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When Will the Racist Violence End?: Mass Shooting in Buffalo and How to Help

Kimberly Johnson places her hand on a photo of the late Hayward Patterson at a memorial for the victims. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

As I struggle to find an opening that will introduce this tragic attack with the respect and grandeur it deserves, I realize the difficulty is a result of the impending inevitability of something like this happening again. On May 14, 2022, a white supremacist and terrorist opened fire 200 miles away from his home in a premeditated racist attack at a supermarket in a predominantly Black area. During the horrific attack, he claimed the lives of ten people and wounded three others in what is one of the deadliest racist massacres in recent years. This coward, after taking ten lives, made an attempt to take his own before being persuaded against this action by police officers. 

 

Ten. “The Buffalo Ten”. The victims already have a name as if the incident is being shoved into peoples’ memories because it’s much easier to see “The Buffalo Ten” as nothing more than a distant memory than to be reminded of individual names.

 

 The victims are Celestine Chaney, Roberta A. Drury, Andre Mackniel, Katherine Massey, Margus D. Morrison, Heyward Patterson, Geraldine Talley,  Ruth Whitfield, Pearl Young, and Aaron Salter Jr. Those who were killed. 

 

Those who had lives that matter and whose names matter because they were people, they were important, and they were more than “The Buffalo Ten.” Why did these ten face this fate? Why were an additional three— Christopher Braden,  Zaire Goodman, and Jennifer Warrington— wounded? You’d have to ask the gunman. 

 

Payton Gendron, the name I’d rather forget, allocated months of planning during which he posted racist and antisemitic media and rhetoric on the internet. This monster considered locations to commit his deplorable attack before settling on Tops grocery store in Buffalo, NY. Days prior to the attack, he publicly posted images of himself and a gun with the names of other mass shooters written on it to the chat app Discord. The messages (originally private) dated back from November up until shortly before the attack laying out in meticulous detail the racist and violent ideology that ignited his actions. This attack was committed by nothing more than a white supremacist with a gun (who was previously cleared in a psych evaluation), an affair that is rampant throughout American history

 

This attack has distinctly impacted the victims, survivors, their families, and the entire Buffalo community in a horrendous and completely deplorable manner. Taisiah Stewart, one survivor, recounts his experience escaping to the supermarket freezer during the shooting expressing, “I came in contact with my worst fear, a white man with a gun coming after me.” This is a common fear for many Black Americans as this is not a new or unexpected occurrence and it is tragic that this is the state of racism in America in 2022. This shooting has only cast a brighter light on the rise of hate crimes toward Black Americans. Data collected in 2020 showed the highest spike in hate crimes in dozens of years based on a report released by the FBI last year (which only includes reported cases) in which Black Americans consisted of more than half the victims. This spike was largely driven by increases in hate crimes committed against Black and Asian Americans. 

 

This is once again proof that the death of George Floyd caused a lot of noise but not a lot of change. According to Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, “The year 2020 changed the trajectory of prejudice in some ways to refocus on American Blacks, in part because of the social justice protests following the murder of George Floyd.” While the protests were a beautiful jester and a chance for many Black Americans to voice their frustrations, many of those frustrations have gone unheard. Buffalo’s Black community members voiced their opinions as President Biden visited the area with one individual stating:  “We don’t even know why we’re out here. A lot of Black people are just here to say ‘oh, wow the president is here’ but it’s like, the president isn’t doing anything for us…Nothing has changed since George Floyd and when I asked the crowd, no one could raise their hand and tell me what has changed since George Floyd.” 

 

Many community members are pushing for some type of legislation specifically protecting Black Americans similar to the bill for Asian American assaults. Others are also pushing for the issue of poverty and racial segregation in Buffalo’s community to be addressed by Buffalo officials as they are long-standing problems and suggest it gave the perfect opportunity for a white supremacist to launch an attack on a majority Black neighborhood. The attack has also unfortunately made this neighborhood plagued by poverty a bigger food desert. Across Buffalo’s East Side, where the attack took place, many of the Black residents live in a food desert with little access to low-cost healthy food selections. His racist attack has taken away the crucial need and accessibility the Tops market provided when it opened, only weakening the already vulnerable community.

 

This domestic terrorist attack from a white supremacist following ideology rooted in hatred, has plagued the Buffalo community. It is crucial that we all show up to support the community and call for government officials to take action that prevents this from happening again. Reportedly, New York lawmakers are attempting to strengthen the state’s gun laws but maybe America should face the fact that their proposed gun laws are not enough. While it’s unclear how much action government offices may take at this time, we individuals can still do what we can to uplift and support the Buffalo community. We can speak up, push for more legislation, and most of all, show our support physically or monetarily by volunteering and donating. 

 

How to Help the Buffalo Community 

100% of the contributions go directly to victims and survivors.

 

Addresses immediate needs in the community, as well as long-term community rebuilding and systemic issues that have marginalized communities of color.

 

Umbrella food help organization is running emergency distribution sites at the Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion (1100 Jefferson Ave.) and the Resource Council of WNY (347 E. Ferry St.) and needs donations and volunteers

 

AT&T has teamed up with the City of  Buffalo and Mayor Byron Brown to launch a Text-to-Give campaign to provide financial support to the Buffalo Together Community Response Fund. 

 

Text Buffalo to 20222 to make a $10 donation to go to both the Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund and the Buffalo Together Community Response Fund. The 5/14 Survivors Fund has been established by the National Compassion Fund to provide direct financial assistance to the survivors of the deceased and those directly affected by this tragedy. 

 

Totally Buffalo Store has a new "Buffalo Strong" t-shirt design to aid those in need in the Jefferson Avenue Community. 100% of the sales from the shirt will go to the Jefferson Avenue Community.

 

The center is a partner to distribute food, household staples, and resources for area families affected by the closing of the local Tops grocery store.

 

A volunteer-led network of community fridges dedicated to giving Buffalo communities access to fresh & healthy food. Please donate food and hygiene products only.

 

Northtown Automotive is accepting donations at all locations of general grocery and personal care items to be transported daily to the Resource Council of WNY.

 

  • You can also contact and email your representatives directly! It makes a huge difference!

 

You can find more resources to help the East Side Buffalo community here and here

 

Check out our social media below for more resources and you can find more articles like this on Lemon-Aid

 

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Sources: 

https://www.nytimes.com/news-event/buffalo-ny-mass-shooting?name=styln-buffalo-shooting&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=LegacyCollection&variant=show 

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/14/nyregion/victims-buffalo-shooting.html?name=styln-buffalo-shooting&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=LegacyCollection&variant=show&is_new=false 

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/16/nyregion/buffalo-shooting-suspect-discord-chat.html 

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/16/us/hate-crimes-black-african-americans.html 

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/16/nyregion/food-desert-buffalo-shooting.html 

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/17/nyregion/gun-laws-buffalo-albany.html?smid=url-share 

https://buffalonews.com/opinion/editorial/how-you-can-help-after-buffalo-mass-shooting/article_6e978734-d877-11ec-abb7-a3f864d388d7.html 

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