Mayor Eric Garcetti, center, was among the city and faith leaders participating in the vigil against hate held at First AME Church in South Los Angeles. (Lizbett Chavez/Mayor of LA.)

As Rev. Dr. Najuma Smith-Pollard, City, community and faith leaders joined together to honor the lives lost to hate in a candlelight vigil hosted by the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department (LA Civil Rights), and First AME Church on May 23.   

The vigil, which included Mayor Eric Garcetti and other city leaders, comes after recent attacks in Buffalo, New York that killed ten people, all African-American, a shooting at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, California that killed one and injured five others.  

Tragedies continued on May 24, when 18 children and two adults were killed by an 18-year-old gunman who entered an at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.  

“In Los Angeles, there is no room for hate and we denounce the plague of racism and violence that has taken so many lives,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We come together in sorrow and anger, but also with purpose — to commit to fighting back with the love and belonging that define our City of Angels.” 

“While our hearts are heavy in grief at the loss of the lives that were stolen from us in Buffalo and Laguna Woods, honoring each of the legacies they left behind is precisely how we even begin to combat prejudices and hate,” said Councilmember Curren Price.  

“Our country has reached a crossroad, where tolerance is fleeting and skin tones are weaponized; we must not allow ignorance to flourish and we certainly cannot go back to where we once were. Our differences are, after all, what makes us great. United we will always stand.” 

“We stand together with sorrow and loss that we are holding yet another vigil. We need to recognize this for what it is – a crisis of hate,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz.  

“Vigils like these are happening far too often here in California and across the country. Shootings and homicides have continued to surge since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Los Angeles has been no exception.  With such staggering numbers and the sharp increase in hate crimes, this is yet another reason why I’ve been working for years to keep the most dangerous guns out of circulation and working to prevent those who are not legally allowed to possess them from having access to them.” 

“We are hosting this vigil to honor the lives lost to hate in Buffalo and to create space for people to grieve, heal, and find community across cultures and across faiths,” said Capri Maddox, executive director of the L.A. Civil Rights department.  

“These deadly attacks were not isolated incidents. Hate crimes and racially motivated violence against many communities is rising in the U.S., including right here in Los Angeles. We need to stand together and make it known that when they come for one of us, they come for all of us.” 

The candlelight vigil in First A.M.E.’s chapel and parking lot included a reading of the names of those killed in recent hate-motivated attacks and a prayer led by different faith leaders. Attendees also included LAPD Chief Moore, leaders from the Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Bahai and Episcopal faiths, African-American church leaders, as well as leaders from Asian American Advancing Justice-LA, Korean American Christian Coalition, and Women Against Gun Violence. The vigil provided a space for mourning, healing, and building solidarity against hate across cultures and faiths.  

Hate-motivated attacks in the U.S. are at their highest level since 2001, and are continuing to rise both locally and nationally. Hate crimes increased statewide by 31% in 2020, driven primarily by a rise in anti-Black bias, according to the California Department of Justice. That same year, hate crimes in the City of Los Angeles also rose against Latinos, transgender individuals, and immigrants. Hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the city more than doubled. 

Resources were also shared from the LA Civil Rights Department’s LA for All campaign, an anti hate PSA campaign in 18 languages that shares resources to report hate crimes and hate incidents in the city. Multi-colored posters let people know that if they see or experience a hate crime or incident, they can report it to LAPD or by calling 311 or 211.