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Community healing time from Buffalo’s mass shooting

“This is a chance to see what our community needs"
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Posted at 5:58 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 17:58:20-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — A series of gatherings to help the community continue to recover from Buffalo’s mass shooting is underway.

It’s been nearly three months since ten victims were murdered at the Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo on May 14.

Now survivors and the community can gather together for sessions of hope, healing, and renewal.

Jacqueline Cherry came to the Frank E. Merriweather Library on Jefferson Avenue Wednesday for the first session of healing opportunities. It was open to community members, health care professionals, and first responders.

Cherry serves as the assistant of modern dance at the African American Cultural Center and as a community member. Cherry tells me she needs to heal from the mass shooting.

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Jacqueline Cherry.

“What's really giving you a tough time?” Buckley asked. “Honestly, just having the time and the chance to breathe — taking that moment to really allow myself to heal and just talking about it,” replied Cherry.

Cherry says knowing the gunman had the intention of killing black people at the Jefferson Avenue tops has left her scared. She says even picking up her daughter from school for the first time after the shooting was tough.

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Jacqueline Cherry came to the Frank E. Merriweather Library on Jefferson Avenue for healing event.

“And I didn't want to stand outside. I had to buzz the buzzer and I was shaking because what if somebody drives around and sees my skin color,” reflected Cherry. “This was the first time that experienced actually being scared of my skin color."

“How do you help someone heal from knowing that they were targeted because of their skin color?” Buckley questioned. “It’s a long process. We have to go back. This is going to be through layers of reparation in our history because this is not new. The targeting of someone because of skin color, so again it's about healing. What can be healed in the moment as well as a reflection as well as connecting the dots really the bread crumbs to your soul,” remarked Dr. Carol Penn.

Dr. Penn is with the Center for Mind, Body, Medicine based in Washington, D.C.

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Dr. Carol Penn, Center for Mind, Body.

Penn has traveled around the country to lead healing groups in other cities where mass shootings have occurred. She is among the healers who traveled to Buffalo to provide restoration, renewal, and healing.

“It’s all about self-care. What's happening inside of your heart? What's happening inside of your gut and through the tools we will be using — showing people how they can access that for themselves. It doesn't have to be something that's externally mediated,” explained Dr. Penn.

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Healing session.

“This is just deep. Very hurtful, very much need of healing,” Dr. Penn.

The Western New York Peace Center organized these sessions along with the Jacobs School of Medicine and UB’s school of social work.

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The community continues to visit the site.

The sessions are designed to heal community members and replenish community leaders to continue their work.

The counseling sessions will continue through Saturday, August 6:

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A memorial outside Jefferson Avenue Tops.

  • Wednesday evening from 5 to 6 survivors of the Tops shooting, victims' families, Tops employees, shoppers, and neighbors are welcome at the African American Cultural Center
  • Thursday, August 4, individuals and members of the multiple communities and faith-based groups who have responded to the massacre from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Unity of Buffalo, 1243 Delaware Avenue
  • "Let It Flow" - A workshop combining music, movement, and expressive art. All ages and experience levels are welcome. 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Unity of Buffalo, 1243 Delaware Avenue
  • On Friday and Saturday, August 5th and 6th, the two-day retreat for Black healers/leaders will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Center of Excellence Bioinformatics Life Sciences, 701 Ellicott St, Room B2-209. Children are also welcome

“This is a chance to see what our community needs and then to really lend myself to the process of it,” notes Cherry.