In response to a series of mass shootings that impacted communities across the country, Marshall Against Violence is asking the public to join the organization in prayer today as the group lifts up the cities of El Paso; Dayton, Ohio; and Gilroy, California in their time of mourning.
“Unfortunately, due to the recent mass shootings, this Wednesday, Aug. 7, MAV, Marshall Against Violence, will host a prayer vigil at the Community Room located at the Marshall Fire Department at 601 S. Grove Street,” said MAV president Demetria McFarland.
The vigil will begin at 5:30 p.m.
“MAV is inviting anyone who would like to come and show solidarity with those left to deal with the tragedies in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio and Gilroy, California, to please pray with us, for them,” she said.
The weekend mass shootings left at least 31 people dead in Texas and Ohio. According to CNN.com, 22 of the victims were killed in El Paso after a mass shooting Saturday. Another nine were killed in a shooting in the Oregon District of Dayton, Ohio. The suspect in that shooting is dead.
In the El Paso shooting, news outlets reported that police found an anti-immigrant document espousing white nationalist and racist views, which they believe was written by the suspect. He may face hate crime charges in addition to capital murder charges.
In the Gilroy, California shooting that occurred last week, CNN.com reported that the 19-year-old gunman who used an assault-style rifle to shoot revelers at the Gilroy Garlic Festival had a “target list” consisting of religious institutions and political groups of both parties, as well as federal buildings and courthouses. Three people, including a 6 and 13-year-old, were killed in the shooting, and more than a dozen were wounded.
McFarland said cards of condolences will be available to sign for each grieving city at Wednesday’s prayer vigil.
“The cards will be sent to the mayors, governors, hospitals and law enforcement agencies who had to deal with the outcome of these senseless acts of violence,” said McFarland.
A petition will also be sent to members of Congress, the governmental body that makes the decisions that impact the lives of every citizen, McFarland said.
“We, as citizens of the United States need to seriously ask ourselves, how much more will we allow to happen before we cry out to ‘the powers that be’ and demand change?” she said. “We simply cannot continue to allow the rhetoric of hate, bigotry and racism come from a person and position that was once looked upon and honored here in this country.
“There has to be change.”
She said that change has to start with the head of the nation on down.
“We need the president to act accordingly and not allow his Twitter fingers to invoke hate towards people he obviously has no knowledge of,” she said. “We need ‘the powers that be’ to start now regarding gun reform.
“How are the weapons ending up in the hands of those who tends to show no remorse when they have taken the lives of innocent people?” she asked.
Although El Paso is nearly 800 miles away from East Texas, McFarland said MAV wants to stand with the city and pray for their strength.
“They are ‘El Paso Strong,’” she said. “Again, the opinions of the president are being embraced by those who agree with his hate, racism and bigotry. His hate filled rants and chants of ‘build that wall’, ‘lock her up’, send them back’ chants he approves of, have given the ‘go ahead’ for those who undoubtedly already had it in their hearts to do what he suggests.”
McFarland said it now seems as if people can’t go to the grocery store, travel out of town, enjoy themselves at festivals or even worship at church without being concerned whether or not their lives are in danger.
The time to do something about it is now, she said, as she reflected on the lives tragically taken within a 13-hour time span Saturday in Texas and Ohio. She said MAV is taking action through its prayers, support and determination to see change.
“I can assure those who have stood with MAV as we stood with those who faced these senseless tragedies, they hear us,” she said.
She said MAV’s prayers have never fallen on deaf ears.
“MAV has received responses from the mayor of Las Vegas after the mass shooting which took place there; we received a response from hospital personnel who saw unfathomable injuries after the Pulse nightclub mass shooting and we received a response from Sheriff Scott Israel regarding the Parkland high school shooting,” said McFarland. “Our voices are being heard by those who need the encouragement we send them during times like this.
“We must be mindful of not only the here and now but the next generation as well — our future” she added. “Again the prayer vigil is open up for any and everyone who would like to show their support, even if they would just like to come by and sign the cards and keep going, we would embrace that as well.