Toronto vigil held for victims of Buffalo mass shooting

A vigil was held in downtown Toronto Thursday evening to remember the victims of a mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket and to denounce anti-Black racism.

People gathered at Nathan Phillips Square and listened to speeches, a song and a poem as they paid tribute to the 10 people who were shot and killed by an 18-year-old gunman at Tops Friendly Market on Saturday.

Ten-year-old Brayden John was one of those who attended the vigil. He said the United States of America needs to change its rules, especially on guns.

"It is so important to be here tonight because I remember my dad -- I walked into my dad's room and he was watching CNN. And I just saw that 10 Black people died in Buffalo. And so I was really mad," John said.

"And me and my dad were talking. And we were saying how mad we are about this because this is an 18-year-old kid. What did he have against Black people?"

John shared that he has experienced hate in school, but fortunately, he said, he has friends who care about him.

"We all watch out for each other and make sure nobody has hate on us," he said. "We all have to care for everyone."

More than 21 community groups from across the Greater Toronto Area took part in the vigil and members of the public were invited to come and express solidarity with the families, friends and Black communities who are grieving the victims.

Mayor John Tory, Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson and Toronto MP Marci Ien were among those who spoke at the vigil and condemned anti-Black racism.

Tory said he reached out to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown to express Toronto's support.

"I wanted to reach out right away, which I did to say to him that we stand in solidarity with you. We stand in solidarity against anti-Black racism, against this kind of terrible act of violence," Tory said.

Ontario's poet laureate Randell Adjei also read a poem at the vigil.

A moment of silence was also observed as the names of the victims were read.

Authorities in the U.S. have said the gunman researched the demographics of the community beforehand and intentionally targeted Black people in the shooting, which he live-streamed.

The 18-year-old suspect made a court appearance Thursday morning, where he was indicted on a first-degree murder charge.

The killings sent shock and anger through Black communities in the U.S. as well as in Canada and have sparked renewed calls for more to be done to combat racism and hatred.

"It's really important that the community has space to grieve, space to recognize that 10 people lost their lives just simply for being Black," organizer Alica Hall told CP24 Thursday morning. "And we're gathering at Nathan Phillips Square and we're inviting Torontonians to really send a strong message that hate has no place in our community.

"I think it's really easy for us as Canadians, you know, to think that we are complacent, that this doesn't happen in our city, in our country. Unfortunately, that's not the reality. We know there's a growing culture of hate that's spreading online and infiltrating our communities."

In a news release, the groups organizing the vigil called on all three levels of government to do more to support Black communities and to combat anti-Black racism.

"This atrocity is simply the most recent in a long history of unrelenting and consistent brutality against Black communities across North America rooted in anti-Black hate," the groups wrote.

"This latest attack reminds us that anti-Black hate, white supremacy, replacement theory and far-right extremism continue to make even the most basic activities unsafe for Black people, such as shopping for Sunday dinner."