UC Berkeley students hold candlelight vigil for victims of Las Vegas shooting

Priya Sundaresan/Staff

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A crowd of people gathered Thursday evening in front of the Campanile, standing in solidarity with those affected by the Las Vegas shooting Oct. 1, in which 59 people were killed.

ASUC Senators Hani Hussein and Jenica Bautista organized the candlelight vigil to “create a space for people to mourn and remember — however they felt comfortable,” according to Hussein.

Stephen Paddock, 64, killed 59 including himself and injured more than 500 people from the window of his room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel last Sunday.

Hussein and Bautista distributed candlesticks to the attendees early in the evening before introducing Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell to speak before the crowd.

Greenwell commended the resilience and bravery of those affected by the events in Las Vegas, as well as the responses garnered in Berkeley.

“Any time there’s such a loss of life, it has such an impact not just on the individuals in that space, but throughout the world,” Greenwell said. “It’s important that we come together as a community, that we continue to be resilient and be there for each other.”

ASUC Student Advocate Jillian Free also addressed the crowd, sharing her experiences of grieving and healing in the wake of such a tragedy.

“It can be hard when you’re dealing with something so core-shaking, and you still have to also navigate the normalcy of being a student,” Free said. “For me, it was a really difficult struggle.”

The Senators then invited onlookers to participate in a moment of silence, during which they were invited to write a message of hope, mourning or personal experience on a large paper.

Several attendees began singing the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” as the moment of silence drew to a close. Attendees then formed a prayer circle to exchange reflections until the end of the vigil.

Hussein stressed the importance of realizing the weight of such events and not becoming complacent.

“Just because you don’t personally know someone affected does not mean that people weren’t affected on this campus,” Hussein said.

Arisa Nakamura and Christina Toma, both campus seniors, came to the vigil to support the rest of the Christian community who attended and to commemorate the lives lost in the tragedy.

“I think it’s really important in these moments that we’re united together as one body … and also with our brothers and sisters who are hurting everywhere,” Toma said.

Nakamura and Toma both described their initial reactions to the shooting as shock, sadness and hopelessness and noted the unexpectedness of the incident.

“We can’t afford to be blind to these things that are happening,” Toma said.

Contact Naira Khalid at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @nairakhalid.