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Hundreds Show Support, Unity for New Zealand Shooting Victims at SU Vigil

Aviana Goode/WAER News

Many students, families, and friends gathered outside the steps of  Syracuse University's Hendricks ChapelTuesday in honor of the victims of the tragic shooting that happened over the weekend in New Zealand. Hendricks Chapel Dean The Rev Brian Konkol greeted the audience with a powerful statement about not allowing fear to win.

“We gather for this vigil and in doing so we choose to intentionally remember.  With sadness, with anger, and with solidarity, we remember that tonight we make a choice.  We make a choice to remember to affirm that we belong to each other.”

Credit Aviana Goode/WAER News
Vigil for New Zealand shooting victims drew diverse crowd Tuesday

Konkol added the solidarity was regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religious affirmation, ethnicity or disability.  He urged people to live more consciously and more fully to honor those whose lives were cut short.

Hamza Hamid is with the Muslim Student Association and wanted to show support for those who passed away and their families.

“Show people that even after that horrendous act we are not going to sit back.  Show our support for people of different faiths, different backgrounds.  I told my friends about this and everyone, (wanted) to come out together and show that we are as one.”

He adds there’s been so many shootings, unfortunately it’s beginning to feel normal.  Though Hamid admits when going to Friday prayers on the day after the shootings, he had the thought, “what if someone comes up behind me?”

Credit Aviana Goode/WAER News
New Zealand Shooting victims vigil at SU

This tragedy is not going to make people step down, they instead pledged to unite and fight together through this rough time.  Ayeh Hajjari, another student, says she isn’t reacting with fear after hearing about the New Zealand and other shootings. 

“I feel more emboldened than I feel threatened.  I feel that my identity cannot be taken away, can’t be stripped away, and it makes me more Muslim, in a sense.”

A hate crime is not something that should be taken lightly and she feels like more action needs to take place when it comes to gun control laws.  Hajjari adds people need to view racism as more than just bigotry, but something more serious in society. 

Credit Aviana Goode/WAER News
Organizers say they had 200 candles for the vigil crowd ... and ran out.

An estimated 200 people joined the vigil, holding candles to show their support. 

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.