NEW ORLEANS – Outside City Hall Wednesday night, a few dozen people lit candles and joined in song.
“We will live in peace someday,” their voices rang out.
And that’s the goal of each person who gathered who attended the candlelight vigil honoring the victims of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Each candle they lit, they say, represents the possibility of a safer tomorrow.
“I thought it was really important to stand together with those candles and bring warmth to a very cold night and some hope to the future,” said Rachel Sandler, a Tulane University medical resident.
Thursday’s vigil also served as an outlet to talk about violence in our own community.
Doctors for Gun Control, a local group formed after the Sandy Hook shootings, spearheaded the event.
“Our role as physicians, clearly our job is to treat. And we treat all sorts of varied pathologies, but one of the biggest epidemics hitting our own city is chronic violence,” said Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, pediatrics and internal medicine resident at Tulane University and founder of Doctors for Gun Control.
Gandhi believes doctors should leave the boundaries of their clinics and not just treat, but heal.
“We see patients at their most vulnerable. We see them at a time when there's a huge chance for intervention,” said Gandhi. “We know their family. They come in with their auntie, they come in with their ma, and to not capitalize on that connection I think is a disservice to the community.”
There was a call during the event for more mental health resources in New Orleans and stricter gun laws aimed at keeping assault rifles off the streets.
Organizers read the names of each shooting victim in New Orleans in the month of December. They hope to continue the dialogue about preventing violence in the community.
“It's epidemic here and we all know it, and if we stop talking, if we stop doing our things if we lapse into hopelessness, which is a spiritual disease as much as it is a cultural disease, then we've lost the battle, and this is a winnable battle,” said Father Bill Terry, St. Anna’s Episcopal Church.