Twenty-one flower-filled backpacks, surrounded by the names of the children and teachers killed in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, stood as a monument to the nation's latest mass shooting tragedy at a vigil Thursday in Copley Square.

Dozens of people came to the event, which was organized by the Artist Initiative for Revolution, a local collective of artists of color, to process their emotions, connect with others or simply just try to cope with the weight of the moment.

Some people put flowers in the backpacks, while other wrote messages in chalk and on notebooks passed out by organizers reflecting how they felt.

For some, the feeling they had was something like exasperation.

Rachel Myers, a student at Emerson College, said she went to the March for Our Lives protest against gun violence in Washington, D.C. when she was in high school.

"And you know, there's a power in protest, but I wish that we didn't have to do this," she said. "Because it's not [young people's] job and it's not our responsibility to protect ourselves. And constantly, the pressure to fix our problems is put on young people and it weighs heavy on us and it affects us everyday of our lives.

"And I'm glad to see that we're organizing, 'cause I think that we really can change things. But I wish it wasn't necessary...I just don't want to ever have to come out here again."

Rachel Pac and Matt McDonnell are both students at Berklee College of Music.

"We both study music education at Berklee, so we're both going to be teachers, so this is like a very real, scary situation that could happen to both of us," McDonnell said. "So definitely out here advocating, showing support, making it known that we do need a change in this country."

Backpacks, filled with flowers, rest in a circle in Copley Square in Boston during a vigil in memory of the children and teachers murdered in the Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting. Photo taken May 26, 2022.
Meredith Nierman GBH News

For Pac, who is from Houston, the shooting hit close to home.

"It's a lot of feelings," Pac said. "I mean 'cause it's like...being from Texas is such a cultural and emotional thing. Especially because you know, like, at the heart what that community is. Wherever you live in Texas, we are so tight knit together."

Leo Smith, one of the organizers of the event, said the Artist Initiative for Revolution wants to use the messages gathered at the vigil to send to lawmakers.

Smith, who's an English teacher at Roxbury Prep High School, said it's scary because a shooting like the one in Uvalde or a grocery store in Buffalo or a church in California feels like it can happen anywhere.

"Too many people have experienced this for no change to really have happened yet," he said. "Even when it comes to things like this, we realize that, you know, maybe a lawmaker will see this. Maybe somebody on Capitol Hill will see this and be like, 'You know, the people are here, they're asking for change and it's not enough for us to just sit back."

When asked how he felt seeing all those who showed up for the vigil, Smith paused and looked at the crowd.

"Unfortunately, this takes me back," he said. "We were here almost two years ago and we put on a rally, it was the Rally for Jacob Blake and Black Lives. I believe that's what we titled it. And it was a very similar set up....and we sang songs and we reflected and we came together. And there was a big turnout.

"And of course we love to see that people are coming out to engage. But it is saddening that people have to come out for these types of events. Because we don't want to see lives lost. But, again, I'm very excited that people are willing to engage."