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Knoxville church, group gives Austin-East students safe space to vent amid tragedy

Published: Feb. 21, 2021 at 8:53 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2021 at 11:18 AM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -What was supposed to be a school night full of homework, instead was one flooded with pain.

“We have to change this,” Chinaya Mason, an Austin-East senior, said.

The group Black Coffee Justice and Mount Zion Baptist Church gave students a safe space to vent Wednesday night following the deaths of three Austin East students in just three weeks.

The students’ parents, teachers, coaches and city leaders listened as the students laid out what they wanted from the audience.

“Justice and peace. Not just for the families, but for everybody,” Mason said.

Mason told WVLT News part of healing is having parents and loved ones to turn to during a time of hurt.

“My mom, she’s my best friend, so we talk about everything that is going on. We pray really every morning and every night together,” Mason said.

Organizers said there will be more sessions for hurting teens to come together to talk, grieve and heal.

School officials have also said counselors are available at Austin-East for any student who needs help.

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