Buffalo shooting’s wounds need a strong salve, residents say

May 22, 2022, 8:35 AM | Updated: May 23, 2022, 1:52 pm
FILE - Children walk hand in hand in a street near the scene of a shooting at a supermarket in Buff...

FILE - Children walk hand in hand in a street near the scene of a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., Sunday, May 15, 2022. Long before an 18-year-old avowed white supremacist inflicted terror at a Buffalo supermarket, the city's Black neighborhoods, like many others around the nation, had been dealing with wounds that are generations old. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Shenaya Ann Washington and a close friend cleared a small patch of grass at the base of a utility pole on Riley Street. They dug a hole there and planted a red rose bush seedling. Next to it, they leaned 10 prayer candles against the pole.

Washington said she chose that spot to memorialize the victims of last weekend’s massacre at Tops Friendly Market because it is closest to the store entrance she had always used as a part-time worker for Instacart, the grocery delivery service.

Sometimes when she would exit the store, Aaron Salter Jr., the slain retired police officer who worked security at Tops, would help Washington back to her car with the grocery orders, she said.

The shooter, whose racist attack deeply wounded east Buffalo’s Black community, has stolen much more than the neighborhood’s only grocery store and the sense of peace many residents felt in the cherished community gathering spot.

“He took away people who did for the community, just because of the color of their skin. It’s an eye opener. It’s a reality check,” Washington said.

During Sunday service, Pastor Russell Bell of the State Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, where shooting victim Heyward Patterson was a deacon, promised his congregation that they would hold a celebration of his life. Bell also encouraged his predominantly Black flock to lean into their faith.

“We’re going to be winners if we endure to the end,” he said.

Just over a week ago, a white gunman in body armor killed 10 Black shoppers and workers at the supermarket that has been temporarily closed. Three others were injured in the attack, which federal authorities are investigating as a hate crime.

Long before that 18-year-old avowed white supremacist inflicted terror in this community, Buffalo’s Black neighborhoods, like many others around the nation, had been dealing with wounds that are generations old. The attack has scraped off the scab hiding Black trauma and neglect that sit just below the surface in what’s called the City of Good Neighbors, residents, business owners and faith leaders said.

Healing will require not only an immediate flood of charity, but also systemic solutions, economic investments and mental health counseling that are long lasting, they said.

“It’s been great to see the outpouring of support, I must say that,” said Jackie Stover-Stitts, co-owner of Golden Cup Coffee, about a block from the Tops on Jefferson Avenue.

For the past few days, the atmosphere around her shop had been festival-like and, at times, a somber space of mourning. Organizations from across the nation, and even a few global charities, offered food and other essential goods to residents who relied on Tops to meet their basic needs.

“The only concern is that it’s not short lived,” Stover-Stitts said. “It would mean more if we could see, on Monday, that all those people with funds that came down to say how sorry they were could show it by investing in our area.”

Buffalo, with a population of 255,000 that is 47% white, 35% Black, 12% Hispanic and 6% Asian, is one of the nation’s most racially segregated cities. The neighborhoods around the Tops market are predominantly Black and impoverished.

Earlier in the week, civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton pointed to racial and socioeconomic inequality that made the Tops a target for the shooter, who officials say drove hundreds of miles to find Black people to gun down.

“If there wasn’t but one supermarket in the Black community, he wouldn’t have gone to Tops,” Sharpton said at a prayer vigil held in Buffalo for the victims’ families on Thursday.

“If you can figure out how to get millions of dollars for a stadium, can’t you figure out how to get a supermarket,” Sharpton added, referring to a new $1.4 billion home turf planned for the Buffalo Bills that will be funded largely by taxpayers.

La’Tryse Anderson of Buffalo SNUG, a gun violence prevention organization, canvassed the neighborhood around the Tops with other volunteers to get a sense of residents’ needs. Some told her they needed groceries, toiletries, replacement appliances and even a utility bill paid.

“I wish I had a magic wand,” she said. “There were so many needs out here, before this (shooting) happened.”

Without real investments in the areas that surround the Tops, Anderson said, “I don’t think we’ll ever fully heal from this.”

Residents will definitely need the option of another supermarket, as some have vowed to never set foot in that Tops location again, she added. They are too traumatized.

Reshawna Chapple, a Black therapist and associate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Central Florida, said the shock and grief caused by the supermarket shooting are made worse when people are not tending to their mental health. Systemic racism is part of the reason why too few in the Black community seek mental health counseling, either on a regular basis or in the wake of tragedy, she said.

“Every time something like this happens, it opens up the wounds all over again,” Chapple said. “We aren’t taught to acknowledge feelings that are negative. The ones who need help the most are definitely not going to ask for it.”

Mental health and grief counseling is why several community service organizations have been camped out around the supermarket for several days. With the Tops fenced off, organizations such as Feed Buffalo, Ramp Global Missions and LIFE Camp Inc., lined the surrounding streets with food trucks, mobile food pantries and barbecue grills serving chicken, burgers and hot dogs.

A trio of massage therapists offered neck and back treatments to victims’ families and other residents. A local Starbucks gave out free coffee to passersby.

An evangelist baptized people in a large galvanized stock tank on the corner of Riley Street and Jefferson Avenue. The local Muslim community offered prayers and chants of “We are with you” near the supermarket.

Gregory Jackson Jr., a Washington-based organizer with the Community Justice Action Fund, said he came to Buffalo to help coordinate relief efforts to victims’ families and residents, who were too traumatized to ask for what they need.

“A lot of folks have not even gotten close to going back to normal life yet,” he said. “You get local police, cameras and media, from all over the world. But the community is stuck to pick up the pieces without any bigger support.”

The supermarket shooting has also drawn support for the activists from around the nation. On Saturday, organizers with Black Lives Matter Grassroots, a national collective of chapters, held a vigil for Buffalo. Organizers from Boston, Detroit, Virginia Beach, Virginia and Minneapolis attended and vowed to be with Buffalo’s residents as they continued to heal from the racist attack.

“We cannot have a world that steals the lives of our grandmothers,” said Melina Abdullah, who directs the BLM group and founded its Los Angeles chapter. “We are duty bound to shut that down.”

____

Morrison writes about race and justice for the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/aaronlmorrison.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

An Amtrak train which derailed after striking a dump truck is seen beyond a corn field Monday, June...
Associated Press

NTSB investigators look into fatal Missouri Amtrak accident

MENDON, Mo. (AP) — Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were in Missouri Tuesday trying to determine how an Amtrak train carrying more than 200 people slammed into a dump truck, killing two train passengers and the truck driver. Amtrak’s Southwest Chief was traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago Monday afternoon when it struck […]
8 hours ago
Associated Press

Nissan recalls about 323K SUVs; hoods can open unexpectedly

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nissan is recalling nearly 323,000 Pathfinder SUVs in the U.S. because the hoods can unexpectedly fly open and block the driver’s view. The recall covers Pathfinders from the 2013 through 2016 model years. The automaker says in documents posted Tuesday by U.S. safety regulators that dust and dirt can accumulate on the […]
8 hours ago
FILE - This Feb. 22, 2018, file photo, shows an Airbnb logo during an event in San Francisco. Airbn...
Associated Press

Airbnb makes global party ban permanent, saying it works

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Airbnb is making permanent its ban on parties at homes listed on the site for short-term rentals. The San Francisco company believes the ban has worked, saying Tuesday that reports of parties at listed properties have dropped 44% from a year ago. More than 6,600 guests were suspended last year for […]
8 hours ago
FILE - Shoppers shop at a retail store in Niles, Ill., on Feb. 19, 2022.   U.S. consumer confidence...
Associated Press

US consumer confidence tested as economic anxiety grows

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers were less confident again in June as persistent inflation and rising interest rates have Americans as pessimistic as they’ve been about the future in almost a decade. The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index slipped to 98.7 in June from 103.2 in May, the second straight monthly […]
8 hours ago
Associated Press

Biden arrives in Spain looking to buck up weary NATO allies

MADRID (AP) — President Joe Biden arrived in Spain on Tuesday to meet with fellow leaders of NATO with plans to beef up the American presence in Europe at a moment of growing concern about the alliance’s resolve in the face of the grinding war in Ukraine. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said […]
8 hours ago
The Nirvana, a sleek 88-meter-long superyacht worth about $300 million, owned by Vladimir Potanin, ...
Associated Press

Yacht of wealthiest Russian oligarch docked in haven Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The man considered to be the wealthiest oligarch in Russia, who has been photographed playing ice hockey with President Vladimir Putin, joins a growing list of those transferring — or, sailing — their prized assets to Dubai as the West tightens its massive sanctions program on Russia’s economy. Vladimir […]
8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Buffalo shooting’s wounds need a strong salve, residents say