Calling hours begin for 'Pito' Rivera

Sep 19, 2018

As calling hours take place before Thursday morning's funeral for Rafael "Pito" Rivera, PUSH Buffalo has set up a GoFundMe webpage to gather donations for the grieving family.

Rafael "Pito" Rivera
Credit PUSH Buffalo

The 32-year-old Rivera was fatally shot last week by Buffalo Police just outside PUSH Buffalo's new headquarters on the city's West Side. In a detailed statement, the sustainable housing organization says its role as details of the shooting unfold is to support the Rivera family.

"This includes making and holding space for the family, our staff, and the wider community to reflect and heal in the aftermath of this tragic event. We know that this work is long-term and we hope that we can provide some justice to an unjust situation, not by sensationalizing the loss of human life, or inciting anger that could bring further harm to our community, but rather through building authentic relationships with Pito’s family and by engaging in authentic dialogue with our members about ways we can improve our community so that we can prevent more tragedies like this one from happening."

PUSH says it will also continue working for "greater transparency and accountability" from the justice system.

"We recognize that moments like these are part of much larger systemic problems that have plagued communities of color and working class communities for far too long. We aspire to address systemic injustices holistically by proposing tangible solutions that are bottom-up while moving with love for one another’s humanity. This is the third incident in quick succession of fatal shootings by police that have occured in this community. Finding long-term, community-led solutions that tackle the root causes of racial, economic, and cultural inequality is core to our mission."

PUSH says it is also cooperating with authorities.

"This is an incident that we didn't instigate or agitate, but due to the will of higher powers, landed right on our front doorstep."

"We complied with a court order to give over a copy of our surveillance video that captured the police shooting early that morning to the Buffalo Police Department, and have given a copy of the same video to the Rivera Family. At this time, an investigation is underway and we want to respect Pito Rivera’s family as they are in the process of healing and exploring their legal options. We’ll continue to coordinate provision of different social, emotional, and mental health services for our staff and the wider community to mitigate the trauma that this incident has created and triggered. At the request of the family, we will not make a copy of the video public nor release it to media."

The family's HoganWillig attorneys have been inviting media to view the video - WBFO is among those media outlets to view the 35-minute video - but they also will not be releasing it to the public.

In its statement, PUSH described Rivera as a "doting father" to two children, with an "incredible sense of humor...a beloved son...a brother, a cousin, a nephew, and a friend to so many people in the community."

Calling hours will be held at Lombardo Funeral Home on Linwood Avenue in Buffalo from 2 p.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday. Funeral services will take place Thursday at Lombardo's beginning at 9:30 a.m.