Mayor Gives Message on Mental and Public Health After National Tragedies

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft

Mayor Gives Message on Mental and Public Health After National Tragedies

Words can’t capture the horror of the two most recent mass shootings in our country in Uvalde, Texas. and Buffalo, NY, but last weekend, a poignant memorial to the children and teachers killed in Uvalde appeared on the steps of Twin Towers Methodist Church, and spoke volumes. Nineteen child-size chairs and two folding chairs held signs with the name and age of each victim. Passersby left bouquets, and apples on the teachers’ chairs. The memorial was created by Twin Towers Pastor Emily Lin and her twins, who are close in age to the children who perished in Uvalde.

Incredibly, it appears that a majority of U.S. Senators are not similarly moved by the killing of elementary schoolchildren and teachers in Uvalde, and the racially motivated slaying of African Americans in a Buffalo grocery store. Last week the U.S. Conference of Mayors re-issued a letter sent to the U.S. Senate on Aug. 8, 2019, following mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, and signed by a bipartisan group of more than 200 mayors, myself included. The letter called for immediate passage of the Bipartisan Background Check Act and Enhanced Background Checks Act. Those bills failed to secure enough votes for passage in 2019 and are again pending in the Senate. Perhaps this time enough U.S. Senators will find the courage to pass these and other common sense gun measures, including universal background checks and red flag laws.

As we await federal action, here’s what we can do at individual and institutional levels, according to James Densley, a professor at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, and co-author of “The Violence Project,” a solution-focused study that concludes that mass shootings are preventable.

Individually: Safe storage of firearms can prevent a tragedy. In Alameda, if you have a gun at home, it must be stored in a locked container, or disabled with a trigger lock. (Alameda Municipal Code (AMC) 4-32.3) You must also immediately report (within 24 hours) the loss or theft of your gun to the Alameda Police Department (APD), 510-337-8340, or face potential penalties for failing to do so. (AMC 4-32.6) More importantly, a lost or stolen gun can be used for self-harm or to harm others.

Seek help for yourself or others. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, depressed, experiencing emotional distress, or thinking about self-harm, Alameda Family Services (AFS) is a local resource that offers individual counseling and programs for students, families, adults, couples and groups. Contact AFS at (510) 629-6300 or

Institutionally: Speak up at school or work if you become aware, from social media or other communications, that someone is contemplating harming themselves and/or others. If the information involves a student, contact the school principal, a teacher, and/or school counselor. In an employment situation, contact a supervisor. For a situation in progress, call 9-1-1. Report other concerns to APD’s non-emergency number, 510-337-8340. Don’t wait; it is better to be safe than sorry.

We must also stay safe from COVID: The Alameda County Public Health Department reminds residents that COVID-19 cases are increasing in Alameda County and other Bay Area counties, so we need to exercise caution as we enjoy celebrations and summer gatherings: Stay up-to-date on vaccinations, and boosters, if eligible; wear your mask in indoor public settings; get tested if you’re feeling sick; stay home if you feel sick or test positive.

VOTE! At Alameda’s Memorial Day ceremony, we remembered and honored the men and women of our Armed Forces who gave their lives defending the ideals of liberty, equality, and democracy. We honor their legacy by exercising the democratic rights so many gave their lives defending.

June 7 is Statewide Primary Election Day. A Vote by Mail ballot was mailed to every registered voter last month. You can drop off your completed ballot at a 24-hour Ballot Drop Box location, or at a Vote Center, or by mail — postmarked by June 7 and received by June 14; no postage needed. Be sure to sign and date the Voter’s Declaration on the return envelope before submitting your ballot. For more information, call (800) 834-6454 or visit

Be Safe! Be a Voter! Be Alameda Strong!

Ekene Ikeme   A memorial representing the children and teachers killed in the Uvalde, Texas massacre appears on the steps of Twin Towers Methodist Church, 1411 Oak St.