Mayor Krewson, Public Safety Director Edwards—INVEST in our children & the transformation of systems that impact them

Gloria Nolan, Advocacy and Operations Coordinator, testified on the steps of City Hall as part of the For Our Future rally on August 29th. The rally responded to recent acts of violence against children in St. Louis City and the Mayor’s proposal, which bolsters the institutions that criminalize our babies. Many youth and advocates called for public investment to address the root causes of violence. Read a transcript of Gloria’s powerful words below.


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I am Gloria Nolan. I am a member of the North City community—born and raised. I was a child of a person that was incarcerated. My mother served 10 years, which meant so did I. So did my brother. So did other members of our family. But we persevered. We overcame.

Today I get to serve with an organization called WEPOWER. I am a member of the inaugural Power-Building Academy, and we fight for change. I get a chance to advocate in our communities, and it’s an honor.

I am a wife and a mother of two beautiful babies. It broke me down when I heard—my daughter is seven. My son is five. This community that we’re offering to our babies, it’s not right. It’s not right.

This gun violence is a result of power being used OVER us—not WITH us.

Sadly, we’ve been too silent for years. Our silence when school systems fail our babies. Our silence when the justice system over incarcerates our babies and their parents. Our silence when we know too many of our babies are born into poverty with no way to escape it. The gun violence that brings us here today is the result of our silence when our babies water is polluted with lead.

It is the result of our silence, day after day, year after year, when we know these systems are NOT designed to value them, nurture them, and tap into their inherent brilliance. 

Our babies are brilliant.

The death of our babies is the result of our collective failure to love our children through our actions. 

I stand here today with a heavy heart, because Dylan and Evan, because every young person who has been killed deserves better than this. We are telling our children that they don’t matter. 

Dawn Usanga, parent of Xavier—I read this quote of hers.

In a way, I’m kind of happy he died at 7. These streets didn’t have a chance to ruin him. He could have just as easily been swept up in this war, and the boy who shot him could have been my boy someday.
— Dawn Usanga

Let that rest with you for a moment. People feel that there is no way out.

I, WEPOWER, and other organizations here today stand united to transform our love into radical action. We need radical action so that Dawn and other parents can experience a day where the streets children call home are are paved of peace, justice, equity, and dignity—not war.

Mayor Krewson, Public Safety Director Edwards, we need you to INVEST in our children and the transformation of systems that impact them.

We don’t need to fund the preservation of people and institutions that criminalize our babies. We have seen what police do to our babies—Michael Brown Jr., Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and too many others to name. 

Let’s create a future where our children live their best possible lives. Let’s start by investing in REAL solutions and transforming our love into COLLECTIVE action. 

Gloria and her family. Photos by Izaiah Johnson.

Gloria and her family. Photos by Izaiah Johnson.

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Caitlin Leegloria