After Buffalo, NY: Reimagine
What’s Possible: No Hate in Our States
By Myra Clark-Siegel, Director, AJC Westchester/Fairfield
In the aftermath of the horrific, racist mass-shooting attack in Buffalo, NY, we are featuring Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown in “AJC: No Hate in Our States”.
Mayor Brown was featured in AJC’s Community of Conscience segment during its Global Forum. Mayor Brown spoke about hatred, racism, antisemitism, and the power of communities joining together. This interview is edited – the full segment and information about combating hate can be found at: www.ajc.org.
Q: Mayor Brown, we stand united with Buffalo after this horrific attack. Please tell us your experience with encountering hatred. What happened?
A: Buffalo, NY, Mayor Byron Brown: May 14th was a warm, sunny day in Buffalo. Children were riding bicycles, people were shopping in stores. I was at the first T-ball game for my great-niece and nephew. Then, I got a call from the police commissioner that there had been a shooting.
They knew that people had been killed and a suspect was in custody. I rushed to the police command post at the Tops supermarket…13 people had been shot, and 10 were deceased. It was a shock to the system.
Law enforcement pieced things together quickly and determined that the shooter traveled to Buffalo from 3-1/2 hours away to kill as many Black people as possible. This was somebody that had white supremacist ideology. They believe he had been radicalized on social media.
Q: What are the main lessons/takeaways that you want others to know?
A: Mayor Brown: There has been shock, anger, pain, grief. The community is sticking together, trying to hold each other up and heal.
I want to thank the American Jewish Committee (AJC). We received a letter of support from AJC within hours of the horrific attack, and your support means a lot to us.
We are a strong community, a resilient community. We’re known nationally and internationally as “the City of Good Neighbors”. We are working together as a community to get through this very painful situation.
The lessons are that we have to be vigilant at all times. We have to be watchful. We have to pay attention. When we see hate, we have to speak out against it.
Q: Please comment on the importance of working with others in the fight against hate and all types of bigotry. Why is this necessary?
A: Mayor Brown: There are all types of forms of hatred. We know that this individual, via the manifesto they wrote, hated Black people. They hated Jewish people. They hated immigrants, and new Americans. This person was filled with hate.
The hate wasn’t exclusive to anyone. Hatred toward one group of people is hatred toward all of us. We are stronger when we stand together. We can fight hate more effectively when we work together.
That’s what we have to do now. We have to work together to prevent people from being radicalized in the ways of hate on social media.
Q: What is your message to those who fear the rising tide of hatred in the United States and want to make a difference/fight back?
A: Mayor Brown: We must speak up. We must speak out. There are many different ways to help. We can express our love for others in social media, in our workplaces, in our classrooms, in our homes.
We can donate to organizations that work against hatred and that try to prevent hate from taking root. There are many things that we can do.
Everyone can do something. Collectively, coming together, sharing our experiences, our backgrounds, our strategies, to eliminate hate make us more effective in working against hate in our communities.
I want to thank the American Jewish Committee [AJC] for your work and tireless advocacy against hate in all its forms. We have a shared commitment to fight against hate.
Myra Clark-Siegel is AJC Westchester/Fairfield regional director. To join our efforts: firstname.lastname@example.org.