City of
Madison

District 8

Alder Juliana R. Bennett

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Alder Juliana R. Bennett

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Bennett’s Blog

Statement Regarding Shooting Near Camp Randall

August 31, 2021 5:25 PM

Jovan FreelyHi friends and comrades,

Today I am *finally* releasing my statement regarding the recent gun violence near Camp Randall. This one came as a deep blow to young people like myself, who have been protesting for gun reform since childhood. I pray we find Justice for Jovan and for healing for all those involved. 

 


Statement Regarding Shooting Near Camp Randall

When I saw Jovan Freeny's picture in the paper, I thought what sweet, handsome, happy guy. Jovan was a teen murdered by a shooting at a house party near Camp Randall. Jovan's legacy is about how he was a fun-loving athlete, a high school student, and a father-to-be. My heart goes out to Jovan's mother, his family and friends, his unborn daughter. I'm so sorry for your loss and if you believe in heaven, I know they gained another angel. Still, this loss is unnecessary. It's traumatic for family, friends, and all 100+ people attending the party. 

As a young person in WI, I've grappled with traumatic incidents involving gun violence. I still clearly remember a house party in Madison where a kid was shot in the chest. One minute dozens of people packed next to each other in the steamy basement, jamming to 'Faneto' by Chief Keef. The next minute the music suddenly cut and a girl was shrieking at the top of the staircase "Get Out! Get Out!" My friends and I held each other's hands to not lose each other in the pandemonium, as everyone rushed up the staircase and out the door. When we exited, I remember in slow motion looking down at a kid our age gasping for breath, while dark blood soaked his shirt. His friends clutched him, telling him to hold on, stay with them. Everyone at the scene was washed with a feeling of helplessness. This violence, this trauma, this death is unnecessary. 

This is one of many traumatizing experiences with gun violence I've had that I know many others in our generation can relate to. We've become accustomed to metal detectors in our schools, random backpack checks, and gun-related lockdown procedures. We're shocked and scared, but not surprised when we see people our age illuminating our tv screens after yet another shooting. Gun violence shouldn't be normal. We should be able to attend school, to party at a friend's house, to be regular young people without fear of guns.

I think older generations and policymakers lose sight of the bigger picture of the trauma gun violence inflicts on young people, especially young Black and Brown people. While N*****head Rock made national news on CNN, ABC news, Associated Press, etc., they don't write stories about a Black teen that was murdered near campus. The story we should be writing is how gun violence is the leading cause of death among young Black men in the U.S. We should be asking why it is easier to buy a gun to commit acts of violence than it is to receive a driver's license to expand opportunities. We should be discussing how young people regularly experience the trauma of gun violence and we're not prioritizing the root cause of the problem.

We cannot simply police our way out of gun violence; we must invest in our youth and institute gun control. Youth intervention services are a proven method to reduce gun violence. We must target our youth, specifically those that have experienced trauma, and provide therapy, education, and other youth activities. Our WI Legislature also needs to step up to provide some form of gun regulation to take violent weapons out of dangerous hands. Instead of reacting to violence, these solutions take a proactive approach. 

We need to take action Madison. All too often older generations get caught up in the immediate fear of a shooting that they lose sight of the long term trauma our youth is suffering from. Losing Jovan was not an isolated incident. It was not an attack on all of us. It was an attack on the youngest of us. 


 

Jovan's family is still seeking justice. Read more and visit the Go Fund Me page here: "'They took our backbone': 17-year-old shooting victim a father-to-be, fun-loving athlete"

 

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Juliana Bennett




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