Grieving from recent gun violence, community members in San Francisco write kind messages in chalk

Right in the middle of a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in San Francisco's Hayes Valley, a dark square chalkboard showed up.

Within an hour, the whole board was covered in colorful messages, calling for community healing and gun control following Wednesday's mass shooting that killed ten people at the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority rail yard.

"When tragedy happens, especially to the families involved, Iike it seems like everything changes for them but the world kind of moves on," Jonathan Stogdill, one of four volunteers partnering with the nonprofit Social Expressions, that helped bring the chalkboard to the park, said.  "So this is just a small part that we can play to remind them that we're. we also have a heart for them, and for what's going on, and we are not going to forget what has happened. 

Philip, a boy who turns five next week, holding a cone of ice cream, was one of the first to sign the board. His mom, Victoria Dimitrakopoulos, a vocal supporter of gun control, found herself explaining to him the tragedy of Wednesday's mass shooting. 

Few people at the park on Sunday were aware that earlier in the day, yet another shooting at a banquet hall in Florida left two people dead and wounded more than 20 others.

"It's endless. The number of people who lose their lives every year is in the tens of thousands, and if you compare it with any other country, it's just preposterous," Dimitrakopoulos said after learning of the Florida shooting.

Tina Lee and her daughter, Jacqueline, paused on their bicycle ride to read the chalk messages, and Jacqueline added her own to the board. 

'I wanted to send love to the families impacted by this tragedy and also remind people to be nice to one another," Jacqueline Lee said.

The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that tracks mass shootings in the United States, counts at least 232 mass shootings this year.

"I think that's the thing that's disturbing. because you don't want it to become something that just happens and it seems so normal," Tina Lee said. "Each time, I think people are shocked, but it happens too much, and you kind of wonder when is it going to stop?' Lee said.

Abdullah Siddique, a San Francisco resident, said that writing a message of support on the chalkboard was one way he could help, but said thoughts and prayers can only do so much.

"Unless we get legislation…passed that can stop these mass shootings, that's all we can do," Siddique said. "We feel a little powerless because it's so sad. So many people have lost so many lives."