Microphone in hand, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) had just finished remarking on the size of the crowd that was crammed tightly into the brick-covered main street of the Oregon District in Dayton, Ohio, on Sunday night when a single voice rang out.
“Do something!” the person shouted. Seconds later, another voice echoed the demand. Others quickly joined in, “Do something!” they yelled. Their cries grew louder with each iteration until what started as just a smattering of voices had morphed into a deafening chant that reverberated around the historic street near where nine people were killed and 27 injured in the weekend’s second mass shooting early Sunday morning.
The impassioned chanting, which interrupted Sunday’s vigil in Dayton, went viral on social media and represents yet another manifestation of the public’s frustration with elected officials in the wake of back-to-back massacres carried out by people armed with assault-type weapons. On Saturday morning, roughly 13 hours before the shooting in Dayton started, a gunman opened fire at a Walmart shopping center in El Paso, killing at least 20 people before he surrendered to police.
On Sunday, the hundreds of mourners who gathered were grieving, but they also struggled with another emotion: anger.
The outrage appeared to reach its boiling point when DeWine stepped up to the microphone. DeWine became governor of Ohio last year, but in the past has held multiple elected positions, including more than a decade as a U.S. senator.
The “amazing crowd” was “a real testament to the love and the resiliency of this great and wonderful community,” DeWine said Sunday, drawing applause. An American flag hanging behind the stage fluttered gently in the wind.
But when the cheers subsided, the chants began, becoming louder and louder as DeWine attempted to continue his address.
“We are here tonight because we know . . . We know that we cannot . . . We know that we cannot ease the pain of those families who have lost someone,” he spoke haltingly over the chanting crowd. “We also know that we want to do something.”
DeWine’s assurance did little to quell the dissent, and soon the cries became so intense that the governor could barely be heard. Video of the scene showed people raising their fists and waving signs calling for the end of gun violence, while others silently stared straight ahead with grim expressions.
“We are tired of vigils!”
“What do we want? Gun control! When do we want it? Now!”
Just days after the synagogue shooting in Poway, Calif., on April 27, DeWine announced his administration was working on a “red-flag law” they hoped would get through a GOP-controlled legislature, Cleveland.com reported. As of this year, more than a dozen states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws that allow authorities to seize guns from people deemed to be threats to themselves or others.
However, DeWine told local media on the campaign trail last year that his support for “red flag” legislation hinged on whether there would be due process involved, which is similar to the National Rifle Association’s stance on the issue, according to Cleveland.com. Though DeWine did not have the NRA’s backing at the beginning of last year’s gubernatorial election, the organization ultimately endorsed him, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. In May, DeWine and Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (R) were talking with Second Amendment advocates about the possible measure, but a bill had not been drafted yet, the Enquirer reported.
In an interview with WCMH, Cate Berger said she was one of the people who yelled at DeWine during the vigil.
“Of course, I’m deeply sad but I’m angry,” Berger said. “Strangely comforting that there are others that feel that way. It’s overwhelming to feel that maybe no one cares.”
Dayton wasn’t the only place where the words “do something” showed up over the weekend. Republican lawmakers who wield influence in Washington and control the two states in which the shootings occurred drew similar criticism nationwide for falling short in providing a solution to gun violence, The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez and Paul Kane reported.
A “#DoSomething” hashtag appeared on Twitter, most often accompanying fiery tweets calling for the country’s leaders to take action. On Sunday, the words were even yelled during a nationally televised Major League Soccer match between D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union, The Post’s Des Bieler reported.
“Congress, do something now. End gun violence!” Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya shouted into a field microphone on the side of the pitch after he scored the game’s opening goal. “Let’s go!”
After the game, Bedoya told reporters that he isn’t “going to sit idly and wait for things to happen 50 years from now,” adding, “I want change now.”
“One thing I’ll say is, more guns are not the freaking answer,” the 32-year-old said, his comments later drawing support from his coach and the executive director of the league’s players union.
As the “Do something!” chant continued Sunday in the Ohio city even after DeWine had finished speaking, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (D) attempted to remind the crowd of why they had come together.
“I love you all, but this is a vigil tonight,” Whaley said. “This is a vigil for the people we have lost.”
She added: “There will be time to take action, but let us come together as a community as we work to heal. We are here to heal tonight.”
Arelis R. Hernández contributed to this report from Dayton, Ohio.
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