Bringing you news today from my beloved home in Buffalo, NY.
The title of this post comes from two different quotes.
The first half comes from the Reverend Al Sharpton on his visit to Buffalo this week. He said:
We cannot let hate win. And I think that we ought to know that Buffalo rose to the occasion. There's been no violence, there's been no riots. Buffalo stood up with love to answer hate. Buffalo stood up with dignity to answer an atrocity.
The second half comes from former Buffalo Bill, Bruce Smith. He said:
I bet you this racist did not count on this outpouring of love that's taken place right now, the strengthening of this community that's going on right now. And we are going to build upon that.
It has been an awful, heartbreaking, and infuriating week here in Buffalo. That racist monster planned and executed a horrific action. He murdered 10 people and injured more. He traumatized many others and took away the only supermarket in an urban food desert. This was a mass murder. This was a hate crime. This was a terrorist act.
All of those things are true, but we are making sure that his main goal will never be reached. That monster wanted to divide people and here in Buffalo, we are making sure that he will not only fail at that goal but that it will backfire. We choose love. We choose unity. We choose to dismantle racism.
You don’t get to pick your own legacy. You can pick your actions and hope that they will affect the world a certain way, but the world gets to pick. Putin can act to try to elevate his status but the people of Ukraine have chosen to not let his actions determine their legacy. The racist murderer tried to further a race war, but the people of Buffalo are not choosing to let his actions determine our legacy.
In addition to feeling sorrow and anger, we feel hopeful and determined. Hopeful because we are seeing the motivation of this shooter turned on its head. We are seeing people come together. Determined because we are dedicated to making this last beyond the 15 minutes of attention this awful act will garner. We will not ignore the poorest, Blackest corner of Buffalo anymore. We answer hate with love. Love wins.
Buffalo Stands Up With Love to Answer Hate
Here are just a few examples of what has happened this past week
Hundreds gather at community vigil to honor lives lost
At the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street, hundreds gathered to celebrate the ten lives lost on Saturday.
“We are stronger together, we’re powerful together, together we stand.”
Standing arm in arm, with candles lit, some sang, others cried, and everyone honored those lost.
“Letting the world know that we’re here, Buffalo’s here, we’re still strong and we’re here to heal together,” community vigil co-organizer Jamil Crews said.
The message was clear: hate will not win.
Buffalo community leaders gather for a ‘healing circle’
A group of community leaders came together Thursday in what they called a healing circle to help deal with the emotions of last Saturday’s shooting.
Members of the Buffalo Equity Coalition said this past weekend has left everyone broken hearted and everyone is feeling a range of emotions.
They organized this healing circle Thursday morning to help the community do just that: heal, from the tragedy of the Tops mass shooting. This was at the Buffalo Urban League on Genesee Street.
Among those who attended and spoke was Senator Tim Kennedy.
“It’s a conversation about race, its a conversation about history, about hate evil that’s perpetrated our country since before the inception of our country,” Senator Kennedy said.
Western New Yorkers from near and far standing together after Saturday's mass shooting
People like Marcus Trueheart said they’re touched to see everyone band together like this
“They say Buffalo is the city of good neighbors,” Trueheart said. “You’re seeing that right now, look at everyone, different walks of life.”
Trueheart grew up in Buffalo, but lives in Houston now. He said when he heard the news, he knew he needed to come home to pay his respects and check on his community.
‘I Leave Peaceprints’ message of non-violence spreading in the community
The white dove I Leave Peaceprint signs have been placed in honor of the ten victims who lost their lives in Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo.
“We have had requests coming for these doves all over Western New York, Lindsey Allen, director, community programs, Peaceprints WNY.
Buffalo Bills and NFL Foundations donating $400,000 to support community impacted by mass shooting
The Buffalo Bills Foundation and NFL Foundation announced a combined donation of $400,000 to support the community impacted by the mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue Saturday.
A combined $200,000 will go to the Buffalo Together Community Response Fund which is described as "a collaborative philanthropic effort across the region that will address the immediate and long-term needs in our community, including systemic issues that have marginalized communities of color."
The other $200,000 will be donated directly from the Buffalo Bills Foundation to various nonprofits such as Buffalo Go Green, African Heritage Food Co-op, the Resource Council of WNY, and UB Food Lab
SPCA serving Erie County reaching out to the Jefferson Avenue community with donations for people and pets
The SPCA of Serving Erie County has reached out to the community affected by the weekend tragedy in the Jefferson Avenue neighborhood. Cait Daly, President & CEO of the organization says "The SPCA's mission is to be in the community to create a more humane community for animals and people alike."
Collecting more than a thousand pounds of dog food, cat food and cat liter, the SPCA made deliveries to FeedMore WNY. Cait says "I felt compelled to reach out to the community and to let them know that as the SPCA and as a leader in this community we are here and I am here"
Walden Galleria hosting four-day food drive with FeedMore WNY, Back To Basics Outreach Ministries
Starting Thursday, Walden Galleria will partner with Back to Basics Outreach Ministries and FeedMore WNY to host a food drive benefiting community members affected by the mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo.
The grocery store, the only one operating in the neighborhood, remains closed following the tragedy. Organizations like FeedMore WNY and Buffalo Community Fridge are working to help people in the area affected by food insecurity.
The food drive will be set up in three locations: on the upper level of the mall outside of Urban Air Adventure Park, on the lower level at the Dick's Sporting Goods escalators, and on the lower level at the Macy's escalators.
Local teacher selling t-shirts to raise money for families of mass shooting victims
In the wake of Saturday's mass shooting at the Tops grocery store on Jefferson Avenue, many schools across Western New York are planning to show their support by wearing Buffalo gear to class.
In the City of Buffalo, a local teacher is making shirts to help her students who may have been directly impacted by the shooting that killed 10 people and injured three others.
Cara Shea has worked for the Buffalo Public School District for 12 years. In particular, the schools near the Tops store on Jefferson Avenue.
With the help of her side hustle, Shea decided to make t-shirts to raise money for the victims of the Tops shooting. The number "14208" that's printed on the shirts represents the zip code of where the tragedy took place, which is also where many of her students live.
"These students at school, I went on Monday, they are sad, they are angry, they're confused by what has happened and I felt like I needed to do something for them," Shea said.
So far Shea has sold over 150 shirts. She's hoping these shirts are a symbol of hope and that things will get better.
According to Shea, all of the profits made from the shirt sale will be donated directly to the families affected by this tragedy. The shirts are $15.
If you're looking to buy one of the shirts, click here.
Family of Buffalo mass shooting survivor collecting books on racism and Black history to distribute to community
20-year old Zaire Goodman was helping an elderly woman with her cart when he was shot in the neck during the hateful act of terrorism that killed ten innocent victims at the Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo.
In an interview with 7 News Zaire's mother, Zeneta Everhart, said that "education" should be the focus as the community tries to heal from the targeted racist attack.
In an effort to help children learn about race, racism and Black history, Zeneta Everhart and Zaire Goodman have put together this list of books that community members can purchase to "start these conversations at a grassroots level."
Zeneta and Zaire plan to distribute the books to community centers, schools and local organizations.
Buffalo stands together after deadly shooting
On Sunday afternoon, the Buffalo Community Fridge took in hundreds of donations and gave away food to hundreds of others. You can drop off or pick up groceries at 257 E Ferry St.
“The Tops is down right now so there’s not many fresh fruits or veggies available,” founder of Buffalo Community Fridge Jessie Reardon said.
Buffalo Creek Academy is delivering food to anyone who can’t make it to the community fridge or a grocery store further away. You can donate here or drop off groceries at 347 E Ferry St.
If you need groceries delivered, click here.
Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund surpasses $1 million in donations; donors from 50 states and 17 countries
On Thursday, the Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund surpassed $1 million in donations in support of the families of those killed in the Buffalo mass shooting and survivors.
The fund was organized by Tops and the National Compassion Fund, with Tops donating $500,000.
According to Tops, 100% of the contributions donated to the fund will go directly to families of those deceased, those injured and those who were present in the store and experienced psychological trauma
GoFundMe, the platform hosting donations to the fund, reported on Thursday that donations have been made from all 50 states in the U.S. Donors come from 17 different countries.
Man drives 3.5 hours to drop off food in wake of tragedy
A man several hours away is making a big difference in our community in the wake of the mass shooting on Jefferson Avenue.
Earlier this week, Greg Schwert drove 3.5 hours from a Cleveland suburb to drop off 417 pounds of food to Feedmore WNY. Schwert is originally from Williamsville, and said he was shocked someone would drive to Buffalo from so far away to do something so atrocious, and knew he needed to help.
“If somebody can go 3.5 hours to inflict such pain, then I can go 3.5 hours to provide some support, some hugs and a donation,” he said.
Walmart donates to African American Cultural Center
The influx of donations, pop-up markets and goodwill is hitting critical mass in the wake of the mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue.
Executives from one of the largest retailers in the world were in Buffalo on Thursday to donate $25,000 to the African American Cultural Center.
"We want to start our partnership with you this way because this is not going to be the end," said Cedric Clark, Senior Vice President of Walmart East Business Unit. "We are committed to eradicating hate where we can by supporting organizations like yours."
According to AACC's Executive Director, the money and resources that Walmart is providing will help them open their doors to the community and help them begin to heal.
"For our children and for families to come here and just use this place as a retreat, to get away from the media, the television, all of the noise of what's happening out in the community," said Jaqueline Mines, Executive Director at the AACC. "We want to give them an opportunity to come in here learn dance, do some painting, let's get on a circle, and let's talk about what happened and how it's impacted us."
Justice Department unveils new efforts to combat hate crimes
The Justice Department will announce renewed efforts to combat hate crimes across the country Friday, just days after 10 people were killed in a Buffalo supermarket shooting that officials have called a racially motivated hate crime.
Attorney General Merrick Garland is expected to unveil three new initiatives aimed at deterring and confronting hate crimes. First, the Justice Department will issue guidance on steps law enforcement officials and community organizations can take to raise awareness about increased hate crimes and encourage prevention.
The Justice Department will also open grant opportunities for states interested in creating state-run hate crime reporting hotlines
Finally, the Justice Department will announce its hiring of the first-ever Language Access Coordinator to work in the newly restored Office for Access to Justice.
What Can You Do?
First and foremost, make sure that people who push hate are NOT elected to public office.
We have started that trend here in Western New York.
School Board elections happened here in Western NY on Tuesday — in the wake of this tragedy and far right candidates were rejected in race after race.
In Hamburg, all three candidates endorsed by Robbie Dinero, who gained notoriety after he refused to close his gym during the pandemic, failed to win election.
Jeremy Zellner, chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party, tweeted on Tuesday: “Tonight in school board races across the county, voters overwhelmingly chose reason over right-wing rhetoric, and science over conspiracy theories, bigotry, and extremism.”
We can do this nationally. Remember, the Midterm Jinx Is Not Inevitable
The Democrats are facing long odds, but there are several reasons this could be an unusual political year. For starters, Donald Trump is just as likely to hobble Republicans as he is to energize them. in 2020, Mr. Trump’s meddling backfired and helped Democrats take two Senate seats.
A Democratic effort reminiscent of grass roots groups in 2017 is beginning to gear up. For example, Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland sponsors a Democracy Summer for college students who want to get out and organize. This idea has been picked up in dozens of other congressional districts.
Senator Jon Ossoff of Georgia, in the January 2021 runoff election that won him a Senate seat, helped pioneer a technique called paid relational organizing. He hired some 2,800 Georgians to reach out to their own peer networks to win support for Mr. Ossoff. Now several people who worked with Senator Ossoff are taking this strategy national.
What can you do?
Want to Help Buffalo?
Here are just a few options for groups that work with people on the east side of Buffalo
Black Love Resists in the Rust
In their own words: “Black Love Resists in Rust is the only intentional space for Black and Brown folks in Buffalo. We organize at the intersections of embodied leadership, healing justice, political education and transformational organizing. We envision a Buffalo where communities are sustainable and have what they need to thrive without external assistance. We know we cannot do this without a base who is engaged and without significantly shifting the material conditions for most of Buffalo’s residents, which is why our current work is focused on ending the oppression enforced by the state.”
Learn More | Donate Here
In their own words: “Aaron Bartley and Eric Walker founded PUSH in 2005. PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing) was established to: create strong neighborhoods with quality affordable housing; decrease the rate of housing abandonment by reclaiming empty houses from neglectful public and private owners and redeveloping them for occupancy by low-income residents; and develop neighborhood leaders capable of gaining community control over the development process and planning for the future of the neighborhood.”
Learn More | Donate Here
In their own words: “Healthy and Halal, Buffalo Food Pantry. We aim to heal, educate, and transform food deserts into thriving communities. We work to provide access to free locally-sourced, healthy, and halal food in a loving, judgement-free community space.”
Learn More | Donate Here
African Heritage Food Co-op
In their own words: “Our vision is to create a world where inner city “neighborhoods” can become Communities. Where NO ONE goes without HEALTHY AFFORDABLE food options. Most importantly a world in which we can create Ownership and employment opportunities IN and FOR the COMMUNITY!”
Learn More | Donate Here
Want to Help Keep Racists Out of Power?
DONATE! I set up a place where we can donate and the funds will be distributed evenly between the tossup House and Senate races. Think of it as a one stop shop for using your $$$ to save democracy. Here is the link:
Did you already donate? Great. Do it again. If you can afford it, donate more.
Here are some other things you can do:
Finally, in lieu of a “lighter side” section, here are some inspirational words to fortify us:
I apologize to those who came here looking for good news from outside of Buffalo. Maybe you can share it in the comments. For me, it is hard to focus on anything else this week.
I am so lucky and so proud to be in this with all of you ✊🏻✊🏽✊🏾💜💛💚🧡💜💛💚🧡✊🏻✊🏽✊🏾