Several hundred people attended a vigil Tuesday evening in Center City for the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas that claimed 59 lives.
Speakers addressed the crowd at Thomas Paine Plaza from behind metal barricades erected as a security precaution following the attack Sunday night that left more than 500 injured.
One of the speakers to address the crowd was Tiara Parker, a Philadelphia woman who was shot in the Orlando nightclub shooting in June 2016 that left 49 people dead, including her cousin, Akyra Murray.
Speaking to the victims in Las Vegas, Parker said: “From one survivor to another, no matter what your situation is, it’s going to be OK. You’re going to be OK.”
The vigil, organized by CeaseFirePa, a gun-control advocacy group, featured appearances by Mayor Kenney, Gov. Wolf, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and City Council President Darrell Clarke. They urged action on the state and federal level to rein in gun violence.
Kenney called the recurrence of mass shootings a “public health epidemic.”
“What I find the saddest part of the aftermath of these events is that we hear things like, ‘This is the new normal.’ Nothing is normal about what happened,” Kenney said. “But it doesn’t have to be this way. We are at a crossroads right now and we need to ask ourselves whether or not this is how we want to live.”
“It’s madness. I don’t know what else to call it,” Clarke said.
“We are setting records every year for the deadliest mass shootings, and that is shameful,” said.Shira Goodman, CeaseFirePA’s executive director.
Beth McNamara, 40, a psychotherapist from Flourtown, said she attended the gathering because “it’s another reminder that we need to stay vigilant.”
McNamara, a member of the Montgomery County chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said it was important for people like her “to keep showing up.”
“There needs to be regulation and gun laws that make sense, at least to me,” she said. “What we need to do is keep people safe.”
Shawn Kraemer, 47, a CeaseFirePA board member and resident of Ardmore, echoed McNamara’s sentiment.
“I think it’s important to inconvenience ourselves, to show up with our bodies, to take time out of our schedule, to demonstrate how deeply wrong this is,” she said.
Elena Benamy, 60, of East Oak Lane, said she attended the vigil because she wanted to “hear some words to motivate me to get involved.”
She added, “It is ludicrous that we can’t pass laws restricting the purchase of weapons of mass destruction.”