“I’m really sick and tired of doing prayers,” said the rabbi Sunday afternoon while he stood in the Bettendorf mosque.
Rabbi Jeff Lipschultz, of the Congregation of Beth Israel at the Tri-City Jewish Center, was among the speakers at the hour-long Vigil for Parkland. The Muslim Community of the Quad-Cities held the interfaith vigil, which about 100 people attended, in response to Wednesday shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed.
He said prayers after many shooting incidents for the last 20 years.
“Can’t we do something to make it harder to buy guns?” he asked. “We don’t have to ban them. The ability to stop this involves courage.”
Other speakers included:
Mohammad El-Zein, president of the Muslim Community of the Quad-Cities began the vigil with a prayer.
Lisa Killinger: “My heart is deeply touched at seeing all these people,” said Killinger, past president of the Muslim Community of the Quad-Cities. She explained that the speakers, as well se some of the children present, would light candles to represent the 14 high school students and three adults who died in the Parkland shooting.
“In this we hope to bring a little light to this dark time,” she said. The flowers represented the fragility and beauty of life, while the seeds represented hope. “We know all too well that good always triumphs over evil,” she said.
Imam Saad Baig: “As an imam, as a professional counselor working in the mental health field, and as a parent, this incident is very disturbing,” said Baig, of the Islamic Center of the Quad-Cities. “It broke my heart into tears because of what happened.”
“The best thing we can do at this time is show our support.”
Tara Witherow, of Davenport, a concerned mother. She has three children, two of whom are adopted. One of her children has mental-health issues, she said.
“I don’t want that to be my child on the 10 o’clock news,” she said.
“Is it gun control? It is it mental health? It is partially a mental-health issues, partially a gun issue” and partially a community issue in “how we raise our sons,” Witherow said.
“Pick one, or all, but at least work on one of these angles,” she said. “We need a children’s mental health system that needs to be funded,” she said.
“Yes, let’s arm our teachers, but not with guns,” she said, drawing applause, adding that teachers should be armed with resources to help “kids who are falling through the cracks.”
“It shouldn’t take months to get a mental health appointment and minutes to get a gun,” she said.
Lynn Drazinski, of QC Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, encouraged attendees to educate themselves about gun violence in the United States by visiting https://everytownresearch.org/ or the website for the mothers group at https://momsdemandaction.org/
The Rev. Rich Hendricks, of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad-Cities, said a brief prayer: “Most Holy One, for lives lost and lives yet to be found, God rescue us from our stupor … comfort all those who mourn in earnest …. May we seek change with a vengeance yet never turn from our path of love.”
Ann Berger, Pleasant Valley High School English teacher and parent of a high-school student, drew a standing ovation with her impassioned speech: “To Senators (Chuck) Grassley and (Joni) Ernst, I say to you, while not in nice but precise language, look at the carnage you have caused through the repeal of restrictions on gun ownership. You and your murderous colleagues should be forced to take a field trip to the war-torn hallways and sidewalks of every mass shooting in the United States.
“You have blood on your hands shed from the children and teachers that you have murdered. And you cannot hide them by putting them in your pockets, pockets lined with money from the NRA (National Rifle Association), money you used to abort the lives of our children and teenagers and the adults in our public schools across this country.”
“We are living in a culture soaked with violence,” she said.
The Rev. Kristen Glass-Perez, a chaplain at Augustana College, Rock Island: While she prepared to lead Ash Wednesday services at the college, the images of other students “kneeling and running and hiding were on my mind.”
Afterward, many guests stayed – some to enjoy refreshments, some to talk, and some to cry.