“Having left, Washington D.C. less than 24 short hours ago, it is with great horror that I heard this morning about my friend Gabby, colleague Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others who were deliberately shot. I know Congresswoman Giffords very well, prior to us both moving our offices last month; we and our staffs’ worked next door to each other for the last two years. We walk together many times a day to case our votes on behalf of the American public.
Although we do not know the motive of the gunman, this incident demonstrates that the debates in Washington, D.C. are not restricted to the Capitol Along. In particular the health care bill, “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”, and even more volatile Arizona law “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighbors Act (SB 1070) often needlessly put those who serve in a senseless line of fire.
As the former chair of the Homeland Security sub-Committee for Federal Emergency Communications and Response, it is disturbing but not shocking that Congresswoman Giffords and her staff would be the victims of an attack while in the active service of constituents.
This horrific incident serves notice to those of different ideas and to those who report those differences that words of disagreement must be said and reported in a civil manner to convey proper discourse and example for the public.
Since August 2009, my colleagues and I have received hate emails, threats that seem to be escalating and, in some cases, encouraged. Whether it is spitting at someone, holding a hateful sign, or spewing a racial slur; now is the time for all leaders, all parties, and all organizers to stop fueling hate against anyone regardless of their perspective on issues or level and position.
I urge all Americans to pray for Representative Giffords, her staff and all injured, and I stand ready to return to Washington, D.C. tomorrow to work on ensuring this incident never happens again.
Congresswoman Richardson is a Democrat from California’s 37th Congressional District. She is a member of the House Committees on Transportation & Infrastructure and Homeland Security and is chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response. Her district includes Long Beach, Compton, Carson, Watts, Willowbrook and Signal Hill.