Pacific Grove to honor, remember victims of gun violence

PACIFIC GROVE — Pacific Grove is poised to honor and remember the 19 students and two teachers gunned down in last month’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, with an interfaith ceremony at Lovers Point Park this Saturday.

Organized by Pacific Grove City Councilman Joe Amelio, in partnership with the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce, the memorial will begin at 10 a.m. Apart from local speakers — which will include the chaplain for the Defense Learning Institute, among others — American flags will be placed at Lovers Point Park, 631 Ocean View Blvd., through the ceremony to represent the 21 victims lost in the May 24 Uvalde massacre.

“I just felt that we had to do something. … It’s a process of healing more than anything,” said Amelio. “I think that these 19 students and two teachers need to be recognized. They didn’t ask for this. … Yes, we’re far away from Uvalde, but I just don’t like the destruction of life like this, of any life, but especially students — 19 students.”

Starkly aware that the mass shooting at Robb Elementary — the second-deadliest K-12 school shooting recorded in U.S. history — is hardly an isolated incident, organizers will plant additional flags at Lovers Point in Saturday’s ceremony to honor other lives lost to gun violence across the country, Amelio said.

In 2022 so far, there have been 267 mass shootings throughout the U.S. as of Monday, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research organization. This past weekend alone, there were more than 10 mass shootings, which the Gun Violence Archive defines as an incident where “four or more people are shot or killed, not including the shooter.”

Earlier this month, the Pacific Grove City Council passed a resolution by a 5-2 vote demanding state and federal gun reform. Mayor Bill Peake and Amelio voted against the resolution, both generally in favor but seeking minor changes to the document.

“The crisis of gun violence in our country necessitates a sustained, coordinated, and collaborative effort involving entire communities, elected officials at every level of government, law enforcement, and the entire criminal justice system,” the resolution reads.

Likewise, last week, the city of Monterey authorized Mayor Clyde Roberson to sign an open letter from the National League of Cities, an advocacy group representing nearly 19,500 cities, towns and villages across the country, to Congress on gun violence prevention.

“The City of Monterey advocates on behalf of the community’s interests at the regional, state, and federal level,” an agenda report introducing the letter reads. “Mass shootings and gun violence has ripped cities and communities apart, and Monterey is not immune to these horrific acts. It is in the City’s best interest to consider joining the National League of Cities in signing an open letter to the United States Congress pleading bipartisan leaders to enact stronger federal laws to protect our communities, families, and children.”

Over the weekend, U.S. Senate negotiators announced they had struck a bipartisan deal on gun safety. The tentative agreement includes money to encourage states to implement “red flag” laws to remove guns from potentially dangerous people, money for school safety and mental health resources, and expanded background checks for gun purchases for people between the ages of 18 and 21, as well as penalties for illegal straw purchases by convicted criminals.

The proposal came one day after thousands attended pro-gun control rallies across the country organized by the student-led March for our Lives group, including several hundred who gathered at Monterey’s Window on the Bay park.

“We’re unifying in supporting these people, these students and these teachers and their families,” said Amelio, noting several Pacific Grove business owners who have voiced their support for Saturday’s memorial. “(The violence) is horrible. I can’t stand it. This is just something that needs to be done.”

Contributed by local news sources

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