As the good people at Magic City Post have shared, Mayor Bell has added a solemn conclusion to his Happy Holidays at Railroad Park event today: a candlelight vigil at 5 p.m. to honor the victims of the terrible thing that happened in Sandy Hook yesterday morning, and to reflect upon the violence that not only ravaged their community, but also our own.
Birmingham has long been associated with violence, of course; it’s continually been ranked in the top twenty for murder, rape, general violent crime, and property crime. In total, 72 people have been murdered in the city this year. 56 are dead at the hands of firearms, most notoriously the five men murdered at a card game in Ensley in January. The 18 who have been killed in the past two months include a gunman shot down by the police at St. Vincent’s this very morning.
When you work with people who love this city, when you get used to thinking of it as the Comeback Town, when you want it to succeed so badly, then you can fall into an echo chamber of positivity and forget just how much work is yet to be done. Birmingham is indeed getting better, but it’s easy to lose your sense of proportion when you live in a privileged bubble.
As a country and as a city, we’ve had a rough couple of days, even if it’s nothing compared to what the people directly involved have been through. A candlelight vigil isn’t a perfect answer–what is?–but it’s a show of solidarity and togetherness that Birmingham really needs right now. A little constellation of hope, perhaps, glimmering through the gloaming days of resolute darkness.
The vigil will take place at 5 p.m. this evening, after a day of festivities at Railroad Park. While it’s preferred that you bring your own candle, some will be provided. There will also be a peace demonstration at the Five Points South fountain from 5-6.
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