Members of the University of St. Thomas are condemning racist violence and hate crimes in the aftermath of a shooting Saturday, May 14, that left 10 people dead and three others injured in Buffalo, New York, after a white 18-year-old gunman primarily attacked Black people in a supermarket there. The suspect has been charged with first-degree murder and officials are currently investigating the shooting as a racially motivated hate crime.
The university shared on social media that it is holding the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting, their families and the community in our prayers. "We condemn all acts of racism and violence, and stand in solidarity with anyone marginalized, victimized or made fearful from such acts," according to the post.
The Student Diversity and Inclusion Services division shared on Instagram that "we were left horrified by yet another hate-driven attack." SDIS and DAB - the Diversity Activities Board - are offering space for reflection outside of the SDIS office through Wednesday. "We are all in this together and this is an opportunity to provide solidarity, empathy, and our commitment and understanding in pursuing justice, equality, and peace," they posted.
Dr. Yohuru Williams, founding director of the Racial Justice Initiative at St. Thomas, joined CBC News to discuss the topic. In the interview, he said, "We've seen terrorists, and I think it is appropriate to describe this individual as a terrorist. Targeting people in spaces where they are incredibly vulnerable, at times when they are incredibly vulnerable. This happened in New York City not too long ago in the subway during rush hour. We can talk about the incident in Texas a couple years back." He explains the significance of not only the incident in Buffalo, but also the incidents within the last couple of years that have contributed to the increase of hate crimes within America.
"In North America, with the number of attacks we have seen against communities of color this has become a common occurrence, especially with the proliferation of guns here in the United States," he said. "It is sad that we have another incident like this that we have to mourn."
Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton has called upon the White House to convene a meeting of minority leaders to discuss combating hate crimes. When asked about the potential meeting Dr. Williams said, "I think it's important, but I think we are in a stage now where we have to think beyond these types of conferences. It is an important first step, but the reality is what kind of concrete action can we take?"
Watch the full interview below: