LA-based nonprofit goes to Nashville to support mass shooting victims
A local nonprofit that has made it their mission to honor mass shooting victims is, unfortunately, on the road once again.
Created by Noah Reich and his partner David Maldonado, the Classroom of Compassion carefully crafts altars to memorialize each victim killed.
"We're creating something with the size and magnitude to honor the profound loss of the individual," said Reich.
They were inspired to embark on this endeavor after the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 and crafted their first big memorial for the one-year anniversary of the Route 91 mass shooting in Las Vegas.
"We wanted to start creating a practice as artists, as Americans and as community members that began showing the victims and the many we're losing in these mass shootings over the years," said Reich.
While they've held tight to their roots in Southern California, crafting altars for the victims of the Borderline shooting and Monterey Park shooting, they have also traveled across the United States.
"There have been more than a dozen cities that we have traveled to," said Reich.
Last year, they visited Uvalde, Texas following the deadly shooting that claimed the lives of nearly two dozen people, including children.
Now, less than a year after that school shooting, Reich and Maldonado are once again preparing to travel to another school where a shooter opened fire at children.
"We have hugged so many mothers over the years, who lost a child in one of these acts of violence," said Reich.
On Monday, a shooter entered The Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn. and killed six people, including three children. The children have been identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all 9. The adults were identified as 61-year-old Cynthia Peak, a substitute teacher; 61-year-old Mike Hill, a custodian; and 60-year-old Katherine Koonce, who is listed as head of the school on the school's website.
"One of them is Katherine Koonce," said Reich. "The other altar we're currently working on is for Mike Hill."
Eventually, all of the victims will have special altars dedicated to them. Once the compassionate pair arrives in Nashville they will do what they call "activating the space."
"We bring fresh flowers. We bring candles. We bring chalk. We bring markers. We bring all the items needed to welcome the community to leave their mark and help remember the victims of this tragedy," said Reich.
Reich and Maldonado said they plan to break down the altars, take a red-eye flight to Nashville and stay there through Friday.
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