Vigil reflects on Texas, New York mass shootings while remembering victims

May 27, 2022, 11:08 AM | Updated: 11:37 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Together they claimed 31 lives and devastated many others. Mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas  broadly evoked feelings of sadness, anger, frustration and helplessness.

On Thursday night, a small group of academics, activists and others gathered at the Peace and Justice Garden at Salt Lake Community College to reflect on the events and what contributed to them while remembering those whose lives were lost.

“What motivated me to take part in this is just the community healing,” said Brock Smith of the group, Save the Kids from Incarceration.

Speakers addressed the issues of racism, oppression, domestic violence, gun violence and mental health and their potential roles in mass killings.

“We can make mental health more accessible to marginalized communities, to really everyone,” Smith said. “Too often we catch these things on the back end and that’s when we send in counselors and everything like that, when ultimately we should have access to mental healthcare all along. Mass shootings are just the outlier of the situation. On that same continuum, we have substance abuse, we have incarceration, we have homelessness, we have domestic violence, we have all these things that are actively happening because of unchecked mental health.”

Kati Lewis, an associate professor of English and the director of the Community Writing Center at SLCC offered a differing viewpoint on the mental health matter.

“People with mental illnesses are far more likely to be the victims of violence than they are the perpetrators of violence,” she said. “We need to demystify mental illness and we also need to protect those experiencing mental health crises instead of demonizing them or throwing that out as an excuse for why gun violence happens in this country instead of actually tackling what’s causing gun violence in this country.”

She argued ease of access to guns played a significant role and also pointed to a lack of accountability on policymakers for inaction on the gun violence issue.

“Gun violence is a very uniquely American experience,” Lewis said. “Domestic violence makes up a huge portion of the percentage of gun violence in this country. Suicides make up a huge portion of the percentage of gun violence in this country. We need to also be tackling that along with the mass shootings. Why do these things happen?”

Some speakers addressed the need for healing after the shootings.

“I can’t take the pain away—there’s no way that losing your child can be without any suffering,” one woman said. “I can only help them heal from here.”

The group read off the names of the shooting victims while placing flags and flowers in the garden to remember those who were killed.

“People need to come together and know that we have each other and that we can stand in solidarity,” Smith said. “Even if these actions happened across the United States, people in Salt Lake City care.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

The crowd gathering at Washington Square to march to the Utah Capitol....
Brittany Tait

Crowd marched to Utah State Capitol in solidary with Iran

A large crowd marched from Washington Square to the steps of the Utah State Capitol on Saturday to show solidarity for those suffering in Iran.
1 day ago
Attendees at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Conference Center....
Michael Houck & Ladd Egan

Day One of 192nd Semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Tens of thousands gathered in downtown Salt Lake City Saturday for the 192nd Semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
1 day ago
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints volunteers help clean up and repair the aftermath of Hurricane Ia...
Mike Anderson

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members help clean up the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

"As horrible as natural disasters are, you see the best of humanity," Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members gather in Florida to help clean up the mess Hurricane Ian left behind.
1 day ago
Denali Stubbs, preparing his bike for the upcoming race....
Alex Cabrero

Hildale high school bike team participates in regional race

"I just want to do the same for these kids:” a Hillside parent hopes to encourage teens in his community to dream bigger by getting involved in sports.
1 day ago
Authorities responding to the fatal rollover crash. (UDOT)...
Michael Houck

Two dead after pickup truck crashes into ravine near I-215

Authorities are investigating a rollover crash that killed two of its occupants on I-215 near 1000 South Saturday afternoon. 
1 day ago
President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the Saturday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual Gene...
Josh Ellis

President Nelson addresses using chair during conference talk

President Russell M. Nelson took to social media after Latter-day Saints noticed he used a chair to deliver his remarks during the Saturday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
Vigil reflects on Texas, New York mass shootings while remembering victims