Celebrations of life, calls for action at vigil for Orlando

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By STEVEN VIERA
Staff Writer

RED BANK — Flanked by public officials from across the state and surrounded by a crowd of nearly 200 people, Mayor Pasquale Menna called on communities everywhere to take notice of the gathering.

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“Thank you for joining us in Red Bank to say and to send a message to the world, to the rest of the state and to every other state that has divisions in terms of diatribe today, that love is greater than fear, that love is more powerful than hate,” he said.

Menna organized a vigil for the night of June 15 outside the municipal building to remember the victims of the recent mass shooting in Orlando. As he spoke, the rainbow flag flew at half-mast and the marquee of the Count Basie Theatre displayed the phrase “Only Love” above a rainbow background.

Joining Menna at the podium were a number of officials, public figures and members of the clergy.

“Right now, I think it’s really important for our communities to come together to mourn the lives of the people who we lost,” said Executive Director of Garden State Equality Christian Fuscarino. In his speech, he shared stories of the men and women who lost their lives as a way of highlighting their humanity and strength.

“The response right now is one of support for the families and extending love, condolences and whatever assistance we can provide. The community has clearly come together around the tragedy that occurred in Orlando, and it’s such a shock to have lost so many young lives,” said state Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth).

Head of the New Jersey Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Brett Sabo advocated stricter gun control measures, such as closing the “terror gap” that allows terrorism suspects to legally purchase handguns.

Other speakers, like Red Bank’s Human Rights Advisory Committee (HRAC) Chairman David Pascale, criticized hostile anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rhetoric and called for tolerance. Pascale and fellow HRAC member Cruz Roolaart read the names of each victim killed in Orlando along with a short description of their lives.

“Terrorism and this senseless act of violence is an attack against all of us, not against one community isolated against all the others,” Menna said. “The targeting of a minority community is a targeting against every community. We in Red Bank, I’m proud to say, have always stood together, united, without divisions in terms of class, without divisions in terms of party, race, or ethnicity, in doing the right thing.”

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