A crowd gathered in Todos Santos Plaza Friday evening to take part in a “Respect for Humanity” vigil in response to the recent mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton. Speakers at the rally addressed fears felt by the community, especially children.
Religious leaders from Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths, added their voices to teachers, activists and local politicians including Concord Mayor Carlyn Obringer and Councilmember Edi Birsan, to both comfort and make calls to action to stand up to racist rhetoric that many believe fuels some of the recent attacks.
Paul Ramirez, of United Latino Voices of Contra Costa, which helped organize the rally, spoke about a woman who called him afraid to send her children to school “because they are killing blacks and Mexicans.” He told her “we need to stand to together. We will keep your children as safe as possible but don’t give up your faith…don’t let anyone take away your power because the key to your children’s future is their education.”
At one point the audience was asked to take a few minutes to offer a hug, handshake, or high five to those standing next to them in the crowd to foster community and demonstrate that love conquers hate.
Several of the speakers stressed the importance of voting, calling for elected representatives in government and those running for office to change gun laws and anti-immigrant polices that contribute to the fear and anger that many are feeling.