Following an outbreak of gun violence on Bethlehem’s South Side last weekend that left one young woman dead and several more critically injured, members of the Lehigh community are being urged to attend an off-campus vigil tomorrow evening.
Early Thursday, Lehigh’s South Side Initiative (SSI) began notifying staff, faculty, students and community members of a prayer and candle vigil against violence scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at the corner of Third and Taylor Streets, not far from the scene of Saturday night’s shootings.
“In the wake of this tragedy, it’s important for our community to come together to reject violence and begin the process of healing,” said Seth Moglen, associate professor of Engligh and director of SSI, which brings together faculty, students and staff with the people of Bethlehem in order to share knowledge, foster democracy and improve quality of life.
“This is an important way for Lehigh folks to express their solidarity and to affirm that we are all part of this community and that we stand together in times of shared sorrow and struggle,” Moglen added. “When any young person dies, it is a tragedy for us all.”
A time to “affirm community”
Local community organizer Guillermo Lopez said he was driven to organize the vigil to help heal the “broken hearts all over the place” and to send a message that violence has no place in a loving and respectful community.
“Choosing violence to settle a petty dispute is not a reflection on all of us. This is not what we are as a community. We are deeply disappointed and heartbroken in the choices these men have made, and I think reinforcing that message can sometimes weigh more heavily than the law,” said Lopez, who is co-director of the law enforcement and community partnership program of the National Coalition Building Institute.
Moglen noted that gun violence plagues communities across the country and is not limited to any group in the city.
“South Bethlehem is a vibrantly diverse and tight-knit community that we all love,” he said. “And as members of an academic community, Lehigh faculty and students can work with our neighbors to understand how to diminish this kind of violence in our city. But tomorrow, it’s time for us to affirm our community—and to share our sorrow.”
The event is also being supported by the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society, the Mayor’s South Side Task Force and El Shaddai Ministries.
Photo by Dana Grubb