Vigil to End Violence

End All War.  Photo by Callen Harty.

End All War. Photo by Callen Harty.

When the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin was attacked I felt compelled to go downtown to Wisconsin’s Capitol building with a candle in memory of those slain and wounded and as a way to put out positive energy after such a horrific tragedy. Within a few hours after putting word out dozens of people showed up for a vigil. We honored the fallen with silence, then opened it up to anyone to speak what was on their hearts, and it was an incredibly powerful and moving evening. Two months later there was a shooting at a spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin, so we met again. Two months further down the road came the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting and we felt the urge to meet again. At that time we decided that we would meet on the third Sunday of every month to honor those lost to violence and to put out positive energy toward a more peaceful world.

Unfortunately, we have to keep meeting because the violence does not end. It is not just gun violence. It is guns, knives, hands, bombs, clubs, and on and on. If you can imagine a way for someone to be killed it has been done. It is also not just America. While we have a disproportionate share of violent deaths the problem is worldwide. Our hope is that our little circle will create a ripple that might move outward and help create a more peaceful world. We have had as few as three show up and as many as just under a hundred. If each of those hundred people helped create peace in their part of the world and got a hundred others to do so, and those hundred could do the same the world could change. Idealistic? Yes. Realistic. Probably not. Man is a violent animal, but if we can reach even a few people and create a more positive, peaceful world then maybe some lives could be saved.

Our vigils start with a few minutes of silence for prayer, positive energy, or just silence, whatever works for each participant. We then open it up to people’s thoughts on the violence in our world and the ways that we can achieve peace. It is simple, yet fills me with energy and hope every month.

As a society we are so inured to violence that stories in the media fly by daily without us even noticing them. As an experiment I decided to keep track of all the violent deaths that I heard about between our last vigil and the next one, which will be Sunday. There are a couple more days to track yet, but below is a list of all that I came across. Understand that this is just me interacting with the world. I wasn’t checking every newspaper in every city, state, or country. These are just the ones that filtered through to my eyes and my world, and it is shocking that this is less than one month as seen by one person (5/20-6/16).

If you are in the Madison area please join us the third Sunday of every month. It will refresh you and it can’t hurt to put out positive energy in a world with this much violence. If you are elsewhere consider starting your own vigil to raise awareness in your community.

• 5/20, Beersheeba, Israel: Five dead at a bank shooting, four at the hands of an angry bank customer, who then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
• 5/20, Qusair, Syria: 28 Hezbollah fighters reported killed in Syrian civil war.
• 5/20, Iraq: More than 60 people killed in a series of car bomb explosions throughout the country.
• 5/20, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Sixteen year old youth shot and killed during a street disturbance.
• 5/21, Paris, France: Seventy-eight year old right-wing anti-gay activist committed suicide on the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral after gay marriage became law.
• 5/22, Orlando, Florida: FBI fatally shot Boston bombing interview subject after he lunged at the agent and police with a knife. The agent was slightly wounded.
• 5/22, Woolwich, England: One soldier beheaded in a knife and machete attack and the two attackers wounded by police in an attack near a military barracks.
• 5/23, West Point, Utah: Two boys, aged 4 and 10, stabbed to death by their 15 year old brother.
• 5/23, Busan, South Korea: A man committed suicide by jumping from the 11th floor of a building. He landed on and killed a five year old girl in his fall.
• 5/23, Gaetung, South Africa: A 14-year old boy killed three family members in what may have been related to a Satanic ritual.
• 5/24, Kabul, Afghanistan: Explosion in the heart of the Afghan capital killed ten people. The following day a suicide bomber’s bomb exploded early, killing him.
• 5/24, Sacramento, California: A man being arrested later died after being hit at least ten times with a police baton.
• 5/24, Los Angeles, California: An eight-year old boy died of injuries sustained in a beating. Doctors reported he had a fractured skull, three broken ribs, bb pellets lodged in his lung and groin, and two teeth knocked out.
• 5/25, Raipur, India: 27 people were killed and more than 30 injured after a political party rally in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, including the state party chief and state Congress leader.
• 5/25, Mountain View, Alaska: A man entered an apartment and killed an elderly couple. He apparently sexually assaulted the woman, as well as the couple’s two-year old great granddaughter.
• 5/25, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: A man shot and killed his friend after a night of drinking and fighting.
• 5/25, Trenton, New Jersey: A man was shot multiple times by a 15-year old suspect after an argument.
• 5/26, Makhachkala, Russia: A suicide bomber killed herself and injured 18 others. In the last week four people were killed and 44 wounded by two bombs and three police officers and three suspected militants were killed in separate incidents.
• 5/26, Eden, Texas: Marine kills one and injures five in a shooting rampage. He died in a gunfight with police. He had also been wanted for questioning in the killing of another person in North Carolina.
• 5/26, Chicago, Illinois: From Friday night to Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend six people were killed and at least 11 wounded in shootings around the city.
• 5/27, Hermel, Lebanon: 17 year old girl died in her house from rocket fire.
• 5/28, Arsal, Lebanon: Three Lebanese soldiers were killed by gunmen firing from a car.
• 5/28, Peshawar, Pakistan: A polio vaccination volunteer was killed and another injured when they were ambushed as they went door-to-door to give anti-polio drops to children.
• 5/29, Kabul, Afghanistan: One person died when militants attacked Red Cross housing.
• 5/29, Miran Shah, Pakistan: Taliban deputy commander and four others killed by U. S. drone strike.
• 5/29, Idlib, Syria: An American woman and two other rebel fighters were killed when their car was attacked.
• 5/29, Washington, DC: A man found critically injured from a gunshot wound on Monday died in the hospital on Wednesday.
• 5/29, Chicago, Illinois: A woman was killed in apparent gang fighting crossfire.
• 5/30, Baghdad, Iraq: 25 people were killed in a series of bombings.
• 5/30, Agadez, Niger: A bomb at an army base killed eight of the attackers and 24 others. The same day another bomb at a uranium mining facility killed one and injured 14 others.
• 5/31, San Jose, California: One man was shot to death and another stabbed to death in two separate incidents on two consecutive days.
• 5/31, Mauston, Wisconsin: One woman was killed and another injured in a shooting outside a bar.
• 5/31, Chicago, Illinois: A man was killed outside of a party after an argument that started when three uninvited partygoers were asked to leave.
• 6/1, Niamey, Nigeria: Two prison guards were killed when three prisoners associated with terrorists groups tried to break out of the prison.
• 6/1, Sav-la-mar, Westmoreland, Jamaica: A Wisconsin tourist was killed in crossfire between authorities and robbers.
• 6/2, Tripoli, Lebanon: One person died and 14 were wounded in fighting between rival factions.
• 6/2, LaCrosse, Wisconsin: A man was stabbed behind his left ear during an argument at a Kwik Trip store. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
• 6/2, Chicago, Illinois: A man shot and killed another man and injured a woman after a fender bender and ensuing argument.
• 6/3, Samkani, Afghanistan: Nine schoolchildren, two military personnel, a police officer, and a suicide bomber all died when a bomb exploded.
• 6/3, Laghman, Afghanistan: Seven people died when their vehicle ran over a landmine.
• 6/3, Chicago, Illinois: A man found his roommate beaten to death in a south side apartment.
• 6/4, Baltimore, Maryland: Man was killed by gunfire while waiting for a bus; another man was killed in a separate incident. They were the 91st and 92nd murder victims in the Baltimore area this year.
• 6/4, Rome, New York: Man arrested in a double slaying. Police did not report how the victims died.
• 6/5, Colquechaca, Bolivia: Villagers buried a 17-year old man alive next to the body of the woman he was suspected of raping and killing.
• 6/5, Tres Cruces, Bolivia: Residents stoned to death a suspected thief and killer, and buried his accomplice alive.
• 6/5, New York, New York: A pair of self-help radio hosts killed themselves in a suicide pact.
• 6/5, Trenton, New Jersey: A man died after multiple gunshots just after midnight. He was found on the porch of a home.
• 6/6, Mexico City, Mexico: Two masked men shot and killed four people at a gym in what appeared to be a targeted killing.
• 6/6, Paris, France: A group of right-wing skinheads beat to death a gay activist in a public shopping district in the French capital.
• 6/7, Mexico City, Mexico: The government released figures of those killed in organized crime murders in the country in May. 954 of these murders were reported for the month, down from the previous month.
• 6/7, Baghdad, Iraq: 14 killed and 45 wounded in a series of bombings in and around Iraq’s capital city.
• 6/7, Muqdadiyah, Iraq, 8 Iranian pilgrims killed and 25 injured in a suicide car bomb attack north of Baghdad.
• 6/7, Santa Monica, California: A man killed his father and brother, then went out and killed three more people at a college before police killed him.
• 6/8, Baltimore, Maryland: A New Jersey off-duty policeman was arrested in a road rage killing just south of Baltimore.
• 6/9, Houston, Texas: Man killed with stiletto heel by his girlfriend, who claimed he was attacking her and she stabbed him with the shoe in self-defense. He had multiple stab wounds to the head.
• 6/9, Thornton, Illinois: A man died after police shot him with a taser.
• 6/10, Kabul, Afghanistan: Seven gunmen killed in a building near the airport which had been overtaken by them.
• 6/10, Iraq: 70 people killed and more than 200 wounded across Iraq in insurgent attacks.
• 6/10, Black River Falls, Wisconsin: A woman who died was ruled a homicide, though police were withholding details of how she died until an arrest could be made.
• 6/11, Damascus, Syria: Two suicide bombs killed at least 14 people and injured at least 30 others.
• 6/11, Beloit, Wisconsin: Man killed by police in shooting after he rammed a squad car with his car.
• 6/11, Altoona, Wisconsin: A woman was strangled to death in her apartment over the weekend and her body found on Tuesday. Her body was burned after she died.

6/12, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The man who inspected a building twice in February that collapsed and killed six people in June committed suicide.
• 6/12, Hatlah, Syria: At least 30 Shiite Muslim villagers were killed in a reprisal raid by rebels.
• 6/13, Istanbul, Turkey: According to reports five people have died and more than 5,000 have been injured in demonstrations and police response to the protesters in Taksim Square.
• 6/13, St. Louis, Missouri: An argument at a home health care business turned violent when a man shot three people and then killed himself.
• 6/13, Madison, Wisconsin: Two gunmen entered an east side house and shot and killed a woman and injured her husband while three children under the age of seven watched.
• 6/13, LaGrange, Wisconsin: A man who had brutally beaten another man was shot and killed by Walworth County police after he stole a squad car, wrecked it, and then approached police with their own shotgun.
• 6/14, Mosul, Iraq: A candidate for provincial council was killed in a drive-by shooting.
• 6/15, Quetta, Pakistan: 14 women university students were killed and another 19 injured when a bomb went off in a bus in which they were riding. Another 8 people were killed in continued gunfire.
• 6/15, Omaha, Nebraska: 2 people died in separate shooting incidents. Police shot and killed the suspect in the second shooting about half an hour after it occurred.
• 6/16, Iraq: A string of bombings around the country claimed at least 51 lives and dozens of injuries.

Wishing you peace.

Here is a link to the Facebook event page for the Vigil to End Violence.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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3 Responses to Vigil to End Violence

  1. marcea0k says:

    I wish I were in Madison to join you. But I will raise this idea with the members of our meditation circle and maybe we can begin a northwoods version of the vigil.

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