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Badscience and I were coming back from a bit of kayaking "up north" and gave a call to our friend Joe to hear how Friday's Overpass Light Brigade action in Madison went. We had coordinated our message with a tactical media group in NYC, The Illuminator, and I was eager to hear how the dual live stream worked out. Joe told us the news, breaking even then, of yet another mass killing in America, this one in Milwaukee.

An impromptu candlelight vigil in Milwaukee's Cathedral Square was quickly organized for that very evening. We were hitting a traffic snarl at 5:30 south of Sheboygan. Bumper to bumper due to lane closures. A freeway parking lot for 45 minutes. I called Joe and suggested he put the word out on Facebook that we would need some volunteers to hold lights, and that he would have to get our message checked, prepped and packed. We all discussed the phrase that we wanted to bring. How can we adequately express our deep collective sadness, indeed the heartbreak of the recurring nightmare, the Groundhog Day of violent gunplay, killing and killing and killing again?

We got home. Joe had the signs ready. Quick bite to eat, grab the cameras, head downtown. People were already gathering in the square. The sun was setting, camera crews were arriving. It is awkward to be happy to see friends, to be happy to be alive, yet within the immediacy of such pain. A number of members of the Sikh community arrived. Candles were passed out. Some folks, perhaps from an ashram, sat down to the side in lotus, two harmoniums playing lovely delicate breathy chords while they sang haunting repetitive melodies.
Plenty of people came out to help hold the message. Wisconsin Weeps. News choppers circled overhead. Policemen were there, thoughtful about their own down and wounded. Mortality whispered to us. People surrounded a circle of light, and some chose to speak. Others stared at the flickering candles, shielded their flames against the night breeze.
A few hundred people were gathered around the circle of light, the ashram singers chanted off to one side, our lighted message a backdrop with the sad city behind. Tonight all we could do was bear witness. Perhaps tomorrow we can begin to deal with the barbaric insanity of our aggressively violent culture. After a few days of mediated hand-ringing and a bellicose NRA, perhaps we can finally sit down and have that mythical talk about violence, hate, intolerance and racism that saturates the radio waves.

Meanwhile, our hearts go out to the victims and their families and our world.

Man prays at candlelight vigil for Sikh temple slaying

Originally posted to noise of rain on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA, Badger State Progressive, and Headwaters.

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