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Jubilee Initiative Hosts Vigil to Honor Florida Shooting Victims

Lileana Pearson / WAER NEWS

A group of Syracuse residents are saying thoughts and prayers are not enough in the wake of last week’s Florida school shooting. Instead, they are getting out into the community to discover what they can do to help.

This past Saturday, a group of peace activists called the Jubilee Initiative hosted a vigil in honor of those affected by the Florida school shooting.  Several Syracuse residents gathered at Willow Bay on Onondaga Lake to pay their respects to those whose lives were lost, but more importantly, to start a conversation about safety in schools.

Among the attendees who spoke on the matter was Tim Hart, a board member of the Jubilee Initiative and a retired teacher.

“The Second Amendment is fine as far as everybody having weapons, but we don’t need these ridiculous assault weapons that can kill dozens or hundreds of people given the given situation, the right situation. That’s just ridiculous.”

Credit Lileana Pearson / WAER NEWS
A vigil attendee displays an R for "respect."

He wasn’t the only one to speak up on stricter gun laws. Betsy Kuney, a Syracuse resident, said protecting children from trauma should be a top priority.

“I think the availability of automatic weapons has proven to be detrimental to our society. Tremendously. It’s not only the number of deaths, but it’s the trauma it’s done in our communities.

Hart also said that as a retired teacher, he has seen firsthand a lack of counselors in schools where students can receive help for mental health.

“The guidance counselors, 90% of their time, they’re working with test evaluations and things like that and qualifying kids to be handicapped to get this assistance or that. They don’t have the time to reach out to those kids that need that, the help, the counseling. So, we could certainly double, triple, quadruple the number of guidance counselors in schools.”

Credit Lileana Pearson / WAER NEWS
A vigil attendee said incidents like this are telling us to "take action, be kinder, and reach out."

Retired school teacher Janice Carr had a different perspective on how to prevent violence in schools. She said encouraging students to live social lives helps them connect with their peers.

“We have to look at all the things around us that have changed in the last ten years, and I would have to say a lot of it has to do with technology and people being more isolated through technology and with the computers and their phones and not interacting as much with other people.  It’s just very isolating.”

The Jubilee Initiative holds events and vigils throughout the year. You can learn more about them and their mission at