Dear members of our Canisius Community,
The deadly shootings at the Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue have inflicted a heavy, heavy blow on our community. Far from being “senseless,” the killings were sense-filled, with a premeditated malevolence fueled by hate and white supremacy. That the shooter targeted Buffalo and chose to strike on Jefferson Avenue, the spine of our Black community, and at a place that was a point of pride as the only full-service supermarket on the East side, only adds to the horror of the crime.
Canisius University - the western bookend of Jefferson Avenue - opens its arms wide to its friends and neighbors in Hamlin Park, and up and down Jefferson Avenue. On this Fifth Sunday of Easter in the Catholic Church, we read again the Gospel of St. John in which Jesus tells us:
“I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” John 13:34
I worshiped this morning with Rev. Daniel Benning’s congregation at the Upper Room Church of God in Christ at Jefferson and Florida and with Bishop Robert Sanders’ congregation at the Greater Refuge Temple at Jefferson near High. They spoke of the pain and the anger in the community, but also the importance of faith at this dark moment. I will be working with Rev. Benning and other faith leaders in the community in the days ahead on community responses. I also have told Stephanie Barber Geter, the president of the Hamlin Park Community & Taxpayers Association, that the doors of the college are open for any community gathering.
And so, we pray today for those whose lives were lost and for the families and loved ones left behind in grief. We pray for those who witnessed or were otherwise affected by this violence unleashed in our community. Amidst the agony of their suffering, ours must be a message of love. We stand in solidarity with our neighbors committed to love and, then, to binding up the wounds of this community. We stand committed to stamping out hate and violence of every kind, and especially gun violence. As we sing in the Black national anthem:
Facing the rising sun
Of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Very truly yours,
John J. Hurley, President