Town Hall and Reflections on Gun Violence


Shirley Xu

In the Town Hall, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Justice Mr. David Thompson encouraged attendants to write post-it note responses to posters he had scattered across the room.

On Wednesday, May 18th, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice Mr. David Thompson hosted a Town Hall for Bishop’s students “in light of recent gun violence in our country,” according to a school-wide email Mr. Thompson sent out on May 17, referring to two mass shootings that had occurred the weekend prior. 


The first occurred in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 and injuring 3. 11 victims were African American, and President Joe Biden called the incident “violence inflicted in the service of hate.” The shooter streamed the attack in real time on Twitch, a popular streaming platform, although the video has since been taken down. 


The second shooting was in a Taiwanese-American Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, CA, killing 1 and injuring 5. Authorities have deemed the Laguna Woods shooting as motivated by “political tensions involving China and Taiwan.” The gunman, who was Chinese, has also been described by authorities to have expressed hatred for Taiwan. 


One week after the Town Hall, in light of the May 24, 2022, shooting at Robb Elementary School, in Uvalde, Texas, BARC (the Bishop’s Anti-Racist Collective) hosted a moment to reflect on May 24, 2022. The Uvalde shooting has killed at least 19 students, ranging in ages 7-10, and 2 adults. 


“The hope for this town hall is to offer a space to process, listen to others, discuss and ask questions about these incidents,” Mr. Thompson stated in the all-school email. In the meeting, which was hosted during Upper School lunch in the Manchester Board Room, Mr. Thompson began by reading aloud the respectful dialogue practices, and invited attendees to walk around the room, where there were various posters with different prompts, such as “What seems unknown or unconfirmed about the events this weekend?” or “What emotions do these events raise for you?” Mr. Thompson encouraged the students and faculty to take post-it notes, which he had also scattered across the room, and write down their thoughts on the prompts provided. 


On one poster, the prompt asked attendees what information they had already heard about the shootings. Two post-it notes mentioned how the shooters had previously expressed racial hatred, “even publicly on social media,” and how “social media had been used to broadcast the attack.” Two other post-its were dedicated to the victims of the shooting, and brought up how the victims in Buffalo were family members, and beloved people to their communities. They also mentioned the doctor in the Laguna Woods shooting, who had “lost his life, sacrificing himself to confront the perpetrator” and “protect his elders.”  


Another poster asked, “What seems unknown or unconfirmed about the events?” Attendees responded and posed questions such as, “Were warning signs [of the shootings] overlooked?” and “How do we stop them from being overlooked in the future?” 


On another poster, the prompt encouraged people to share what they still wondered about the shootings. One post-it note asked, “Why are we so numb to all of it? Why is it so acceptable to lose this much life? Why do we, as a country, continuously allow events like these to happen?” Another wondered, “If there had been restricted gun laws, would it prevent the shooters from taking other action?” Other post-its questioned what role hate crimes had in the Buffalo and Laguna Woods shooting—“Why hasn’t there been more coverage about the Laguna shooting?” wondered one attendee. “How do the issues of ethnicity complicate the narrative? What are we, as the people of the United States, supposed to do to respond to such shootings?”


When asked what emotions the events raised for them, attendees responded with a mix of emotions: fear, frustration, sadness, shock, disgust, and confusion. “Fear for our country and community, fear that further shootings will occur, fear they will never stop,” read one note. “Scared that me or someone I know will be the next victim,” said another. One other commenter was not sure how to react. “We see events like this all the time,” they said, in which another attendee replied, “The fact that you are accustomed to these events raises concern for the increased prominence of shootings. Will it become something of the usual or can they change?” Yet another attendee described the Laguna Woods shooting was “too close to home. This could happen here. It’s not distant.”