After Larry King’s murder last week what really can be written? As our feature article discusses, the 15-year-old’s death struck a deeply resonant chord throughout Ventura County. The sadness, outrage and frustration carried through a Feb. 15 vigil dedicated to King’s memory, a Feb. 16 rally in Oxnard and in homes throughout the county.
Little is still known about the truth of what happened on Feb. 12. No one will ever quite know.
For now we must resist the anger we feel over such a young — and reportedly bright and friendly — individual being taken from us. We must allow the legal system to take its course and have faith that a just outcome will follow in court. We do no honor to King’s memory if we jump to conclusions, demand revenge or take out our anger on the alleged shooter, also a young and likely confused individual, or his family.
Instead, King’s legacy and our society are better served if we follow the lead of King’s family, which, in offering to donate King’s organs, chose to offer a new chance for life from his death. That gesture symbolizes the predicament our community faces. How do we transform the pall cast over our hearts into a positive situation without exploiting King’s passing for our own goals, our own ideals?
When hundreds of people gathered to honor King and stand up against violence at events this past weekend, they signified that even in this trying time there is still an incredible amount of love surrounding us. The Friday vigil was organized hastily, yet the word got out, and mourners came from all over the community. They formed bonds with strangers and comforted King’s friends and fellow students. As they marched in candlelight to the end of the Ventura Pier, they took the first steps toward rejecting fear, rejecting intimidation, rejecting hate.
An even greater sign of hope came Saturday at a rally organized by Larry’s students which brought hundreds of people to the streets of Oxnard. Their action showed that a violent act between two of their peers was an abomination. It proved there is much reason to be hopeful for the future of our community if adolescents witness to a horrible act of brutality chose to respond not with fear or anger but strength and love spilling out through the streets.
By communicating with each other, with lovers and family and strangers they showed understanding can be forged between people who do not necessarily see eye to eye on every issue. Now that same communication needs to continue so nobody will feel it necessary to face that which they do not know or understand with violent outbursts. Whatever the motive of Larry’s killer, it cannot be denied that our society still has a long way to go toward inclusiveness, nor can it be denied that many people suffer as targets of harassment and humiliation because of their differences, whether based on their sexuality, their race, their nationality, their spirituality, their appearance or any other factor.
Those of us among older generations must take heed of our children. We must no longer rabidly pursue our own self interest to the detriment of our future. It is absolutely essential that we begin listening to our youth, that we focus on their needs, on their hopes, on their anxieties. We must get to know them, we must communicate with them or we will be doomed to pass the hatred and violence and divisions surrounding us to yet another generation.
Our challenge to the community is to get involved. Show somebody younger than you that there are other options besides violence. Show them that society’s strength is its diversity, that unique individuals offer unique gifts. Show them that they have potential.
For those who want to get involved we will close by offering some opportunities. Please take advantage of them as you best feel fit.
A public memorial service for King will be held Friday, Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. at the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Hueneme. The church is located at 755 Bard Rd. in Port Hueneme.
On Saturday, Feb. 23, a “Kid’s First — Stop the Violence” rally will take place in Oxnard. The event, organized by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme is an opportunity for every member of the community at every age to find out how they can get involved with children and a chance to pledge to make children the top priority for society. Civic leaders, clergy, educators and community leaders will speak at the event. The gathering begins at 9 a.m. at Oxnard’s Plaza Park at 500 South C. St. From there they will march to a 10 a.m. rally at the Boys & Girls Club’s Martin V. Smith Center at 1900 W. Fifth St.
There is also a memorial fund for King. Donations can be sent to the Lawrence King Memorial Fund, c/o Rabobank, 155 South A St., Oxnard, CA 93030. More information about the fund can be found on the Web site of the Ventura County Rainbow Alliance at #www.lgbtventura.org.#
The Rainbow Alliance also offers a Youth Empowerment Program for young people between 13- and 23-years-old [Corrected age range replaces earlier editions and print article] who may be questioning their sexuality or gender identity . The program is a safe, anonymous adult-free zone (with the exception of a trained counselor for guidance) where these individuals can connect with others facing similar challenges. More information about that program can be found on the Web site or by calling 339-6340.
Finally, those who want to know more about Lawrence King and discuss where the community can go from here can visit the Lawrence King Memorial Web site at www.rememberlarry.com. The site also features a photo gallery of King’s life, a tolerance and anti-violence forum, a guestbook, and more information about the memorial fund.