Residents of Buffalo gathered outside a Tops store on the city's east side Sunday to commemorate one year since a white supremacist teenager killed 10 Black people and wounded three others there, voicing a resounding message that "hate did not win."
The Tops market on Jefferson Avenue was closed for Sunday's ceremony as those who survived and the loved ones of those killed gathered under a tent in the parking lot to mark the horrific episode with prayer, speeches and the tolling of a bell in recognition of those killed and wounded.
"As we stand here one year later, this building, this neighborhood, this community are a testament to the simple fact that hate did not win on that day, the white supremacist did not win on that day, that the people of Buffalo said, 'Love will come out and be the winner,'" New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told the gathering.
Saying "this is not just put up a memorial and walk away," Hochul promised to continue to help the community, specifically the residents of the predominantly Black east side neighborhood where the rampage occurred, to recover.
She stressed that $1.1 billion in state and federal funds have been earmarked to help the neighborhood, which has suffered from decades of neglect and socioeconomic inequalities.
"We're not abandoning you," said Hochul. "We are committed to building up our local economy, creating more jobs, giving our kids alternatives, helping our small businesses, ending the food deserts. We are here for you."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown spoke directly to the families of those killed who attended the ceremony, saying their response to the tragedy has made the entire city proud.
"The way you have stood up, spoken up, the way you have represented your families, yourselves, our community has been nothing short of amazing," Brown said. "I consider all of you heroes."
The mayor read the names of the those killed: Roberta Drury, 32; Margus Morrison, 52; Andre Mackniel, 53; retired Buffalo police officer Aaron Salter Jr., 55; Geraldine Talley, 62; Celestine Chaney, 65; Heyward Patterson, 67; Katherine "Kat" Massey, 72; Pearl Young, 77; and Ruth Whitfield, 86. The mayor also read the names of those wounded, Zaire Goodman, Jennifer Warrington and Christopher Braden.
Brown also acknowledged the Tops workers and shoppers who were in the store at the time of the shooting and were left traumatized.
At 2:28 p.m. local time on Sunday, the exact moment the massacre started on May 14, 2022, a Buffalo firefighter rang a silver bell 13 times for the 10 people killed and the three people injured.
"It's still hard to believe that one year ago a racist attack took place right here in this neighborhood. Not some place far away, but in a place that we call home," John Persons, the president of Tops Friendly Markets, told those gathered. "Today, our hearts still ache for the families of the victims and they ache for the many survivors. It was an act of unimaginable hate, yet our community responded with an outpouring of love and compassion."
Sen. Chuck Schumer reminded those gathered that in the wake of the Buffalo mass shooting and the murders of 19 students and two teachers at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school in May 24, 2022, Congress passed the "first significant legislation for gun safety in 30 years."
The bipartisan legislation, signed into law by President Joe Biden last June, expands background checks on people between the ages of 18 and 21 seeking to buy a gun, encourages states to implement "red flag" laws to remove firearms from people considered a threat, earmarks $15 billion in federal funding for mental health programs and school security upgrades, and closes the so-called "boyfriend loophole" by blocking gun sales to those convicted of abusing unmarried intimate partners.
"We couldn't do it until the families came down and looked those legislators in the eye and said, 'We have suffered. We don't want others to suffer,'" Schumer said. "It's an amazing thing what the families have done."