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Lives Lost

May 29, 2014

Last friday, a guy gunned down six UCSB students in Isla Vista. Alienated, disenfranchised, unstable guy with easy access to a gun. Issues of gun control; issues of the lack of services and support for people with mental illness; the randomness, senselessness and sadness of young lives lost in an instant.  All of it: huge and overwhelming.

So.. a vigil was organized and held on campus tonight to honor the fellow UC students who died. I went in part because I liked the idea and the power of thousands of people in Davis gathering in solidarity to show their support for the kids in Santa Barbara–the grace and humanity of it. And I also went in protest and anger and despair over the state of gun policy in our pathetically misled country.

Just what the f*ck are we ever going to be able to do about this? The NRA has played the public and politicians brilliantly. The talking points are pure bullshit and yet our poor, uneducated, paranoid country is stuck in this numbingly stupid theater of the absurd.

It is such a horrible mess of misinformation and fear and stupid.

Okay.. so the vigil wasn’t about any of that. Though Chancellor Katehi, once she’d finished reading some prepared remarks, spoke from her heart and said there are just too, too many guns.  She said they outnumber our population and are easier to get than a bike license, and that’s not right.  Really, she said that. (Which is the absolute truth.)

I also learned that Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was killed, went to law school at UCD. Martinez, through his anguished and impassioned comments in the days following the shootings, has reignited the national debate about gun laws.  A movement is forming called (somewhat awkwardly) “Not. One. More.” I’m really hoping it gets some traction. That’s the gun-related reason I went to tonight’s vigil.

But the gathering was appropriately and movingly about the people who died. They identified the six students and then shared backgrounds and sweet details of each of their life stories. They invited people who might know them to come up on the stage to offer remembrances.  It was really nice. One young woman was there during the shooting and she cried all the way through her recounting of the experience; I think most everybody cried along with her.

Here are some pictures.

This one was taken by Lucas Frerichs and shows the size of the crowd (thousands):

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Here’s looking behind me before things got started:

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Here are the people I sat with… I was looking for and found folks I’d met and/or worked with when I tabled at Farmer’s Market for the Yolo Brady Campaign and Moms Demand Action.  (Naomi, her husband Dan, Lucas, Jennie, Susan and her daughter Meg):

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Here’s Mayor Joe… he had some good comments about the stress students feel and how we need to provide more support, not less.

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After the speeches, the candles were lit and remained throughout the remembrances. It was cool to see how candles were lit on one end and, person-to-person, were then lit throughout the crowd.

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