HAVERSTRAW — Nicole Hines, president of the Nyack branch of the NAACP, stood in front of about 200 people gathered at Bowline Point Park and looked out.

“Ten fools – 10, 10, 10, 10, 10 – Black bodies. Ten.” His words were hanging in the air. Birds were chirping in the distance. Someone started crying.

“We’re hurt,” Hines said after a break. “We are tired. We are angry.”

She spoke after a string of religious leaders, community activists and a few politicians at Monday night’s community vigil to mourn and honor the May 14 mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket that served a predominantly black neighborhood. The vigil was co-sponsored by the Nyack NAACP and the Center For Safety & Change.

Several speakers said such horror could happen anywhere. Hines added, “It could have been here. Here. In our own county. We have white supremacy. We have racism.”

Hines told a series of racist incidents between students from Pearl River Schools targeting Nyack students, including one during a modified level track event on May 17. According to reports, the “n-word” was used by a Pearl River team member against a Nyack competitor during a multi-school tournament at Suffern Middle School.

“There were words,” Hines said. “Words could lead to this if we do nothing.”

Look no further than Buffalo, she says. “He finished his manifesto at 17,” she said of the accused shooter.

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Like other speakers, Hines urged that people “don’t just come here and listen. Go do something.”

Speakers called on the crowd to challenge the comments when they hear them in public or at home; calling on politicians and school leaders demanding action; sign a petition asking the New York State Public High School Athletic Association to suspend Pearl River School District teams from competing in Division 1 sports.

“Call it what you see it,” Hines said. “Racism and white supremacy are there.”

Pastor Greg Merriweather of Calvary Baptist Church in Haverstraw, who hosted the rally, told the crowd: “Justice is all our business.

Imam Syed Ali of the Masjid Darul Ehsan mosque in Suffern said that like a smoldering ember left to linger and rekindle a fire, the hatred of the 18-year-old accused killer did not arise spontaneously. “Something excited him.”

Firefighters watch for smoldering embers at the scene of a large fire, he said. “We’re not doing enough,” Ali said, adding that everyone must watch and fight “the smoldering heat of hatred.”

Airmont's Adrienne Woilf and her 12-year-old son Joshua were among those attending a vigil honoring those killed in the Buffalo supermarket shooting.  The vigil, titled

Pastor Everett Newtown named “those lives that were lynched”, reading Buffalo’s 10 murder victims:

They were, said Rockland County Legislator Toney Earl, “carried away for the color of their skin without regard to the content of their character.”

Nancy Cutler writes at People & Policy. Click here for his latest stories. Follow her on Twitter at @nancyrockland.

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