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Bells toll for Buffalo supermarket mass shooting victims one year after massacre

In the year since the shooting, relatives of the victims have spoken before Congress about white supremacy and gun reform and organized events to address food insecurity

Buffalo supermarket mass shooting
Flowers are placed near photographs of the victims killed in last year's racist massacre at a Buffalo supermarket as their lives are commemorated during the 5/14 Community Gathering for Reflection, Healing, and Hope at the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion in Buffalo, N.Y. on Saturday, May 13, 2023.Libby March/Buffalo News (AP)

The city of Buffalo will pause Sunday to mark the passing of one year since a gunman killed 10 people and wounded three others in a racist attack that targeted Black people at a city supermarket.

A moment of silence followed by the chiming of church bells at 2:28 p.m. will honor victims of the massacre at the Tops Friendly Market on May 14, 2022.

“The racially motivated mass shooting shook our community to its core. It was the day the unthinkable happened,” Mayor Byron Brown said in announcing plans for the commemoration, to be held at the now-reopened supermarket.

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.

In the year since the shooting, 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 the possession of 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.

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 for 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.

The 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.

Besides Chaney and Talley, the dead included Andre Mackneil, who was buying a cake for his son’s third birthday; church deacon Heyward Patterson; community advocate Katherine Massey; Ruth Whitfield, whose son was a Buffalo fire commissioner; Roberta Drury, who had moved back to Buffalo to help a brother diagnosed with cancer; church missionary Pearl Young; 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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