By Gretchen Berger
On Wednesday evening, in the wake of the national tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Upper West Siders gathered for a candlelight vigil to express their sorrow and support for the victims and survivors.
It was nearly 10 years after a Sandy Hook Elementary School candlelight vigil was held in Riverside Park, where people swore, “never again!”
The vigil was organized by local community and interfaith leaders who tried to comfort, eulogize and inspire to action. It was held on the steps of St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church on West End Avenue and West 86th Street.
A large crowd gathered to hear speakers, prayers and songs from local leaders of churches, synagogues and the Ethical Culture Society, including:
Rabbis Felicia L. Sol, J. Rolando Matalon, and Shuli Passow from Congregation B’nai Jeshurun; Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan; Rev. Michael Piazza, Broadway United Church of Christ; Rev. Lea Matthews, St. Paul & St. Andrew; Dr. Nori Rost, the New York Society for Ethical Culture.
Comments from speakers included: “No one needs an automatic rifle!”; “We don’t need thoughts and prayers!” “Time to rise up and do justice (Biblical reference from Micah)!”; and “Demand that our elected officials protect our children!”
A moment of silence was observed after the names of the victims were read.
New York City Council Member Gale Brewer, the final speaker, noted that there were 212 mass shootings this year — more than there are days on the calendar so far. Songs were performed by Ari Priven of B’nai Jeshurun, and Robin Bahr-deStefano of St. Paul & St. Andrew, including Where Have All the Flowers Gone, and, finally, Amazing Grace.
Candles were lit and flowers laid upon the entry steps.
I appreciate the need to gather with like-minded people to grieve and express anger. So I think it is great that this event happened.
But what is the plan? What are we as Upper West Siders going to do. Having rallies in our Democrat echo chamber does not solve the problem. Our representatives are largely on our side.
I wish we could discuss real solutions that truly will bring about change. Perhaps find some of the more vulnerable pro-gun elected officials and support candidates who truly have a chance of winning (though their views might not be 100% the same as yours).
All over our country people will be marching on June 11: https://marchforourlives.com/march22/?amtOpts=&am=3&recurringAmtOpts=&recurringAm=&ms=fl_email_fr_20220526&is_optimized_ask=true&emci=27e142e4-86dc-ec11-b656-281878b8c32f&emdi=f7dece3c-fedc-ec11-b656-281878b8c32f&ceid=1974958
Impressive participation of places large and small. We should all stand up and be counted! Our overwhelming numbers just might shake up some gun-lovers running for office.
I agree with you. I doubt anyone in this crowd owns a gun or is already against stronger gun control laws. So the speakers were basically preaching to the choir.
I’m personally in favor of stronger gun control laws but I don’t think this rally accomplished anything.
If we want real change, we have to demand more from our own elected officials too. Are they prepared to support ending the Senate filibuster? Adding more justices to the Supreme Court? Executive actions by the President?
Expanding our majority is important. But so is being willing to make real changes. And our representatives will only go that far if we make it clear that they have to.
“Expanding our majority” —. The Dems will be wiped out in the mid-terms, and then, no matter who the candidate is, a Republican President. The stranglehold of the Dems in power will end, and not soon enough.
There is a decent chance the Republicans take the Senate this fall and the White House in 2 years. Be very careful what you wish for.
Whatever the Dems do, the Republicans would throw it back at us a lot harder – they have no moral qualms about anything.
All of this effort should go towards helping Dems win the PA, GA and other close Senate races, as well as key House races. A candidate might not be exactly what you want, but any Dem is better than a Republican. I am a moderate who doesn’t like a lot of the progressive Dems but I will still support them in a general election for national office vs. any Republican.
Republicans aren’t holding back on our account. If they take a majority they’ll do whatever they want anyway. Let’s fix what we can, while we can.
Another domestic terrorist inspired by the creed of the NRA: “We shoot with abandon in the morn’ and pray with hypocrisy in the eve.”
As long as our elected officials view gun control along partisan lines, progress seems elusive. Sad to see that these officials condone mass murder in the name of individual freedom.
Not only a tragedy, but a shocking example of official negligence!
According to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donell:
1. the rear door of the building had been left unlocked;
2. the local “police” were “waiting for backup”, AFRAID to enter the building for almost AN HOUR, ONE HOUR!!.. while the shooter killed children;
3. there was no school safety officer present; and
4. when “the cavalry” (Border Patrol) finally DID arrive they fatally shot the shooter instead of shooting him in the leg so that he could be arrested.
Hopefully there will be lawsuits!
Turning every school in the country into a fortress (unlikely and impossible anyway) will not solve the problem of shootings in grocery stores or churches or movie theaters or shopping malls or subways or…
It is not merely a matter of security. There has to be a change of mindset in this country and I don’t see that happening. Once this country accepted the killing of young children at Sandy Hook and did nothing in response the fight was lost.
We don’t sell alcohol to people under 21but it is fine to sell guns to the 18-year olds.
I don’t see the “right to bear arms” going away anytime soon, so we have to push for much stricter background checks and raising the age to 21. At 18, some adolescents may already have a juvenile record that would be sealed. So it won’t come up on the background check. Red flags such as posting with weapons and threatening violence will not come up on background checks either.
We need to overturn these lax rules very soon. At the very least the purchaser should have a doctor’s note and the note from the local police precinct. That’s what they used to do for aspiring naturalized citizens in the past I. Order for them to get citizenship. So the process already exists, it just needs to be applied to the gun dealers.
As far as assault weapons are concerned, nobody but military and police should have them.
I don’t think law enforcement in this country shoots anyone in the leg for good reasons. If you have a killer in tactical gear with automatic weapons, leg would be the last place anyone is going to aim at.
The police really dropped the ball
There are too many third rails to rid America of this shamefully deserved reputation. It’s depressing.
I read a comment somewhere in the news or social media that how is it OK for someone to have a rifle that, when armed police arrive with similar weapons, they are STILL AFRAID to breach?
Seriously. Think about that. The police, whose job it is to rush in and stop someone, even at risk to their own lives, were clearly too afraid to go after someone with that weapon.
But hey, no problem selling that weapon to anyone with no background check. Because really, who actually needs an AK15 for home protection or even hunting? NO ONE, that’s who.
If no one had a gun (or guns), no one else would need a gun to defend themselves.
The same folks in government who see life as beginning at fertilization, have no concern to protect the safety of those children. They could care less and how anyone can vote for them for any reason given such hypocrisy is beyond belief.
This idea of arming (or further arming) teachers is just ridiculous. As one teacher put it, I was trained to teach, not to be a sniper.
And the idea that having only one closed door and an armed guard would prevent what happened? Well, again, absurd.
Militarizing schools is no way to prevent such attacks. If anything it “invites” deranged individuals who see it as a challenge.
The police/other law enforcement who did not enter? Should all be fired. Every. Single.One.Of. Them.
Risking your life to serve and protect is part of the job. If you can’t handle it, get another job.
👏🏻 Say it louder for the people in the back!!!!! 👏🏻
I couldn’t have said it better.
Outlaw guns. Vote out any politician who wants to defund police or is pro gun.
They are either pro-gun or defund police.
“We don’t need thoughts and prayers…” on the steps of a church. This rally was for people to make themselves feel better.
What’s wrong with trying to feel better and giving comfort to others? First we find solidarity, and then we strategically target the candidates and elections that need our support and resources. Strength in numbers.
Agreed. Navel-gazing at its finest!
Come on guys, have a little respect. Activism and change takes many forms – including posting on online chatboards – but if you don’t agree with the idea of a vigil then DON’T GO TO THE VIGIL. Don’t begrudge others because that’s how they’re choosing to try and better the broken world right now.
To find common purpose in the quiet days of peace is hard…. [When] there is no tyranny or oppression against which to struggle, experience suggests that if men cannot struggle on behalf of a just cause, because that struggle was victorious in an earlier generation, then they will struggle against the just cause. They will struggle for the sake of struggle. They will struggle, in other words, out of a certain kind of boredom. They cannot imagine living in a world without struggle. If the world they live in is a world characterized by peace and prosperity, then they will struggle against that peace and prosperity … and against democracy. F. Fukuyama
Yes, we are all in agreement that something needs to be done and we all know what that is, but not one of you mentioned – how about we clean up our own back yard/front yard and get the guns out of our city. Our officials need to do more than mourn and comfort us – they need to be as accountable for taking action here as the “officials” failed to do in Texas. Clean up NYCHA for starters???
As a Sandy Hook parent said, this is a non partisan issue and can be solved while protecting 2nd amendment rights: Gun violence is a public health epidemic — not a partisan issue, and demands smart, strategic policy solutions. These don’t need to be extreme: we can protect the Second Amendment and stop mass shootings simultaneously by implementing policies like these:
Extreme Risk Protection Orders: Many states offer families the option of temporarily transferring firearms from loved ones who may be in crisis. Policies like this help prevent gun violence and suicide, and because they are about taking action before a gun is misused, they also protect Second Amendment rights. It is critical that states that have these invest in ensuring communities know when and how to use this vital, life-safety tool.
Expanded Background Checks: Closing the Violent Hate Crimes Loophole (among others) in our background checks system would prohibit the sale of firearms to individuals who have been convicted of threatening others with a deadly weapon or assaulting someone based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Safe Storage Policies: Keeping firearms locked separately from ammunition protects young people from both accidental and intentional gun violence. We need to strengthen safe storage requirements and increase access to secure storage options for families.