Thank You Thursdays: Woman prevents mass shooting at elementary school

Antoinette Tuff - smiling, wearing glasses

© Every Joe/Antoinette Tuff via PolicyMic

On Tuesday, a heavily armed gunman entered an Atlanta-area elementary school, but miraculously no one was hurt. We have Antoinette Tuff to thank for that. A clerk at the school, she spent an hour talking to the young man, who eventually put down his guns and surrendered:

“I just started praying for him,” Antoinette Tuff . “I just started talking to him … and let him know what was going on with me and that it would be OK. And then [I] let him know that he could just give himself up. … I told him to put [the guns] on the table, empty his pockets. He had me actually get on the intercom and tell everybody he was sorry, too. But I told them, ‘He was sorry, but do not come out of their rooms.’ … I give it all to God, I’m not the hero. I was terrified.”

The fact that Tuff was able to talk and listen the way she did through her terror and show that young man that she saw his pain is nothing short of incredible. I’m also sitting with the fact that the would-be mass shooter is, as per usual, a young white man in a world that presumes people who look like him innocent, while people of color are presumed suspect.

Thank you, Antoinette Tuff, and to those who heal pain and who listen. There aren’t enough of you out there.

New York, NY

Verónica Bayetti Flores has spent the last years of her life living and breathing reproductive justice. She has led national policy and movement building work on the intersections of immigrants' rights, health care access, young parenthood, and LGBTQ liberation, and has worked to increase access to contraception and abortion, fought for paid sick leave, and demanded access to safe public space for queer youth of color. In 2008 Verónica obtained her Master’s degree in the Sexuality and Health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She loves cooking, making art, listening to music, and thinking about the ways art forms traditionally seen as feminine are valued and devalued. In addition to writing for Feministing, she is currently spending most of her time doing policy work to reduce the harms of LGBTQ youth of color's interactions with the police and making sure abortion care is accessible to all regardless of their income.

Verónica is a queer immigrant writer, activist, and rabble-rouser.

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