Tragedy and community in San Bernardino (#AT30)
On Wednesday, December 9, Larry Mantle and AirTalk convened a conversation at the University of Redlands about the attack in San Bernardino that occurred a week earlier. The discussion was the last event in the AT30 series, and it focused on how the San Bernardino community was coping and healing following the tragedy.
Throughout the evening, there was much praise of the San Bernardino Police Department’s response to the shooting. San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan remarked, “I’m incredibly proud of the men and women in our department and the way they responded.” Brian Levin, who directs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at CSU San Bernardino, echoed the sentiment, praising the police’s actions as a “textbook example of how to respond to a terrorist attack.”
The discussion went on to highlight a need for continued healing among individuals and the community as a whole. “How do communities heal after incidents like this?” asked Cassie MacDuff of the Press-Enterprise. Following the recognition of the police efforts, Burguan continued, “Police officers go into autopilot while they’re there and doing what needs to be done. It’s the after part that becomes difficult to deal with.” Larry Humphreys is the executive director of Behavioral Autism Therapies, which works frequently with the Inland Regional Center. He noted that all those present and involved with responding to the attack were still getting therapy.
The impact on the San Bernardino Muslim community was a core topic of discussion. Amjad Khan is the national director of Public Affairs for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community based in Chino and a leader at the San Bernardino County–based Baitul Hameed Mosque. He shared the hundreds of messages of support that his mosque has received saying, “We know that this is not what Islam stands for.” He continued, “Your track record in San Bernardino County speaks for itself; we are there with you.” He called San Bernardino an “incredibly diverse and tolerant place,” but added, “As American Muslims, we have to shoulder a greater burden.” Khan went on to stress the importance of the Muslim community exercising its “quintessential religious rights” by continuing their traditional practices. An audience member from Fontana later asked about the key differences between the Islam practiced by Khan’s community and the views held by groups such as ISIS. Khan went into great detail contrasting the beliefs of most Muslim communities and those that he and University of Redlands chaplain John Walsh referred to as “perversions.”
The conversation also addressed anti-Muslim sentiment. Khan recalled hearing of a Muslim woman whose car was searched while trying to put groceries away. An audience member from Loma Linda wearing a hijab shared that while her community was very supported, anti-Muslim rhetoric was still present in spaces like social media; she still felt the need to be escorted for her safety.
Other audience questions reflected an eagerness to participate in action. Some sought guidance on dialogue: “How do we best discuss the issues of terrorism both domestic and abroad with our children without giving them nightmares but while keeping them informed?” Others asked for practical steps they could take, with one audience member offering the support of his local Rotary Club membership.
The panel and audience repeatedly reinforced the sense of unity that has followed the tragedy. Levin exclaimed, “This was a grand opportunity for San Bernardino and the Inland Empire to show the world that we can do things and we’re united by values.” First Presbyterian Church pastor Sandy Tice recalled the recent vigil as being standing room only, and went on to summarize the determination of the San Bernardino community when she remarked to audience cheers, “If you live in San Bernardino, you are resilient.”
Larry Mantle, Host of AirTalk
Jarrod Burguan, Chief, San Bernardino Police Department and University of Redlands alumnus
Larry Humphreys, Executive Director of Behavioral Autism Therapies which worked frequently with the Inland Regional Center
Amjad M. Khan, National Director of Public Affairs for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community based in Chino, a leader at the San Bernardino County-based Baitul Hameed Mosque
Brian Levin, Director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at CSU San Bernardino and professor of Criminal Justice
Cassie MacDuff, Staff Columnist at The Press-Enterprise in Riverside
Sandy Tice, Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of San Bernardino
John Walsh, University Chaplain and Faculty Member, Department of Religious Studies, University of Redlands