For Immediate Release
May 16, 2022
BUFFALO, NY – LIVE FREE, Life Camp and several members of the Black and Brown Peace Consortium again expressed condolences to victims and their families who were killed or impacted by the white supremacist domestic terrorist attack at an upstate New York grocery store. The groups decried the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, that left 10 people – all Black – dead and three people wounded. In a virtual space, leaders from the organizations vowed to marshal mental health, food and physical resources to members of the Buffalo community.
“To show up at my neighborhood grocery store and see my neighbors victimized by this racial terror is devastating,” said the Rev. Denise Walden, executive director of Voice Buffalo, the local chapter of LIVE FREE. “My son’s best friend lost his father yesterday. Adding to the pain is that families have yet to see their loved ones who were killed. I am with families who are still trying to identify their loved ones who are among the slain. God help us.”
Voice Buffalo delivered death notifications to the persons impacted by the massacre until 11:00 p.m. Saturday night.
Life Camp, LIVE FREE and Voice Buffalo held a 9:30 a.m. vigil on Sunday. Life Camp also plans to bring its peace mobile to Buffalo to provide on-the-ground trauma assistance. Additionally, the organizations held a virtual space where more than 50 organizers and clergy with Voice Buffalo, LIVE FREE and Life Camp lamented together on Sunday night. They will hold a second virtual space on Monday, May 16 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Registration is required: bit.ly/standwithbuffalo2.
“After such a traumatic event, we are wondering how to shift back into normal life tomorrow, and I don’t have clear answers. I am trying to hold the people that I love close and be there for them. We need prayers and culturally competent support,” Rev. Walden said.
“This is very overwhelming,” said Tyrell Ford, a LIVE FREE organizer with Voice Buffalo. “We are in a state of shock and panic. The community is mourning.”
The shooting comes at a time of increasing mass shootings. As of April 2022, there were already 140 mass shootings in the United States. “This latest crisis comes amid Mental Health Awareness month, and the significance of that is there is a shortage of Black and Brown and culturally competent mental health professionals in Buffalo,” said Rana Ryan, a licensed certified clinical psychotherapist with Life Camp and a Buffalo resident. “Even before this tragedy, there was a dearth of resources to help Black people in Buffalo process grief and trauma. Now, the situation is likely to get worse.”
“What is most troubling about this situation is that this community was already under-resourced,” Ryan said. “The grief and healing work that will be required is massive.”
Part of a Larger Problem
“The Black and Brown Peace Consortium has worked for years to address gun violence in Black and Brown communities across the country,” said the Rev. Michael McBride, executive director of LIVE FREE. “That another instance of white racial terror has been introduced to an already traumatized and under-resourced community is as appalling as it is frightening.”
LIVE FREE and other members of the Black and Brown Peace Consortium have been active in Buffalo for years. LIVE FREE held a Justice & Belonging Lab in the city on May 6 to offer strategies for ending gun violence and promoting stronger communities. “We had no idea that one week after our Justice & Belonging event our community would be once again mourning, this time due to white racial terror,” McBride said.
“As we have spoken to elected officials at the state and federal level, we have been clear that we must get resources to the ground to help people heal,” said Erica Ford, executive director of Life Camp. “We also must ensure that we do not enforce the message that it is OK to attack Black people.”
LIVE FREE organizes communities directly impacted by gun violence and mass incarceration to build the necessary power and influence at the local, state and federal levels to ensure that these solutions are being implemented.
Life Camp is a frontline gun violence prevention and intervention team making our communities.