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Photo by Bruce Adler
Borough President Melinda Katz, along with elected officials, community leaders and advocates hosted a boroughwide interfaith candlelight prayer vigil together in memory of the victims of the recent hate-filled crimes and terrorism in America, including the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa.

In the wake of Saturday’s massacre in Pittsburgh, Pa. that left 11 people killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue — the deadliest attack on Jews in the U.S. — we’ve seen people across the country come together and call for the end of such atrocities.

We’ve always seen strong immediate reactions to such hate-filled mass murders, but still, nothing has changed. That is a huge problem.

If we, as a society, can’t make changes in the wake of tragedy, it says more about us than it does about the people behind these attacks.

In Queens, we’ve seen a strong push led by our borough’s leaders to eradicate hate.

Earlier this week, Borough President Melinda Katz, joined by elected officials, community leaders and advocates, led a borough-wide interfaith candlelight prayer vigil in memory of the victims of the recent spate of hate-filled crimes and terrorism across the country.

Vigils were also held in Jackson Heights and Bay Terrace.

That several religions joined forces and offered their support is a terrific first step. But the fight doesn’t end there.

Our country has been reactionary when it comes to addressing issues such as hate crime and gun violence. Rather than be reactionary, we need to push to be more proactive.

While individual citizens may not be able to lead the fight, their voices can still be heard and they can still make a difference. Our lawmakers and elected officials must be held responsible to push for official change, but their constituents must be the ones to demand it.

It is our civic duty to speak up and let our lawmakers know that we won’t accept things as they are anymore. Too many people have sat idly by and let these tragedies roll off their backs.

We often think that these incidents will never happen to us, but the truth is that anything can happen to anyone.

As long as there is still hate in this world, no one is truly safe.

The first step toward bringing about change is to ensure we have the proper people in office to lead the charge. We encourage everyone to go out and vote in the Nov. 6 general election. There needs to be an increased effort to give the right people a platform to guide us to a safer tomorrow, and every vote counts.

There also needs to be a renewed push to end gun violence in our borough and beyond.

The Tree of Life Synagogue shooter was armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and at least three handguns. There must be stricter laws in place to keep weapons out of the hands of the wrong people.

Additionally, we need to come down harder on hate crimes. Perpetrators found guilty of any sort of hate crime should face stiffer consequences.

We can never completely eradicate hate from our world. But we must continue fighting to limit the damage hateful people can do. What better place to lead the charge is there than Queens, home of nearly 1.1 million immigrants who speak more than 150 languages?

We’ve seen too much hate in our borough, and must find a way to limit hateful acts. It’s not going to be an easy fight, but it’s a battle that is absolutely worth fighting.

For far too long, we’ve sat on our hands while tragedy after tragedy has blown across the country.

It’s time to rise up and make it known that we will no longer accept things as they are. The future is at stake, and we must keep fighting for a better tomorrow.

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