Statement by Open Buffalo Youth Action:
A couple of weeks have gone by with little trace of Saniyya Dennis, a student at Buffalo State College. It is traumatizing to notice how little this city’s law enforcement cares about its community members, but even worse how SUNY law enforcement is failing her and her family. Open Buffalo’s Youth Action members expresses our full support for Saniyya family, and we are making efforts to raise awareness around protecting and saving our fellow brothers and sisters from harmful narratives and failing systems.
Selena Bulluck, Vice President of the Youth Action team, said, “Saniyya Dennis is an honor roll student at a college in my hometown. To think of how many friends I have that go there and have gone there just makes this all more real to me. She is only 19 years old and has her whole future ahead of her, just spewing with black excellence. To think that she was doing everything by the book to be able to live, just to have so many people fail her. It took days for a search party to even get started, and her family didn’t even have all of the information that they needed, just because the police can’t do their job. I think it’s time for these agencies, the police, and the mayor to step up, not only for Saniyya but for all of the missing children. We need to save our children and bring them home.”
It is unimaginable what Saniyya’s father and family must be feeling, but they are not the only ones this year who have to navigate agencies that aren’t empathetic to their situations. According to WBLK.com, there are 23 girls missing thus far in 2021 (as of April 6).
“Our communities suffer because of the lack of protection we are offered and the amount of disrespect we must deal with,” expressed Jordan Jackson of Youth Action.
It is horrific to think that these systems are meant to protect us, our families, our children, our siblings from harm’s way. Yet, in the times we need them most, they tell us they do not have the capacity to help, or victimize us as if our decisions were already wrong before we made them. The narrative of Black people being negative and the complete disregard for our wellbeing needs to be put to an end. Saniyya needs us all to come together and help find her.
Youth Action member Byron Chavis added, “My heart aches, as she is just in college making her way from her dorms and now there is no trace of her. I ask, why is there no Buffalo State search party being issued? Why is there not a Buffalo State affiliate immediately making a statement?”
We need to prove to her that the community did not fail her, that the city of Buffalo did not fail her, that the people who failed her swore oaths to protect and serve and could not even put forth an effort to do their jobs. SUNY needs to do better when it comes to protocols and procedures for any students that go missing. This terrible incident has put them in the spotlight for the way they have chosen to handle her disappearance. Not to mention our other so-called leaders within Buffalo, who took a week to make any statements, to inform the people to be on the lookout, and those who have remained silent.
When will the time come when we as citizens and community members stand in solidarity against these failing systems and agencies and demand they do better? Not just for our safety, but for those before us who are unable to stand with us today.
To learn more about Open Buffalo's Youth Action leadership development program, please contact Youth Organizer Devon Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.