Tuesday evening, a group of students gathered at the East Campus bridge equipped with paint and brushes. Their goal? To recognize the anti-Semitic shooting in Pittsburgh and leave a message of love on campus.
The Saturday morning shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh left 11 worshippers dead. The prosecutor plans to seek the death penalty for the gunman, who was arrested after the attack and made his first appearance in court Monday, according to reports.
The students, largely members of the Jewish community on campus, first covered the wall in white paint before adding the Pittsburgh Steelers logo alongside the Star of David—an image that has been circulating on social media in the wake of the shooting.
"I just think it's an important moment to come together to share a message of love in an important time," sophomore Perry Wallack said as the group waited for the layer of white paint to dry.
At Duke, President Vincent Price issued a statement in response to the shooting Sunday morning.
"The terrible mass murder in Pittsburgh—a senseless and heinous attack on Jewish men, women and children in a house of worship—leaves us all horrified," Price wrote in the email to the Duke community.
Additionally, Greg Jones—dean of the Divinity School—issued a statement in response, and the Muslim Student Association published a response on Facebook.
"We are grieved, and we are also outraged by this horrifying act of violence—especially in a place presumed to be both sacred and a place of safety. We also protest the continuing evil of anti-Semitism, and we call on all people to renounce and repent of hatred in any form," Jones wrote. "We long for the day when there will be no more violence, no more killing."
Senior Grant Besner, who is also an opinion columnist for The Chronicle, explained that the idea for the mural came out of a large group chat of Jewish students, and that he decided to start the ball rolling on it by buying the paint and making a Facebook event to coordinate the painting.
There's a "beautiful silver lining" in every tragedy, Besner said, because it reminds people of the things that really matter. He added that it serves as an opportunity to recognize and stand with other marginalized groups, and noted that two African-American people were shot and killed during the weekend as well.
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"It affects so many different identities, and I think that, being Jews, we don't always feel marginalized because we are incredibly white-passing and we benefit from a lot of wealth, honestly, and other privileges that we have," Besner said. "We are using this time to stand in solidarity with anyone who is oppressed or marginalized or affected by gun violence."
The final mural was the Steelers' adapted logo, the phrase "We must build this world from love" in English and Hebrew and the names of the 11 victims written in black.
"This is a symbol of pressing on and having our voices heard," Wallack said.