Members of Kent State community reflect on Buffalo shooting

Kennedy Gotham, Reporter

Nearly 100 students, faculty and staff attended a virtual town hall meeting Monday to reflect, discuss and digest the May 14 shooting in Buffalo, New York.

The suspected gunman killed 10 and injured three at a Tops supermarket. Police said the shooting was a “straight-up racially motivated hate crime” and that the suspect had planned to continue shooting people if he had not been caught.

In response to the shooting, Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion decided to hold an online meeting to open up a safe space and dialogue for members of the university community.

“I know that as we spend a little bit of time conversing with each other, we are all feeling very different things based on the unfolding of events in Buffalo,” said Amoaba Gooden, vice president for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Participants were then able to share their personal experiences, feelings and thoughts.

“I apologize if I say something I shouldn’t say, but right now I am really angry,” said Patrick Gallagher, an associate professor of Spanish. “As people try to help each other through this and perhaps figure out a way to think of ourselves as an activist university, … I think that we have to turn to activism on any number of fronts.”

Gallagher said if he were president of the university, “I would think, ‘What can we do to respond to this as a university, to try to lead?’ … I feel like as a university, one thing that we can do as an activist university is say, ‘All students who come to Kent State will take a course on critical race theory’ or something like that.”

Numerous attendees shared that they have ties to Buffalo, whether through a connection to family, friends or a university, including Kent State University President Todd Diacon, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Conduct Todd Kamenash and the director of the Office of Diversity Outreach and Development, Daniel Diaz Nilsson.

“My alma mater is in Buffalo,” Kamenash said. Following the shooting, he said he immediately reached out to friends and family who live in Buffalo.

“When I first caught wind of this tragic incident, I quickly went back to a lot of things that happened …in previous years with the unfortunate killings and things of that nature,” said Frank Porter Jr., director of athletics diversity outreach and professional impact. “It was kind of like, here we go again, hearing the language that was used, that was written, essentially premeditated before the action took place, these different types of websites that are called the dark web where there is obviously hundreds of thousands upon people obviously who feel this certain type of way towards different races, colors things of that nature, genders, and all that.”

Porter said he was not surprised by the shooting and was glad they had a meeting to take action and provide educational opportunities.

“It’s weird to feel hunted,” said Randale Richmond, director of athletics. “To know that without any merit, there is someone who hates you to such depths that they are willing to enact such pain … regardless of age, history, background, and what it causes thereafter.”

Many of the people who shared their thoughts said they were “numb” after hearing about the shooting.

Gooden encouraged people to find community and talk openly about their feelings toward the shooting and how it has affected them.

“It’s a really important time for us to check in on each other,” Gooden said.

Kennedy Gotham is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].