The County of San Bernardino is holding a private vigil for its employees in the wake of the San Bernardino Massacre that took 14 lives and wounded 22 others, mostly county employees attending a Christmas function earlier this month. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren will speak at the event.
The event is taking place on Monday, Jan. 4, in the west end of the county and is for county employees, families of those killed, invited first responders from other agencies, and about 35 guests. Employees must show county identification to be admitted.
Employees took to social media today after learning that the county invited more than 20 news media organizations to the event. Employees are concerned that once again a media circus will take place where they will be put on display when all they want is a chance to support each other in a private event for the county family.
During the first vigil at San Manual Stadium on Dec. 3, the day after the tragedy, attendees were met with aggressive news media who photographed intimate moments while they consoled one another. It wasn’t until the next day when photographs appeared in major publications did they realize reporters were using telephoto lenses to capture what they thought were private expressions of mourning.
David Wert, Public Information Officer for San Bernardino County, says that the county is keeping media contained. In an email in response to a request for information, he states, “Please keep in mind that the vigil to which you made reference was not a County event.
“On Monday, media access will be severely restricted and no media will be permitted to interact with anyone attending the event inside the venue. All media, including still photographers, will be confined to a suite at the back of the arena from which they will view the event. The media will not be allowed to bring video cameras into the venue.”
That is not enough for some. Shooting victims requested that no media be allowed at all. Now some victims may not attend.
Other county employees are concerned over the choice in guest speakers. They say they would have preferred to hear from a survivor from another mass shooting. They are also concerned that Warren will be divisive in that he does not represent all faiths represented by county workers.
Sources say, but it has not been confirmed, other high profile dignitaries were denied attendance. Sources claim that county officials asked that California Governor Jerry Brown not attend. Union leaders that represented most of the fallen and wounded workers were also denied access to the event.
The county will close its doors at 12 noon on Monday for all but the most essential of services so that those county employees who want to attend can do so. Employees will be paid for a full day whether they attend or not.