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Rochester civic and faith leaders praise unity in the wake of a mass shooting in Buffalo, but also call for action

Rev. Jonathan McReynolds of the Aenon Missionary Baptist Church in Rochester
City of Rochester
Rev. Jonathan McReynolds of the Aenon Missionary Baptist Church in Rochester

Local political and other civic leaders along with members of the faith community gathered Thursday night for a vigil at the Aenon Missionary Baptist Church on Rochester’s southwest side.

The goal of the event, called, 'We Stand with Buffalo,' was to show solidarity with the people in Buffalo impacted by last weekend’s mass shooting.

“The unity that’s in this city, that we can overcome this moment,” the church’s senior pastor, Reverend Jonathan McReynolds told those assembled for the vigil, including political leaders like Mayor Malik Evans, County Executive Adam Bello, County Legislature President Sabrina LaMar, along with various faith leaders, members of law enforcement and others from the Rochester community.

McReynolds was among the faith leaders who called not only for prayer but for action, in the wake of the attack that killed 10 people and injured 3 others at a Tops market. Almost all of them were Black and the 18-year-old man accused of their murders is white, in what has been labeled a racially-motivated hate crime.

Evans was appreciative of the cross-section of people showing up for Thursday night’s vigil.

“It means so much to me to have so many people here from the Rochester community and the folks online that are watching that came together in such a short period of time to say that hate will never prevail, love will always win,” said Evans. “But in order for us also to remember love, let’s not also forget that we’re also demanding justice.”

LaMar said the man charged in the attack had a goal, which was to incite more hate-filled violence.

“Instead, what has happened, is the opposite,” LaMar said. “In the days that have followed, I’ve witnessed our cities, our counties, our communities and the entire country come together for good, and to reject the idea that influenced this attack.”

Rabbi Michael Silbert of Temple Beth David in Brighton was among those at the vigil calling not only for prayer, but also for changes in society to try and prevent this kind of violence from happening again.

“In an environment where it’s easier and cheaper to get a semi-automatic assault weapon than to feel a prescription at a pharmacy, it’s not going to stop.”

The vigil on Thursday followed one on Tuesday outside a Tops supermarket on West Avenue in Rochester, where people also gathered in support of those impacted by Buffalo’s mass shooting.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.