Memorial will honor Buffalo supermarket shooting victims

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The victims of a racist mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket will be honored with a permanent memorial in the neighborhood, elected and community leaders announced Friday.

The shooting “is part of the Buffalo story forever going forward,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “We want to do something that people remember. A place to come and reflect. A place to honor. And a place to say never again.”

Former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield, whose 86-year-old mother Ruth Whitfield was among the 10 Black people killed May 14, is among those appointed to a planning commission tasked with acquiring land, seeking input on the design, securing funds and maintaining the monument. Buffalo NAACP President Mark Blue will lead the effort.

“It’s not going to take the place of my mother or the lives of the other loved ones that were lost here,” Whitfield said. “So we will forever miss them and honor their legacy by what we do going forward.”

The officials did not specify a budget or timeline for the project’s completion. Brown said numerous businesses and people have offered to contribute.

Payton Gendron, 19, has been charged with killing 10 and wounding three others at the Tops Friendly Market. Investigators said he drove 200 miles from his Conklin home intending to kill as many Black people as possible at the store, which he targeted because of its location in the predominantly Black East Buffalo neighborhood. He has pleaded not guilty.

In the wake of the shooting, New York banned anyone under age 21 from buying or possessing a semi-automatic rifle like the one used by Gendron, who was 18 at the time.

Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James, both Democrats, also have called on lawmakers to outlaw the creation of videos of homicides, citing the viral spread across the internet of recordings livestreamed by killers. In a report this week, they also recommended ensuring online platforms take “reasonable steps” to stop such recordings from being circulated.

The shooter wrote in an online diary that he was inspired in part by violent videos and writings accessible across various platforms, especially by a video clip of the mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“We talk to these social media platforms and the legitimate ones are with us,” Hochul said Friday, “but what we have to continue to deal with are those on the dark web and find ways to change federal laws, because right now they have a lot of protections under federal law. That’s the barrier we face.”

Also appointed to the memorial commission were representatives of Tops Friendly Markets, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Buffalo Arts Commission and a coffee shop near the shooting site.

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