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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Candlelight vigil held on UF campus for Thousand Oaks victims

<p>About 50 Gainesville residents and elected officials gathered to honor the victims of Sunday's mass shooting in Jacksonville</p>

About 50 Gainesville residents and elected officials gathered to honor the victims of Sunday's mass shooting in Jacksonville

Jovanna Liuzzo passed out small white candles to nearly 20 people gathered on Turlington Plaza Friday afternoon.

The wicks were black and bent. They’d been burned before.

The wind blew the candles out seconds after Liuzzo, 17-year-old Eastside High School senior, lit them.

“This happened last time,” Amanda Gramacy said.

This vigil wasn’t the first one organized by students from Students Demand Action and March For Our Lives Gainesville. The last vigil Gramacy, a 21-year-old UF applied physiology and kinesiology senior, attended was in February after the mass shooting in Parkland.

The vigil for the 12 victims of Wednesday’s shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, was the second vigil held on campus this month, said Cat Stout, a UF sustainability studies junior. Stout was one of five speakers who stood up on a platform and demanded stricter gun control laws.

Stout, 20-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas alumna, said gun violence has directly affected her family, like many of the other students in attendance at the vigil. Her 18-year-old sister deals with post-traumatic stress disorder after being in the school during the shooting on February 14.

“I remember when I first found out about Thousand Oaks that I felt so sick I couldn’t even read what happened,” Stout said. “But I forced myself to. I forced myself to watch the videos.”

Stout’s hands shook as she spoke to the crowd. She said she felt the same raw, painful emotions after the Parkland shooting as she did when she heard about Thousand Oaks.

Gramacy attended the vigil because her grandparents and father lived in Thousand Oaks.

Gramacy’s grandparents moved to Thousand Oaks from New York when they were in their 30s; they thought it was one of the safest places in the country. She shared memories of the places her dad used to hang out, play tennis and attend school.

“They’re going to remember it as one of the sights of one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history,” Gramacy said.

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Adam Rachlin, a 20-year-old UF political science junior, stood up and asked people to raise their hands if they went to high school, were college students, play video games or go to bars, movies, churches or synagogues.

He said everyone who raised their hand had something in common with one or more victims of recent mass shootings. He urged people passionate about gun control to email their state representative, senator and even the U.S. president.

“I’m not saying I know the answer. I’m not saying you know the answer,” Rachlin said. “But I’m saying we’re never going to have an answer if everyone stays complacent.”

Contact Angela DiMichele at adimichele@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @angdimi

About 50 Gainesville residents and elected officials gathered to honor the victims of Sunday's mass shooting in Jacksonville

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