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Community rallies around planned anti-violence hub destroyed by arson

Thomas O'Neil-White

Community leaders on Friday rallied around the site where a suspected arsonist burned down a house on Kilhoffer Street on Buffalo’s East Side.

The house was to be used as a hub for the Buffalo Peacemakers and the Stop the Violence Coalition. Damage to the house was estimated at $80,000. It was demolished Wednesday.

Peacemakers Executive Director Murray Holman said despite the unforeseen and costly setback, his group is pushing forward.

“You can smell the smoke still,” Holman said. “It’s in your lungs, it's letting you know that this is real. But we know we can save this community. We’re here to do a job.”

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White
Buffalo Peacemakers Executive Director Murray Holman.

Holman said with continued community involvement the headquarters for the two anti-violence groups will be built.

“We need the community to come out and pour into this vision,” he said. “Just because the building is knocked down, it doesn’t mean the ground is not solid enough for us to do what we need to do.”

State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said the neighborhood will not be intimidated.

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White
State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

“They could create havoc,” Peoples-Stokes said. “They could create problems. But some things, they’re not going to be able to stop. This is one of them.”

Peoples-Stokes said the Fillmore District is a supportive community and the person or persons who committed the arson are in need of support. She said they need to reach out to someone to get better.

Leadership from the Peacemakers and Stop the Violence Coalition said they may create a GoFundMe page in order to speed up the rebuilding process.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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