March 18, 2019

Mayor’s prepared remarks at the New Zealand mosques vigil

Good evening. Thank you for coming. This is what Tucsonans do. We care for, and about, each other. But our care and concern don’t stop at city limits. Today, they extend across an ocean, and two hemispheres.

We have seen too many of these atrocities committed by white supremacist gunmen. In 2012, the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. In 2014, the Jewish Community Center in Kansas. In 2015, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. In 2017, the Grand Mosque of Quebec City in Quebec. In 2018, the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pennsylvania. And now, in 2019, two mosques in New Zealand.

50 are dead in this latest attack on peace, on religion, on innocence, on brotherhood, on civilization itself.

Details are just beginning to emerge about the victims. The countries they came from. The lives they lived and the lives they looked forward to living. One survivor attacked the gunman with a credit card machine. Others died trying to protect their family, friends, and neighbors.

Naeem Rashid, age 49, tried to overpower the shooter. He and his son, 22-year-old Talha Naeem, were killed.

Hosni Ara Parvan, age 42, raced from the women’s section to protect her wheelchair-bound husband. She was killed while shielding him with her body. He survived.

Many more heartbreaking stories will be told over the coming days, and weeks, about these people who we will never know—and we will mourn their loss again.

Already, New Zealand’s Prime Minister has assured the world that her nation’s gun laws will change. That’s welcome news, and I look forward to the day when we can say the same.

But more than our gun laws need to change, because guns aren’t all we need to be worried about. Words and images have been weaponized to spread hate, to infect others with the poisonous ideology of white supremacy and hatred of the “other”—whether that “other” is Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, black, immigrant, female, LGBTQ, or any other group.

Hate is a powerful emotion. It can make a person feel powerful. But it can be defeated by societies that are committed to truth, reason, and love—by individuals who are committed to truth, reason, and love.

Let us commit ourselves to this path. And let no provocation, no outrage, no atrocity, take us from this path. Thank you.