Topeka mom remembering gun violence victims with orange rocks around town

Someone You Should Know

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — A Topeka mom is honoring people killed by gunfire.

You may have seen orange rocks while taking a walk at Lake Shawnee. They’re pretty hard to miss, especially with them being bright orange. The rocks aren’t for decoration, they’re to remember the people who lost their lives to guns.

A memory that will spread around Topeka, thanks to Julie Phillips.

“These aren’t just names to me,” Phillips said. “They’re people.”

Phillips is a Topeka woman who has worked in the community meeting so many different people. She’s a part of the group Moms Demand Action, a group fighting for public safety from gun violence. The group wanted to do something for the virtual Wear Orange Day, so they painted rocks.

Phillips wanted to do something different by adding names. She started with the kids she knew who died from a gun.

“I’ve worked with so many at-risk youths that have lost their lives to gun violence and are judged by their choices,” Phillips said. “We don’t take enough time to realize that it was a life cut short and that it was a life full of potential.”

She wanted to add more names, so she put the word out to get the names of the lives that were cut short.

“I reached out on Facebook to friends, and the names started pouring in,” Phillips said. “Once I got to 50, I figured, if it’s already this big, I might as well just let everyone share names.”

The rocks all have a name and an age. The oldest age, almost 70 years old with about three rocks dedicated to unborn babies.

“Of all the statistics I could share, the simplest and most powerful was the age,” Phillips said.

The rocks can be found all over Topeka, but the message is to show we can all do something to stop gun violence.

“Hopefully I won’t have anymore rocks to make some day,” Phillips said.

Since Phillips started about a week ago, she’s painted 100 rocks, with the names reaching more than 260 people. She also wants people to know she doesn’t care what the reputation of the person was, or if they lost their life to suicide. She just wants people to understand this was a real person.

On the bottom of each rock, it gives information on how you can be a part of the project. When you find a rock, don’t keep it. Relocate it for someone else to find.

Phillips started a Facebook page for people to request rocks, see the finish products, and to share pictures when you find one. The page is called “Say Their Names Rock Project.”

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