Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris) issued the following statement regarding the Wednesday evening shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.:
“When nine people came to a sanctuary on Wednesday night seeking peace, they were met with war, killed at the hands of a shooter who specifically targeted a historic black church. Our hearts are with the families of the victims of this hate crime, a pastor and choir members and a Montclair State University alumna among them, and towns all across New Jersey mourn with the city of Charleston, South Carolina.
“The unfortunate truth is that this is not an isolated incident. While there will always be those intent upon acting with a spirit of evil and terrorizing spaces of refuge, it is an easy access to deadly weapons that facilitates their ability to cause harm.
“This is bigger than Charleston.
“Discussions about gun violence and race relations are warranted, but they are insufficient. There is a far deeper national conversation that we need to have about our values as a country and about what kind of America we will pass on to future generations. There are choices we need to make. We can choose – actively – to live out our creed of being one nation under God and commit to standing as such against the wickedness that divides us, or we can ignore it. We can choose – actively – to understand one another and acknowledge each other’s humanity, or we can defy our declaration that out of many, we are one. We must realize that these everyday choices will define us.
“Progress begins with each of us – in our families, with our friends, in our schools and offices and places of worship – having the courage to declare that hate, whether it comes in the form of a tawdry joke or a horrific massacre, has no place in our lives.
“My fear in this moment is that an overwhelming sense of powerlessness will consume the many well-meaning individuals who have grown weary in the midst of continuous hatred and violence. Greater than that, however, is my hope that these individuals will instead channel their anger and frustration and utter sadness into a desire to create a nation and a world in which peace is the driving force.”