East Fifth Street in Dayton’s historic Oregon District was packed with people Sunday night as local leaders and community members gathered for a vigil in memory of the nine victims killed in a weekend shooting.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley was greeted with a roar of applause from the crowd as she stepped on stage and shook hands.
“We can’t be hopeless in the face of inaction in D.C. and in Columbus. We must continue to support one another here at home,” Whaley said. “As we’ve endured these horrible times, this community has learned about each other and what is most important to us. People who never would have crossed paths have helped each other in our most painful moments. Dayton has done what Dayton does best. We take care of each other.”
Ten doves were released during the vigil: one for each victim killed and one that represented the 27 people injured in the attack that happened around 1 a.m. near Ned Peppers Bar on East Fifth Street. The suspected shooter was killed by police less than a minute after he opened fire.
Whaley was joined by several more of Ohio’s elected leaders including Gov. Mike DeWine, and U.S. Reps. Mike Turner of Dayton and Tim Ryan of Youngstown, a 2020 candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. Several city commissioners and county officials also were present.
DeWine told the crowd that he would do everything he could to help Dayton recover. But, the governor was interrupted by chants of “do something.”
DeWine said he was at the vigil to say “we love you” to the people affected by the shooting, though he said he knows that nothing could ease the pain of the families who lost loved ones. DeWine also commented on the crowd, saying it showed Dayton’s strength.
“I think it’s a real testament to the love and the resiliency of this, this great and wonderful community,” DeWine said.
Both Turner and Ryan gave brief speeches, thanked first responders and said a prayer. Turner’s daughter was at the Tumbleweed Connection in the Oregon District when the shooting occurred but was not injured.
“We mourn that evil came here but more than anything, we are a community of one and we reclaim this space as ours,” Turner said. “No one can take that from us.”
Three faith leaders representing different religions each said a prayer during the vigil. Rev. Renard D. Allen Jr. of St. Luke Baptist Church said the community needed to come together and start the process of healing.
“There is no weapon more powerful than the weapon of love. There is no weapon more strong than the weapon of forgiveness,” Allen said. “There is no weapon greater than the weapon of hope and there is no weapon with a better winning record than the weapon of peace.”
Oregon District business owners also spoke to the crowd about how it felt to have their neighborhood attacked.
Jason Harrison, a co-owner of Present Tense Fitness, called on residents and business owners to have the “courage” to “re-imagine what a just and equitable” society should look like.
“I hope what grows in this moment is the courage for us to examine the violent illness with which this country has always suffered. No longer anomalies, these mass shootings are a reflection of who we are and who we have been,” Harrison said. “It’s not good enough for us to say we’re better than this, because we haven’t been.”