Elected officials from across Manhattan came together last weekend to pay their respects to the individuals who lost their lives in a shooting at Christchurch, New Zealand.
Last Friday, a lone gun-wielding terrorist attacked the Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, leaving 50 dead and another 50 injured. The attacker was later revealed to be a white nationalist associated with the alt-right, whose actions were motivated by severe xenophobia and Islamophobia.
A vigil for the victims, organized by Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-Washington Heights, Sugar Hill), was held yesterday at Bennett Park. Among those in attendance were Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D) and City Councilmen Mark Levine (D-Manhattan Valley, Manhattanville) and Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights, Inwood).
“We are affected by this tragedy as if it were our own, for that was a diverse community and we are a diverse community,” said Levine. “¡Ya basta! We must continue to push beyond our comfort zone to embrace those different from us, to love and understand.”
Espaillat concurred, pointing out that Washington Heights in particular is a neighborhood that embodies the spirit of tolerance.
“As many of you know, this neighborhood welcomed many, many Jewish families during and after the war,” said Espaillat. “It’s very important for us that we continue in the tradition this neighborhood has, which is one of tolerance – and one that acknowledges our diversity, but also objects to hatred, to terrorism, to violence.”
Rodriguez commented that while the Prime Minister of New Zealand called such an attack “unprecedented”, such attacks have become commonplace in the United States – and that needs to change.
“Every single one of these tragedies is one too many,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “And even though we might feel tired and angry, we mustn’t give up and we mustn’t give in, because when we do, they win. As an immigrant and the representative of a very diverse district, I understand the importance of standing together, supporting one another during these difficult times. We must continue to stand united against any acts of hatred because when they hurt any of us they hurt all of us. We must remain united in acceptance of our differences, rejoicing in that very fact, making our bonds stronger, and holding each other up.”