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Davis, California

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Students, Davis leaders hold candlelight vigil downtown after multiple mass shootings in California

In wake of the Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay shootings, local activists call for federal gun reform 


By CHRIS PONCE — city@theaggie.org


Content Warning: gun violence


On Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. organizers with Yolo County Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action at UC Davis and the Davis Phoenix Coalition held a candlelight vigil in Central Park in response to recent gun violence in California. 

The vigil came in response to the Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay shootings, which happened in the span of a week. While given a short amount of time to organize, the “Community Vigil and Call to Action” had a large turnout. 

Roan Thibault, a first-year political science public service major, is organizing a Students Demand Action chapter at UC Davis. He quickly organized the vigil with Davis District Four Councilmember Gloria Partida and Yolo County Moms Demand Action. Thibault shared his reaction to the shootings.

“I’m really just grieving with the rest of the state,” Thibault said. “It’s a state that I deeply love, a state that we all deeply love. And to see this kind of tragedy, this completely preventable tragedy, I just felt like something needed to be done about it. [We needed] somewhere we can gather and process our emotions and also somewhere we can have a call to action.”
Partida, who is the chair of the Davis Phoenix Coalition, introduced speakers and organizers at the vigil which included county supervisors and student activists. Partida encouraged those in attendance to notice which elected officials showed up to the vigil.

“It’s really important that you note which of your elected officials are here in moments like this,” Partida said. “Because those are the people that you want to vote for, and this is the way that you are going to get some change to happen. [It] is by making sure that people are in power that are reflective of the values that are important to you.” 

Partida then introduced Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) members of the Davis Phoenix Coalition to speak at the vigil, stating that she believed it would be more impactful to hear from them. Anoosh Jorjorian, the director of Yolo Rainbow Families, a group within the Davis Phoenix Coalition, spoke about how her identity impacted her reaction to the shootings. 

“Here we are again, we have had more mass shootings this year than we have had days in the year,” Jorjorian said. “And, my heart hurts so much that the shooting in Monterey Park was committed by a member of our own community. And my heart hurts that the shooting in Half Moon Bay was committed by a member of my community.”

Jorjorian talked about the need for gun reform in the United States, comparing America’s history of gun violence to other nations. 

“Nevertheless, we know that the problem is guns,” Jorjorian said. “Because in every nation on earth, there is mental illness. In every nation on earth, there is anger. But we [the U.S.] have the problem with shootings because we have the problem with guns.”

Following the speakers with the Davis Phoenix Coalition were representatives from Congressman Mike Thompson’s office and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry’s office. Both representatives read prepared statements on behalf of the elected officials. Jim Provenza, Yolo County District 4 Supervisor who was present at the vigil, also spoke.

“It’s clear that to many in this country, gun rights are more important than human rights,” Provenza said. “How else would they look away when a classroom of children is murdered? How else would they look away when a whole community is attacked? When 10, 20, 30 people are killed. It’s important I think that we reverse that balance, that we show a recognition of the importance of human life. The other thing that I think is going on is there’s a growing acceptance that violence is an answer to our problems.”

Provenza talked about many people’s concerns that California, a state with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, is still experiencing these events. He said that “every gun law makes us safer,” and that the ones that have been put in place in the state are the necessary steps to combating gun violence, but that there is still more needed to be done to combat loopholes. 

Rev. Dr. Eunbee Ham, an associate pastor at Davis Community Church, who is a member of the AAPI community, spoke at the vigil about staying hopeful in times of tragedy and not becoming desensitized to mass shootings. 

“It is hard for my heart at least; perhaps, it is hard for you as well to keep up with this series of shootings that threaten to pummel our hearts into numb submission, helplessness and apathy,” Ham said. “So I stand here today to resist that urge, to bypass the pain of these repeated massacres and to remind our hearts not to be desensitized by these tragedies and to remember we are not alone, and we can take action.”


Written by: Chris Ponce city@theaggie.org