‘The question is, when is Aurora?’ Rally at City Hall in response to mass shooting in Buffalo

A group of Aurora residents gathered outside City Hall in response to the mass shooting of black people in Buffalo, NY
  • Phiona Durrant, president of the Aurora Black Community Association, addresses the crowd during a rally at City Hall after the mass shooting of black people in Buffalo, NY

Phiona Durrant becomes emotional as she addresses a crowd gathered outside Aurora Town Hall.

The local resident and president of the Aurora Black Community Association spoke at a May 19 rally held in response to the May 14 mass shooting in Buffalo, NY, where a gunman targeted black people.

“The work required for equity, diversity and inclusion around equality and to protect our community from racism is ongoing,” Durrant said.

Durrant said it was important for city leaders to take positive action beyond raising a pan-African flag at city hall. “We wanted to stand here at our government office because it’s a centralized place where decisions and policies are made where support may or may not be given,” Durrant said.

It is important that leaders act before atrocities happen rather than after. “Why are we always reacting instead of having an ongoing strategy? That’s why we’re here today, to bring that awareness,” she said.

She plans to run for mayor every month to raise awareness of the issues. “Just showing up to say, ‘OK, since we’re still waiting for someone to die, I’m going to keep showing up. So that’s what we’re doing here. Just showing up to let them know that these things are important and that we shouldn’t keep waiting for another person to die. I don’t care if they’re white, pink, black, no one should have to be murdered out of hate,” Durrant said.

Highlighting the number of shootings in Aurora this year, she said shootings are a problem even near her home. “At least seven have happened in Aurora in 2022. The guns and the violence are here,” she said. “The question is, when is it Aurora?”

Aurora Black Community Association board member Shruti Kalyanaraman said she came to the rally to support the black community. “I’m here today because I’m a person of color myself, but this is about the black community. It’s about black families in Ontario, in Aurora. I just want them to know I’m here. I come from a different culture, but I’m here for you,” she said.

Kalyanaraman said she wanted to support in any way possible, as she is a member of the Aurora community. “Anything that affects them affects me too. I am a safe person for them,” she said.

Kalyanaraman wants to give back to a community that supported her as a newcomer. “Phiona did a lot for me as a newcomer, when I was a newcomer to Aurora,” Kalyanaraman said. “She does a lot for non-black people of color and that’s why I’m here today.”

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Journalist Laura Broadley wanted to know why Aurora resident Phiona Durant held a rally at City Hall in response to the mass murder in Buffalo.

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