February 11, 2013
Susan Davis Invites Parents of San Diego Gun Violence to
Attend State of the Union
WASHINGTON – In 1994, Willie James Jones was shot and killed in southeast San Diego soon after he had graduated high school as valedictorian. As the cry for a plan to reduce gun violence has swept the nation, the parents of Willie Jones will attend Tuesday’s State of the Union speech at the invitation of Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53). They will provide a face and a voice to the victims in front of the Congress, the President, his Cabinet and the Supreme Court.
It is a role Willie’s parents, Rosetta and Willie Earl, have played since their son’s death. They have kept their son’s legacy alive through a scholarship in his name and speaking to young people throughout the state on the dangers of gangs and gun violence.
From 1991-1994, Willie was an Aaron Price Fellow as part of a mentoring program designed to teach high school students how cities and communities work and flourish. At the time, Davis was the program’s executive director working with the young people to instill in them a sense of community involvement and participation.
The Aaron Price program was founded to honor the memory of 15-year-old Aaron Price by his grandfather Sol Price. The special relationship that Willie had with Sol Price was recounted in the recently published book by Robert Price, Sol Price’s son.
Willie was leaving a graduation party on Ozark Street when a car drove by and the occupants opened fire. He was the only one hit. Willie died instantly. He was just days from flying to New York to attend Cornell University on a full scholarship.
“Willie was an impressive young man. His ability to accept and relate to people from all walks of life was just one of the many special qualities he had,” said Davis. “Anyone who met him remembered him. He had a future of unending opportunities. Having Rosetta and Willie in the House chamber will give a voice to how senseless and destructive it is that Willie and so many other young people never had a chance to fulfill their dreams and contribute to society.”
“Willie James Jones was an academically accomplished young man with a bright future ahead of him before a drive-by shooting robbed him of his life,” stated Representative Juan Vargas (CA-51), who is giving his one gallery ticket to Willie’s parents. “It was important to our communities to have the Jones family present at the State of the Union, representing the families in our districts that have had to live through the loss of a child to gun violence. I believe that now is a time to set politics aside and work together to support President Obama’s efforts to pass much-needed legislation to prevent tragedies, like this one, in our neighborhoods and schools.”
Hundreds of people - students, teachers and parents - gathered outside the hospital that night. The City of San Diego mourned the tragic and senseless loss of a bright young star. More than 1,500 attended Willie’s funeral. Two months after his death, the City Council renamed Ozark Street Willie James Jones Avenue.
As his parents worked with young people to avoid gangs, Davis was elected to the California State Assembly and then to Congress. Having gotten to know him and mentor him, Willie and his death had a profound effect on Davis and is a central factor in Davis’s actions at the state and federal level to implement sensible policies to reduce gun violence.
Davis and her colleagues have been so moved by the deaths of scores of young people that they are bringing relatives of the victims to the State of the Union to keep a focal point on the need to act on strengthening laws to prevent gun violence in our communities.
“Willie’s parents are still a strong voice for San Diego families. The Joneses want their voices heard as violence continues 20 years later. It is as critical now as it was when he was killed to address this continuing assault in our country,” Davis said.
Each member of Congress gets one ticket for a guest to sit in the gallery of the House chamber for the State of the Union. Davis will be giving up hers for Willie’s parents. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) has also agreed to provide his ticket.
In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, President Obama has proposed a comprehensive approach to reducing gun violence, including expanded background checks to keep guns out of the hands of those who would use them to commit crimes or acts of violence. His plan also calls for a ban on assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, an emphasis on school safety and greater access to mental health care.