January 19, 2021

Vigils mark grim Covid milestone

By Dan Levy for WNYT

TROY – At Freedom Circle in North Central Troy, there was an alter built by youth in the community to shine a light, not just on the loss of 400,000 lives from Covid-19, but also for those who have died as a result of gun violence, or other social injustices.

“This community is mainly composed of low income and people of color and so this is the community, as are other communities in the Capital Region, who are most impacted by this pandemic,” said Branda Miller, Professor of Media Arts at RPI, and advisor to the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy.

The belief in the Collar City is that at this moment in time, if people could show compassion, if they could feel what it’s like to be in a community that is suffering loss, maybe that sentiment can become the impetus for healing the nation.

“Until you lost somebody, maybe you don’t have that compassion,” Miller suggests, “Until you hear somebody’s story, maybe you don’t understand, but we need to come together as a human family.”

“The only way to really make a difference is to show people and to have people learn about what’s going on around them,” said Shansanique Pollack, a 15-year old community volunteer who helped to build the Freedom Square alter.

On the streets of Troy that encircle Freedom Square, 14-year old Genesis Cooper says gun violence is more concerning to her than the threat posed by Covid-19.

“Where ever you live you should feel safe,” she asserts, “I shouldn’t walk down the street thinking I’m going to get shot by a cop or someone who has a gun that they shouldn’t have.”

Gabby Espada, 14, another community volunteer, says her goal is to bring awareness to as many people as she can.

“Having your voice heard, especially when you’re so young is very important,” Espada states, “So that way I could impact people of my age and around my age and around my school to do the same.”

Meanwhile, outside Niskayuna Town Hall, several dozen gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor the lives of people who were living in their community at the beginning of 2020, but who no longer live there because of Covid-19.

“It’s amazing to think about it really that today is the first time we’ve ever as a nation acknowledged the loss (of 400,000 Covid) lives, the loss of our economy, and to come together. I think it really says a lot about what we expect from this new president.”

Creators of the Troy alter are hoping people stop by on their own time to reflect on the loss of life of so many of their neighbors and friends.

Copyright 2021 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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