Santa Clarita community holds vigil to honor victims of recent mass shootingsMai Nguyen Do August 6, 2019 0 COMMENTS
Dozens of community members gathered in front of Santa Clarita City Hall on Monday evening to hold a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims of the mass shootings in Gilroy, California, Chicago, Illinois, El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
Four people were killed during a mass shooting on Jul. 28 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. At least 52 people were shot in Chicago during shootings that started the evening of Friday, Aug. 2, leaving seven people dead. On Saturday, 22 people were killed in El Paso in another mass shooting. Just before the shooting on Saturday, the suspect posted a four-page document to the online messaging board 8chan, in which he explained he was “defending [his] country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion,” according to police. Thirteen hours later on Aug. 4, nine people were killed in a shooting in Dayton, Ohio.
The Aug. 5 vigil in front of city hall was organized by Saugus Union School District Board Member David Barlavi and the Democratic Alliance for Action of Santa Clarita.
“We have Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton and Chicago, back to back, and that’s just a sign of the political climate,” Barlavi said. “We need to stand up against it and say that the majority of our country is still good people.”
Before the vigil started at about 8 p.m., those who arrived early stood by the sidewalk with signs sporting slogans such as “love not hate” while some drivers passing by honked in support.
Although the organization has frequently organized similar events in the past, Democratic Alliance for Action President Chad Kampbell believes that the frequency of mass shootings during the weekend has spurred an increasingly urgent debate about gun violence and that continuing community response remains important.
“I think the word ‘atrocity’ is too light a word, in this case,” Kampbell said. “When we come out here, we’re standing in solidarity with the victims and their families, and we’re making a statement as well: that this is an outlier, that this is not normal.”
Several members of the local chapter of Moms Demand Action also attended the vigil. Moms Demand Action is a national organization whose members advocate for gun safety legislation and responsible gun ownership.
“We as Americans do not have to live like this,” Moms Demand Action volunteer and local group lead Kat Walker said. “Gun violence is an American issue and a nonpartisan issue and we should all be concerned.”
In addition to members of the Democratic Alliance for Action and Moms Demand Action, many local residents unaffiliated with either organization also attended the vigil. Valencia resident Mallory Palmer was among the roughly 50 community members who spent their evening in front of city hall.
“We live in a time when you live anywhere, and it’s dangerous,” Palmer said. “That’s why I’m here. I don’t think that any of this should be happening. Kids shouldn’t be afraid to go anywhere.”
Mai Nguyen Do is a Vietnamese American poet and researcher. She is a lifelong Santa Clarita resident and a College of the Canyons graduate. She is also the author of Ghosts Still Walking (2016) and Battlefield Blooming (2019). Find her on Twitter @DoNguyenMai.