Standing in the same parking lot where he was shot in the neck a year ago in a racist attack at a Buffalo supermarket, Zaire Goodman said he was grateful to see the community come together in remembrance Sunday.
His family and others affected by the mass shooting gathered with top state and local officials, first responders and religious leaders to remember the 10 people who were killed and three, including Goodman, who were wounded at Tops Friendly Market, which closed Sunday for the one-year anniversary of the shootings.
Goodman, 21, who worked at the store and was shot while collecting carts outside, has been back to the market many times since, even visiting while it was being remodeled in the weeks after the massacre as some questioned whether it should ever reopen.
“I just wanted to show people that it’s alright. We don’t need to close the store indefinitely,” he said. “We know the store is still important to people in this area.”
Mayor Byron Brown read the 13 victims’ names before a moment of silence. A first responder then chimed a bell 13 times. Brown, Gov. Kathy Hochul and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer were among those who gave speeches.
“It’s a beautiful day. It’s Mother’s Day,” Hochul said. “And the cruel irony behind the fact is a day we celebrate a life that comes into this world, making someone a mother, is also a day we’re here to think about those who are no longer with us. It’s hard. It’s been a really hard year.”
Earlier in the week, panelists discussed ways to combat racism and social media radicalization and residents were invited to reflect at an outdoor community gathering.
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After Sunday’s ceremony, Goodman recalled how after being wounded he ran across the street in search of safety, calling his mother along the way.
“Hey, you need to get here,” he told her.
Since then, Goodman’s mother, Zeneta Everhart, and other relatives of the victims have spoken before Congress about white supremacy and gun reform and organized events to address food insecurity that worsened when the market, the neighborhood’s only grocery store, was inaccessible for two months.
President Joe Biden honored the lives of those killed in Buffalo in an op-ed published Sunday in USA Today. He called on Congress and state legislative leaders to act by banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, requiring background checks for all gun sales, and repealing gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability. His administration passed a landmark gun measure in June following a series of mass shootings.
New York state law already bans possessing magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Gun control organizations and advocates including Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action held nearly 200 events across the country over the weekend, calling on Congress to reinstate a bipartisan assault weapons ban.
In Buffalo, Wayne Jones, whose mother Celestine Chaney, 65, died in the attack, urged the city and its institutions to keep on investing in the area and its residents even after the anniversary events are over.
That’s why he is willing, he said, “to keep opening up this wound that I have” and talk about it.
After the remembrance ceremony, adults visited tents offering information about mental health and other forms of community support.
Rosemary Glover of Buffalo remembered the pain she felt when she recognized two of the shooting victims’ names: Katherine Massey, a community advocate; and Pearl Young, who belonged to the same church ministry as Glover. She came Sunday to honor them and the community.
“We have to continue to support one another,” she said. “That’s the only way we’re going to heal.”
The son of 63-year-old shooting victim Geraldine Talley on Sunday released a book that he said describes what he went through after losing his mother. He titled it: “5/14 : The Day the Devil Came to Buffalo.”
“I definitely know that she wouldn’t want me to be consumed by sadness and anger,” Talley said of his mother, speaking outside of the store as the anniversary approached, “so I will definitely try to find strength in her memory and use it to fight injustice and racism for the rest of my life in her name.”
Inside the remodeled store, fountains flank a poem dedicated to the victims. A commission is at work designing a permanent memorial outside. In the meantime, a hand-painted mural overlooking the parking lot promotes unity, with a Black hand and white hand meeting together in prayer.
An 18-year-old white supremacist carried out the attack after driving more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) from his home in rural Conklin, New York.
In addition to Chaney, Talley, Massey and Young, the dead included Andre Mackneil, who was buying a cake for his son’s third birthday; church deacon Heyward Patterson; Ruth Whitfield, whose son was a Buffalo fire commissioner; Roberta Drury, who had moved back to Buffalo to help a brother diagnosed with cancer; Margus Morrison, who was buying dinner for a family movie night; and Aaron Salter, a retired Buffalo police officer who was working as a security guard.
The gunman pleaded guilty to murder and other charges and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in February. A federal case against him is pending.
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