Central New York, Crime, Public Safety, Syracuse

Syracuse Responds to the Pittsburgh Tragedy

Heartfelt message written in chalk covers ground at Syracuse University (c) 2018 Tim Collins

By Tim Collins Syracuse, N.Y.  (NCC News)  Less than a week since the tragic shooting at a the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, cities around the country are still mourning the deaths of the victims.

Robert Bowers, the man suspected of opening fire in the synagogue, killing 11 people and injuring six others on Saturday morning, has been charged with 44 counts including hate crimes. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.  Meanwhile, people around the country, including here in Central New York, have paid their respects to the victims in numerous ways.

“We, of course, hosted a community vigil, which was a powerful expression of support,” said Brian Konkol, the Dean of Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University. “Seeing the campus community come together to remind each other and to remind the world that light can overcome the darkness.”

While tragic acts of violence can push groups of people apart, when the time comes to grieve for the lives lost, those acts can also bring people together.

“It breaks our hearts, it forces us to look at ourselves, and it causes us to put our arms around each other to not just be united in our grief, but to be united in our response,”  Konkol said.

The desire to respond was also felt by members of the Winnick Hillel Center for Jewish Life in Syracuse, who left encouraging messages on Syracuse University’s quad written in chalk. For many, leaving the messages was a way to take a stand against the violence.

“We’re not going to be scared by this,” said Alexis Whellan, the President of Hillel. “We’re not going to let it define us. We’re defined by messages of hope and we’re defined by inclusiveness. By chalking the quad we’re not only giving this message of hope to other Jewish students, but also a message of solidarity to other groups that are affected by this type of violence and hate.”

While people all over the world continue to mourn after the attack, some of the services of the victims have taken place this week.