People gather for a candlelight vigil in memory of the

Candlelight Vigil for Victims of Mass Shootings

By Elsa Mejía

In the wake of the mass shootings that took the lives of 31 people in Gilroy, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, residents in Fresno gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor the lives of the victims. The vigil took place at the corner of Shaw and Blackstone avenues on Aug. 4. More than 30 people attended. Protesters raised signs with messages in English and Spanish calling for peace and an end to gun violence.

In the wake of the mass shootings that took the lives of 31 people in Gilroy, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, residents in Fresno gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor the lives of the victims. The vigil took place at the corner of Shaw and Blackstone avenues on Aug. 4. More than 30 people attended. Protesters raised signs with messages in English and Spanish calling for peace and an end to gun violence.

The vigil was organized by local longtime activist Rafael Avitia. It included speakers who denounced racism and gun violence. Gloria Hernandez was among the speakers. She talked about issues affecting communities of color, holding elected officials accountable and mobilizing for change.

“Go in peace. Be safe. Take action,” Hernandez said. “Do not be a couch potato. Take action. Call your Congressman, call your senator. They document every phone call. They document every letter. Every letter reflects 1,000 votes…use whatever weapon we have, pero ya no más, ya basta (no more, enough.)”

Avitia, who organized the event less than 24 hours after the mass shooting in Dayton, said he was not surprised by the turnout.

“I was not surprised that more people didn’t show because I knew that some people were still dealing with the shock,” he said. “At the same time, I know other people have a fatigue when it comes to mass shootings in America. It’s almost like people have gotten used to it and have accepted it as ‘normal.’”

He agreed with Hernandez’s call to action.

“Going forward, I believe people must stay engaged and young people must register to vote as soon as possible. Voting is a tool or instrument that we have to fight back the mass shootings, by voting out politicians and voting in laws, as well as good candidates, that will stand up to the NRA [National Rifle Association] and other lobbyists.”

At press time, there had been 272 mass shooting incidents reported and verified in the United States in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA; gunviolencearchive.org), an independent data collection and research group formed in 2013 to provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States.

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Elsa Mejía is the editor of theCommunity Alliance newspaper. Contact her at editor@fresnoalliance.com.

  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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