Buffalo, N.Y. (WIVB) — What was supposed to be a night of healing has turned into a night of reflection for the Buffalo community. Members of the Buffalo Public School District gathered today at MLK Park to heal through art and address Tuesday’s shooting in Texas.
School leaders say students remain terrified of going into public and going to school — and now even more terrified of another mass shooting — this time at an elementary school in Texas. That’s what makes today’s event so meaningful, because students want to come together with the community and express themselves.
“This is an opportunity to watch these children perform, their art, music, dance poetry, in tribute to those tragically lost and unworthy,” said BPS parent Robert Chapman.
Students across the BPS put on a performance at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park to help the community and themselves heal from the racially motivated shooting that killed 10 on Buffalo’s East Side.
“I do know that a lot of our kids in Buffalo Public Schools have expressed a fear of mass gatherings and things of this nature,” said Fatima Morrell, BPS associate director for cultural and language response initiatives. Morrell) said. “And they’re also confused as to why a group of people would be targeted based on their skin color.”
“Just being able to pull together, you know, bring the community back together — because what happened in Buffalo wasn’t Buffalo,” added recent high school graduate Peyton Levwich.
School leaders say it’s heartbreaking that the Texas elementary school shooting happened so quickly after the mass shooting in Buffalo.
“I know we have Second Amendment rights, but when kids are dying, what are those rights?” Morrell asked. “What are those rights when poor, innocent grandmothers die in the supermarket? We must prioritize the future of our country, especially our children. What rights are there when you can’t even get home from school?”
This thing in Texas, I think you wake up every day worrying about your kids because these events happen so often,” Chapman said.
Parents and students who attended BPS events said they wanted the community to remain brave.
“You can’t have fear wherever you go,” Leftwich said. “Because you’re isolating yourself everywhere. It’s not helping the situation.”
“Believe in something higher than you,” Chapman said. “I’m a Christian, so I believe in God, but you have to believe the right things, that people are good people. You can’t live if we live in fear – they win.”
BPS leaders said they have been working with students to help quell any fears and concerns following the May 14 shooting. News 4 has learned that the district is trying to figure out more ways to keep students safe and comfortable in the classroom.
Sarah Minkewicz is a journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.