The San Fernando Valley based Interfaith Solidarity Network expanded its fourth annual march on Sunday, June 12, for the first time to include a music festival that it described as “Coachella with a little bit of faith and soul.”
The festival was eclectic, with music that represented the diversity of the Valley’s various cultures and religious traditions, drawing the talents from the Sikhs of LA, Bethel Lutheran, Temple Aliyah and Cantor Mike Stein, H.O.P.E.’s House Christian Ministries and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.
Speakers noted the importance of interfaith gatherings with a troubling surge of antisemitic activity, hate crimes and gun violence.
ADL Los Angeles, which includes the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Kern, saw 182 total antisemitic incidents in the region in 2021 – a 29% spike over 2020 and a shocking 217% spike over 2017, according to the ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents released last April.
Nationwide, antisemitic incidents reached “an all-time high” in 2021, with a total of more than 2,700 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to the ADL. It was the highest number since the organization began tracking such incidents in 1979.
Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense
In addition to the music festival, the San Fernando Valley chapter of Mom’s Demand Action participated in the interfaith event for the first time.
“My mother was a survivor of gun violence, and I was raised with the understanding and the idea that guns in the home can be very dangerous,” said volunteer Stacey Moseley, a mother of an 11- and 15-year-old.
“The rise in mass shootings from Pulse to Sandy Hook to Aurora, and then the Parkland shooting really got me very inspired to take action,” she said.
Moms Demand Action has established a volunteer chapter in every state of the country.
“When my oldest was in kindergarten, the Sandy Hook shooting happened and I was pretty affected by that as most moms were,” Moseley said.
“I’d say that many of us get involved with gun violence prevention because of the mass shootings. But then you get in, and you realize that daily gun violence is really one of the biggest factors in our country of what’s plaguing us,” she believes.
“Mass shootings are traumatic and awful, and they’re horrendous, obviously. But they’re a very small percentage of the gun deaths that actually happen in our country. The reality is, we’re a nation of survivors at this point. You know, we can’t even recover from the Buffalo shooting [the racist shooting of 10 Black people in a supermarket] before another mass shooting in Uvalde happened,” said Moseley, adding “we’ve been impacted and traumatized” by gun deaths with 65% of them being suicides.
“I can count on all hands and feet the amount of people I know that have lost a loved one to suicide by gun,” she said. “My husband lost his best friend to suicide. So [gun violence] is relentless.”
Moms Demand Action also wants universal background checks and red flag laws that would allow guns to be confiscated from people who are showing concerning signs, including risk of suicide.
Framework for Federal Legislation
While Moseley believes people are numb to the fact that their legislators haven’t been doing anything to seek change, she’s seen some progress perhaps brought on by public pressure, noting that 10 years ago, legislators wouldn’t return a phone call but now may even show up to their events and ask to speak.
“We have the framework for the first federal legislation in 26 years,” Moseley said, “so the number one thing people can do right now is reach out to their senators, and tell their family and friends in other states to reach out to their senators to make sure that while this bill is not everything that we want, it is a baby step and hopefully it will become a bill. It’s the first time we’ve had legislators somewhat listening to us.
“[Senators] Padilla and Feinstein are very likely to vote for this. We know that because of their stance on gun violence prevention. But they need to hear from us because they’re also hearing from the people that don’t want this legislation to pass. We need to call them, we need to thank them. We need to encourage them to bring them to a vote. And we need to encourage our family and friends throughout the country, especially in states where, you know, the senators are lining their pockets with NRA’s money.”
She attributes the rise in gun ownership with rising extremism.
“We’re seeing a rise in the sort of individualism with rhetoric to take back the country and their brand of patriotism — ‘taking back our country,’” Moseley said. “It’s a manufactured identity in a sense, you know, there are T-shirts and there’s, you know, the NRA is a part of this, but there’s an entire culture that is now making so much money off of this sort of tactical and military cosplay existence.
“We saw at Pride festival in Idaho where 31 Patriot [Front] members were arrested. So all of this is very interconnected, no question. We have to be louder because that’s a very small minority, but they just happen to be very loud. It will take electing the right people to make something happen.”
Moseley also attended last weekend’s March for Our Lives rally in downtown Los Angeles organized by young people who’ve been impacted by gun violence.
“Those kids that were in Parkland are now able to vote, they’re organizing, and I guarantee they’ll be running for office at some point,” she said.
“But they shouldn’t have to. They should be able to go to school and choose the career path that they want, and not have to be activists.”
For more information go to: www.momsdemandaction.org. Put in your zip code and a listing will appear of all of the events in the San Fernando Valley and you can sign up. You can also text the word Act, to the numbers to the number 64433 which will provide text messages for upcoming events in your area.