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Evangelical group salutes first responders at 9/11 ceremony

WHITTIER — Hundreds of people attended a Sept. 11 remembrance event in Uptown Whittier, paying tribute to those lost while also saluting the first responders that keep Whittier safe. 

 

Pastor Joe Ortiz of the Whittier Area Evangelical Ministerial Alliance helped to organize the event, which began with a prayer walk outside the police station and culminated on the grass space on Greenleaf Avenue. 

 

He estimated about 500 people attended the event. 

 

“We’ve been seeing the protests and violence around the country and it has even touched our own city here in Whittier,” he said. “We’ve been concerned that the righteous people, the church people, have to step up and have their voices heard as well.” 

 

Ortiz called his event “a demonstration to the public that churches are in support of our city, police department and our first responders, and all those that are serving us in those capacities.” 

 

The evangelical alliance has put on several public events in the last several months, including a prayer festival at Central Park. Another event is scheduled for Sept. 25. 

 

The 9/11 event featured participation by seven pastors from seven churches, Ortiz said. Police officers and firefighters attended, as did Mayor Joe Vinatieri and council members Fernando Dutra and Jessica Martinez. 

 

Ortiz called the ceremony “a protest against the protests.” 

 

“We are here to provide alternative viewpoints and alternative voices,” he said. “All voices matter. We need to be sure that our voices get heard as well.” 

 

The event concluded with the ringing of a bell 19 times, symbolizing the 19 years since the 9-11 attacks.

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