Somber Hook Mill Gathering for Parkland Victims

‘We thought we were safe in our schools’
A vigil for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting was held at Hook Mill in East Hampton on Saturday. About 100 people attended, many taking red roses from a bucketful donated by Wittendale's Florist. Durell Godfrey

A crowd estimated at more than 100 people gathered at Hook Mill in East Hampton Village at dusk on Saturday in a hastily called vigil to honor the victims of the Feb. 14 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., a former police officer, was among those who spoke. He called for movement in Washington on meaningful gun reform. “May we leave here today with the resolve that as members of the human family we speak with a single voice in articulating our demand that our federal elected representatives address this issue as a national priority,” he said.

Bundled up against the chill and under a lowering sky, the group stood in a semicircle around a large board on which a red heart had been outlined, inside of which the names of the 17 students and faculty killed in the high school shooting were written. Those in attendance were invited to take a rose from a bouquet donated by Wittendale’s Florist and placed on a sign-up table.

Gerry Mooney, one of the organizers, read the names of the dead from a copy of The New York Times. Vivian Viloria-Fisher, who is one of a field of candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Representative Lee Zeldin for the First Congressional District in November, was among the crowd but did not speak.

East Hampton Town Councilman Jeffrey Bragman did speak, however, and had strong words for Mr. Zeldin, who he said had earned a top rating from the National Rifle Association. “So our task is simple, but as a friend has reminded me, simple, but not easy. We must end the N.R.A.’s ability to purchase the indifference and complicity of elected officials like Lee Zeldin,” he said.

“We thought we were safe in our schools. We thought we were safe in our shopping malls and our workplaces. We certainly thought we were safe listening to a concert or watching a movie. Members of Congress thought they were safe playing baseball on an open field or talking to their constituents at town hall meetings. We thought we were safe in our churches. And today, we think we are safe in our community and our houses, but we are not,” Mr. Bragman said.

Other speakers included the Rev. Donald P. Hammond of the Amagansett Presbyterian Church and Genesis Carino, a student at East Hampton High School who read a poem she wrote after the Parkland shooting.

“Tonight no one is getting second chances. Young men are killing children all around in masses. The time has come for action. We have to make a change. Stop the stream of tears,” she said.

In addition to Mr. Mooney, the vigil was organized by East Hampton Town Trustee Brian Byrnes, Kathy Byrnes, Neil Hausig, and Anna Skrenta.

The vigil ended 45 minutes after it began with the group singing the John Lennon song “Imagine.” As it broke up, many stepped forward to write messages on the heart poster before going home to get warm. The snow and rain held off until everyone was gone. The poster and untaken flowers remained for several days as a somber reminder.

Gerry Mooney and Vivian Viloria-Fisher, a candidate for the New York First Congressional District Democratic nomination, led the singing of John Lennon's "Imagine."Durell Godfrey
East Hampton Town Councilman Jeffrey Bragman, left, and Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. also spoke.Durell Godfrey
Many of the participants in Saturday's gathering held roses donated by a local flower shop.Durell Godfrey
Young, as well as old, stood somberly at Hook Mill.Durell Godfrey