'Unity amongst ourselves' at LOVE Park vigil for New Zealand victims

Andrew Kramer
March 16, 2019 - 10:17 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) - Not far from the iconic sculpture at LOVE Park, in Center City, over 100 people of all faiths and religions formed at tight circle.

One little girl, who was right up front, held up a sign Saturday night that read "I am a proud Muslim-American."

At one point during this interfaith prayer vigil, to mourn the victims of the deadly New Zealand attack, the crowd chanted "you are not alone" then everyone hugged each other.

Michael Richardson, who is Muslim, feels events like this are a must after a tragedy like the mosque massacre.

"I feel that we're living in a country here where we are free, we should be able to practice our faith and do the things we feel to serve God, not hating," he said, adding that he wants to see more "unity amongst ourselves."

Ryan from Delaware County admits he's not religious, but recognizes the importance of vigils like this, so he decided to make the trip to town.

READ: Death toll rises to 50 in New Zealand mosque shootings

"In respect for the people who lost their lives," he said, "for the people who lost their loved ones and to stand up against the bigotry that necessitated the attack that created this."

Rabbi Shelly Barnathan feels all faiths need to become one -- in times like this.

"I think it's inspiring to be all together, to know we have a common faith in humanity and the goodness and what connects us all," she said, "so to see us all and to be all together is really important to healing."

She recalled seeing similar support for the Jewish community after the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting, and says now it's time everyone stands together for the Muslim community and "support all of our brothers and sisters of all faiths."

Religious leaders from all throughout the region showed up to this vigil, and a handful of them addressed the crowd.