Geneva declares June as Pride Month, marks gun violence awareness day and designates boating awareness week

GENEVA – Geneva has declared June as Pride Month, along with marking June 2 as Gun Violence Awareness Day in the city and marking National Safe Boating Week

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns announced the proclamations and they were approved at the May 15 City Council meeting.

Caleb Anderson spoke before the City Council on behalf of Belong: Fox Valley about the recognition Geneva provides to the LGBTQ+ community. Anderson thanked Burns for being “supportive of all the work that we’ve done to try to bring the community together.”

Anderson said such actions are important for supporting youth in the community.

“The simple act of raising the flag, saying you exist, this month is important – can save lives,” Anderson said.

Meanwhile, Lauren Kunstler, a member of Kane and Kendall Moms Demand Action, and a newly elected Geneva Public Library trustee, said people wear orange during the first weekend of June “to unite in the work of ending gun violence.” She cited statistics that say 120 people in the country are killed by guns each day and that in the U.S. they account for leading cause of death among children and teens.

“We honor survivors with action, and calling attention to this public health crisis is one of the ways to show support,” Kunstler said.

Geneva resident Rachael Albers, who said she is a member of Moms Demand Action and Here 4 The Kids, accused the gun industry of “glamorizing, romanticizing guns with a specific focus on youth.”

Albers recommended a book called “The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture” by Pamela Haag, to help change the national conversation on guns.

“We can’t do nothing,” Albers said. “It’s time to (take) our thoughts and prayers and turn them into action.”

The City Council also approved a proclamation promoting boating safety.

Louis De Martelly, a past flotilla commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, stationed in Bolingbrook, spoke about the importance of boating safety. He said more than 100 million people enjoy it for recreation.

“People are taking to the water and enjoying time together, boating sailing, paddling and fishing,” De Martelly said. “Safe boating begins with preparation. The Coast Guard estimates that human error accounts for most fatalities through basic boating safety procedures.”

That includes having communication equipment, wearing life jackets and staying sober while navigating, De Martelly said.

“We teach about a dozen safe boating courses and free safe boating checks,” De Martelly said.

The previous week, De Martelly said, volunteers did 88 safe boating checks at Shabbona Lake.

An average of 650 people die every year in boating-related accidents in the U.S. with 75% of these fatalities from drowning, he said.

“The vast majority is caused by human error and poor judgment – not by boat equipment or environmental factors,” De Martelly said “The significant number of boaters who lost their lives by drowning each year would be alive today if they had worn their life jackets.”