Press-Telegram (Long Beach)

Tribute mourns COVID-19 victims

Local and state elected officials attend ceremony at cemetery in Gardena; event is streamed online

- By Hunter Lee hlee@scng.com

A memorial service at the Roosevelt Memorial Park Cemetery in Gardena on Friday evening honored residents across Los Angeles County and beyond who have died from coronaviru­s-related causes.

The service was streamed online to prevent a large gathering.

Assemblyma­n Mike Gipson — whose 64th District includes parts of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Torrance, West Long Beach, Harbor Gateway, Lynwood and Wilmington — called on local leaders and others in his district to help collect the names of residents who have died from the virus.

“Although we cannot congregate as we once did,” Gipson said, “we come together to pay homage, respect and recognitio­n to those who have lost their lives to this pandemic.

“Those are our mothers, our fathers,” he added, “sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins.”

Long Beach Councilman Al Austin, Compton Councilwom­an Michelle Chambers and Lynwood Mayor Marisela Santana spoke during the ceremony. When it was their turns, they each stepped forward carrying wreaths bearing the names of their cities.

“I hope that we can band together and pray this can all be over soon,” Santana said. “It’s not California, it’s not Texas, it’s not Mexico, it’s not Washington.

“This affects all of us; we’re all in this together,” she added. “We’re all being affected one way or the other.”

Austin, for his part, noted how the forced isolation of the previous year has prevented community mourning — and assured viewers that officials are doing everything they can to end the pandemic.

“Because of this pandemic, we have not been able to come together to grieve as a community,”

Austin said. “So I’m grateful to come together with Assemblyma­n Gipson and other leaders to let you know that we care, and we’re going to make sure this vaccine rollout is as aggressive and strong as it possibly can be.”

More than 120 names were read aloud during the service, but as many leaders reminded viewers, they represent a fraction of the lives lost across the country.

Los Angeles Public Health officials reported 144 new deaths linked to the coronaviru­s Friday, bringing the total to 21,910 since the pandemic began. More than half a million have died nationally.

At ceremony’s end, Gipson and state Sen. Steven Bradford, whose 35th District stretches from Inglewood to San Pedro, lit four candles to signify hope: Hope for the 64th district. Hope for Los Angeles County. Hope for California. And hope for the nation.

 ?? PHOTO BY AXEL KOESTER ?? Le Cresha Gipson, reading names of people who died of COVID-19 or related illnesses at lectern, is joined by Rudy Melendez during a memorial services Friday at Roosevelt Memorial Park Cemetery in Gardena on Friday.
PHOTO BY AXEL KOESTER Le Cresha Gipson, reading names of people who died of COVID-19 or related illnesses at lectern, is joined by Rudy Melendez during a memorial services Friday at Roosevelt Memorial Park Cemetery in Gardena on Friday.

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