Candles flickered in the darkness of night as about 500 people gathered Tuesday in search of peaceful solutions in response to last week’s acts of terror.
The peace vigil at Alameda Park was an opportunity for the community to unite and think not just about last week’s events but about the broader aspects of violence and any nonviolent options, said Carah Ong of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a sponsor of the vigil.
“I think everyone believes some sort of response is needed,” said Chris Pizzinat, the foundation’s deputy director.
But he said a military response is not necessarily the answer; another answer is the International Criminal Court.
“I think everyone agrees the perpetrators need to be identified and brought to justice,” he said. “I have no misconceptions that will be easy. And there will be bloodshed.”
David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, said any response by the United States needs to be based on three things: the legality under international law; morality, not taking any more innocent lives; and thinking about how the problem of terrorism can be solved without increasing the cycle of violence.
He hoped the vigil would bring the people together “to recognize we are a community not only here in Santa Barbara, but we are a community with the nation and the world.”
A community, he said, needs to come together in times of grief and celebration.
“And this is a time of grief and we need to support each other,” Mr. Krieger said.
He said the nation needs to be very careful not to take steps to add to the violence.
“I’m worried myself about this mood in Washington and a desire for vengeance,” he said.
Besides hearing from a variety of speakers, those attending the vigil had the opportunity to sign condolence books that Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, will take back with her to Washington, D.C.
The books will be shared with those in the areas where the devastation occurred.
The congresswoman told the crowd that they gathered together to light a candle in the darkness and to give voice to that which is unspeakable.
Gail Shaughnessy was among those who agree a military response might not be the best answer.
“I think it would be a big mistake to rush in in a vengeful state. We need to step back and make sure we don’t jeopardize more innocent lives. Enough innocent lives have been lost. I do believe there are other ways,” she said.
Security and intelligence could be increased, as well as putting pressure on those who can get to the perpetrators, Ms. Shaughnessy said.
“I hope that’s the course we decide to take, ultimately,” she said. “So far I feel we are being prudent. We didn’t just mount a blind attack immediately.”
As they listened to the speakers, members of the crowd sat silently, candles flickering. Some held flags and scattered throughout the crowd were young and old wearing T-shirts with Old Glory and the words, “God Bless America.”
As he ended his remarks, Mr. Krieger said, “We do have the opportunity to change the world. We can create a world that can truly live together in peace. May your candles shine brightly and your love fill the world and make it a better place.”
E-mail Vicki Adame at: firstname.lastname@example.org