Mitchell residents express concern about violencePeople gathered Monday night across from the Corn Palace aim to join with others in the country in a chorus of voices calling for a very public dialogue on gun violence.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
It was a short, silent protest. But the people gathered Monday night across from the Corn Palace aim to join with others in the country in a chorus of voices calling for a very public dialogue on gun violence. Anew United Church of Christ Pastor Kristi McLaughlin organized the 15-minute outdoor vigil at the Mitchell community Christmas tree. She was joined by 15 adults, and two young children who are near in age to the 20 schoolchildren murdered in a rampage through a Connecticut elementary school Friday morning.
“We had to do something,” McLaughlin said before the vigil started on a bitterly cold night. “We had to do something. Our children are dying.”
The pastor brought 13 candles with her, and some of the people who gathered on the sidewalk by the large, colorful, holiday tree also carried candles. They lit them, and had to re-light them as the wind snuffed out the flames on a chilly evening.
Nothing was said during the vigil. The people held candles as the children played by the tree. Several cars slowed to allow drivers and passengers to take a look at what was happening, but no one rolled down a window on the frigid night to offer words of support or scorn.
At the end of the vigil, McLaughlin said the tragedy in Connecticut, which left 28 people dead, is just the latest in a long, deadly string of mass shootings.
“It seems like we’re getting used to it,” she said. “This time might be different, because it was children.”
Curtis Carroll and Lisa Lynott-Carroll, of Wagner, timed some errands in Mitchell so they could attend the vigil. They said they came to support the effort and show their concern.
Carroll said while some believe the Constitution gives people unlimited rights to guns, he’s not so sure.
For one reason, the Second Amendment refers to a “well-regulated militia,” he said.
“Well, I don’t think so,” Carroll said. “What’s happening now is the opposite of well-regulated.”
“I came here because of the children,” said Steffi Anderson, of Mitchell. “To support the children. I think it’s mostly a mental health issue, not a gun problem. It’s a mental health problem.”
Anderson said potentially dangerous people need to be identified and offered care.
McLaughlin said she intended the vigil to help spark a dialogue on ways to prevent gun violence. The hope is “to present a presence, a non-violent presence that we want something to be done about gun violence,” she said in a Facebook post announcing the vigil.
She also stressed that she didn’t intend the gathering to be divisively anti-gun, but rather inclusively against violence committed with guns.
To join in that discussion, or to speak to her, call 999-9361.