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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Vigil for Congresswoman Giffords in Tucson

An 18-year-old woman whose first vote was for Giffords organized a get-well vigil tonight in front of Gifford's Tucson office at 6pm. I didn't get there until 6:20pm but was awestruck by how many people showed up holding candles. The candle-holding audience stood out on the dark streets, so my concern about finding the address on time was luckily no worry.

As soon as I walked up John Lennon's song "Imagine" played, then a few other old songs before local musicians took over the microphone. A Tohono O'odham Indian also provided a chant.

I looked around and saw many other teary-eyed people. Even my own tears were at times hard to hold back. I saw people sniffling, wiping their eyes, or hugging their friends in despair.

There were young and old present, white and black, Hispanic and Jew, babies and puppies. Despite the tragic reason for the gathering, it was a non-partisan, non-racial gathering of eclectic people. At times it got too peace-loving as I'm not sure an all love-only policy against violence would be effective, especially in a cowboy state like Arizona.

"Honk if you support Giffords!" said one hand-written sign. A few passing cars did honk. I did as well when I left at 8:20pm, and there were still quite a few people at the street corner.

I drove into Downtown after leaving the vigil. The place was quiet for a Sunday night. A few cafes were open and several people walked the streets, I just walked around taking night shots. Presidio and transit police were out in force. I didn't see any homeless anywhere, although I'm sure under normal circumstances they are visible around the downtown area, especially near the St. Augustine Cathedral.

Driving to Tucson for the vigil helped me emotionally. It was much-needed therapy for me as I ponder the reasons why anyone would resort to such violence just because they do not agree with someone's politics. I have feared for Obama's life since he was elected president, and from comments I overhear at Applebee's (and many of the people I hang out with are retired military) or read on the internet, that fear seems to be substantiated. Violence and hate is obviously not a partisan issue, that comes from all sides, but it does seem to be stronger coming from the right against the current administration or anyone labeled a Democrat.

Arizona has become the nation's hotbed for dissent. It's almost frightening the kinds of people who live here. The state's own liberal gun laws haven't helped much, either. I'm all for the second amendment but there needs to be better enforcement of the laws already out on the books. Funding for mental health issues continue to be cut because of state and local deficits.

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