Buffalo Remembers Victims of White Supremacist Shooting on First Anniversary


    On a day traditionally dedicated to celebrating mothers, Buffalo’s Jefferson Avenue Tops Friendly market was filled with hundreds of people gathering for a different reason. They had come to mark the first anniversary of a tragic event: a white supremacist gunman’s attack on Buffalo’s East Side, where he mercilessly murdered 10 people. This somber occasion drew attendees from across New York state, the United States, and Canada to show their support and solidarity with the grieving city.

    The Tops supermarket, where the shooting took place, was closed for the “Moment of Remembrance.” Elected officials including New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown were present. Under a white tent in the parking lot, family members of the victims, community members, and civil rights activist Al Sharpton spoke about the city’s resilience in the face of tragedy. Hundreds of people encircled the tent, straining to hear the speeches and at times requesting a louder public address system. Police blocked vehicles from driving down Jefferson Avenue during the memorial event.

    Mayor Brown addressed the crowd, acknowledging that it had been 365 days since the white supremacist drove to Buffalo with the intent to target and kill as many Black people as possible. He honored the lives lost, the injuries endured, and the collective trauma experienced by the entire city. However, he also highlighted the strength and unity demonstrated by Buffalonians in the aftermath of the mass shooting. Brown praised the community’s support, resilience, and the way they lifted each other up during times of grief.

    Amidst the crowds, Vivian Coffey, who had worked at the Jefferson Tops for nearly a decade before transferring to another location, stood alone. She reflected on the healing process over the past year, which was complicated by other mass shootings that occurred across the US. Coffey remembered the victims as regular customers whom she had served personally, and their loss deeply affected her.

    At 2:28 PM, the exact time the gunman began firing a year ago, the attendees observed a moment of silence, followed by the chiming of church bells in honor of the slain. During the remembrance, Tops President John Persons reaffirmed plans for the construction of a permanent memorial, while community members had already created their own tribute.

    People were given orange, white, and yellow roses by Tops representatives, and after the ceremony, they placed the flowers at a makeshift memorial located nearby, similar to what had been done one year ago. Chakera Griffin, whose uncle was one of the shooting victims, emphasized the enduring pain and the need to remember those lost in such tragic events. Despite the shooter’s guilty plea and life imprisonment sentence, the pain continues to linger.

    Griffin expressed her determination to return to the reopened Tops store, situated just blocks from where she grew up. She emphasized that the community should not let the shooter believe he has won, acknowledging the damage caused but asserting that they will not be completely broken.

    While the wounds remain, the community’s resilience, unity, and commitment to remembrance shine through. Buffalo stands together in the face of tragedy, ensuring that the victims will never be forgotten.