Opinion: Rose Park’s other tragedy

People Post is a space for opinion pieces, letters to the editor and guest submissions from members of the Long Beach community. The following is an op-ed submitted by Gretchen Swanson, a 23-year resident and community leader in the neighborhood of Rose Park, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Long Beach Post.

How will Long Beach celebrate this season of giving?

During the holidays, I am profoundly reminded of my mother’s moral compass: If you believe it, then act on it. I vividly remember being bunched in the car with my siblings on a cold Sunday morning in rural New York as my mother drove us to church to drop off boxes of food for a family in need. We kids didn’t know the family, but my mother knew of the need. That was the day we learned empathy.

This memory still moves me more than 60 years later, and today I am overwhelmed by it. I am writing today filled with sadness and loss. Last week in the heart of my neighborhood of Rose Park, we suffered a mass shooting. In the wake of this senseless tragedy, the needs of the affected families, our neighborhood, and our city are immense.

Gratefully, there has been an outpouring of help and support. Without prompting or direct connection, Alpert Jewish Family Service set up a hotline—562-427-7916—for those needing support. Soon after the event, our City of Long Beach Health Department came forward to help. It went above and beyond simple handouts and numbers to call. More than two dozen individuals came to Rose Park to walk with us, listen to what we needed, and meet those directly affected by the shooting where they live to make sure they’ve been touched and have ways to connect further. I’m deeply moved and transformed by this selflessness. Still, it will take a long time for our community to heal.

My neighborhood of Rose Park has been hit not only by national newsworthy tragedy, but also by the systematic displacement of our residents. In the past year, long-term residents of whole buildings have been evicted. Hundreds of my neighbors have been forced from their homes. This is another kind of tragedy, and it will take decades for our community to heal.

I want our community to heal. But I want us to not just recover; I want us to thrive. To do that, we must act on our strength and kindness to care for those who need our love.

You may think, “Thank goodness it wasn’t my neighborhood.” And I’m glad it wasn’t. But Rose Park is everyone’s neighborhood. Lots of young people, multiple generations, multiple races and ethnicities. Everyone deserves to be safe from gun violence, and for many, their safe haven is their home.

But this holiday season, many residents across the city and the state are getting pushed out and evicted before a new statewide renter protection law goes into effect on Jan. 1. My wish for healing our community following the recent tragedy in Rose Park is that we protect our residents and neighbors from another kind of tragedy. I ask our City Council to help keep people in their homes by passing an urgent moratorium on unjust evictions this Tuesday, Nov. 5. The residents of Rose Park need it. The residents of Long Beach need it.

And in the words of my mother, if you believe it, then act on it. Let’s act with love to ensure that our community is safe and home for the holidays.


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