“Love Is Stronger Than Hate”

first_imgResidents Attend Vigil for Orlando VictimsBy John BurtonRED BANK – Candlelight provided a somber backdrop last Wednesday night as the names of the Orlando victims were read in hushed tones, and clergy and town officials reflected on the tragedy of the recent mass shooting.An estimated 250 people gathered outside the municipal complex, 90 Monmouth St., as a show of solidarity and to honor the memory of the 49 killed and the more than 50 injured in the June 12 shooting in a gay nightclub in Florida.“I thought it was important to be here tonight,” said Red Bank resident Mike Sangiovanni, who shared the grief that many in the gay community expressed. Sangiovanni recalled his first time he attended a gay club and the welcoming sense of the environment. In the shooting’s aftermath, Sangiovanni observed, “The men and women in Pulse (the club) could have been any of us.”As people began to congregate prior to the event, Mayor Pasquale Menna said, “We’re doing the right thing,” by having such a public gathering in the aftermath of such a horrific act. “People don’t necessarily want to talk about difficult things. But we have to come together as a community.”Menna told the crowd that one of his first steps upon becoming mayor was to join then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of mayors from communities around the country supporting what the group calls common sense gun laws.With this latest mass shooting once again triggering a national debate over guns and their accessibility, Rabbi Marc Kline, with Monmouth Reform Temple, Tinton Falls, in a passionate speech took aim at national elected leaders, taking them to task for not addressing the situation and telling the public it needs to do more. “Folks, this is about protecting Americans, protecting humans,” Kline told the gathering.Participants in last week’s Red Bank candlelight vigil offer their support and mourn the death of 49 in the recent nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.He went on to say, “Congress needs to do more than pray…Congress needs to hear our voices and we need to vote for those who listen.” He also admonished those who sought to blame these killings on mental illness. “Mental illness hardly kills anyone in Australia, Europe and Canada,” the implication being those countries with stricter firearm regulations.Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11), a borough resident, pointed out “this could happen anywhere,” in any of the popular nightspots — “places where there is a celebration of life” – that pick up in activity during the summer at the Jersey Shore. But she offered encouragement. “We will not allow the haters among us to push us back” she said. Beck said she continued to hold out “hope for a bright future.”Christian Fuscarino, executive director of Garden State Equality, a statewide advocacy organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual community, said the tragedy in Orlando “is a horrific reminder that our work in not done,” saidBut Brett Sabo, a Red Bank resident and member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, wearing the organization’s orange T-shirt, wondered “How do we make sense of something so nonsensical?”Sabo also offered some hope. “Hate will lose because there are more of us,” offering love.In conclusion, David Pascale, chairman, and member Cruz Roolaart, of the borough Human Relations Advisory Committee, listed the names and a brief remembrance of the shooting victims as the crowd lit candles.Among those in the crowd were three Roman Catholic nuns from the Sisters of Mercy order assigned to St. James Parish in the borough. Sister Regina, sporting a button advocating stronger gun control regulations, said “I think it’s important to show our support at a time like this, not just here but throughout America.”Borough resident Sabrina Wilhelm came because “I feel it’s not just about one community” in Orlando, Florida. “It’s about everybody, it’s about our brothers and sisters,” in the LGBT community, and their loved ones, she said.“Thank you,” Menna offered to the gathering. “For at least in Red Bank, we’re sending a message to the rest of the country, to the rest of the world.”And that message is, “Love is greater than fear, love is greater than hate,” he said.Pilgrim Baptist Church, 172 Shrewsbury Ave., scheduled its own prayer vigil for the following evening, with some local elected officials indicating they would be attending.The Westminster Presbyterian Church, 94 Tindall Road, Middletown, planned an outdoor candlelight vigil on the church’s great lawn at 7 p.m. on June 23.last_img