New York Officials Announce Plans For Memorial To Buffalo Mass Shooting Victims

Accused white supremacist Payton Gendron faces federal hate crime charges for gunning down 10 Black victims.

Five months after an accused white supremacist gunned down 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown revealed plans to create a memorial to honor the victims.

Hochul and Brown, speaking at a news conference on Friday (Oct. 21), announced the establishment of the May 14th Memorial Commission, which will develop and advise on a plan to build a memorial in East Buffalo.

"The May 14th Memorial Commission will create a lasting reminder of the losses we experienced that awful day,” Hochul stated.

“While we combat racism in all forms and work towards a future where hatred and bigotry are a thing of the past, the Commission, led by Reverend Mark Blue and supported by partners like Mayor Brown, will have a leading role in uplifting the East Buffalo community," she added.

According to prosecutors, on May 14 Payton Gendron, now 19, entered the Tops Friendly Markets store with a military-style assault rifle and opened fire. He allegedly researched the local demographics and chose that supermarket to kill as many Black people as possible. The investigation found Gendron had repeatedly visited online sites that promoted white supremacist ideologies and race-based conspiracy theories.

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"Our community was deeply affected by the events of May 14, 2022, and the May 14th Memorial Commission will bring transformative ideas to the forefront that will aid in the healing and create a symbol of remembrance,” Brown stated.

At the news conference, Buffalo NAACP president Rev. Mark E. Blue was appointed chair of the 11-member commission, which will consist of East Buffalo community members, as well as local civic and cultural leaders who are “representative of the full diversity of Buffalo's Black communities.”

Among its tasks, the commission will acquire land, retain an architect and fundraising. In addition to securing private funding, the state and city committed to financially supporting the project.

The victims ranged in age from a 20-year-old who survived a bullet through the neck and back, to the fatal shooting of an 86-year-old woman whose son is a retired Buffalo fire commissioner, the Buffalo News reported.

RELATED: Ten Buffalo Shooting Victims Include A 'Hero' Security Guard And Community Activist, 72

Ruth Whitfield, 86, was a grandmother and the caregiver for her husband. She was gunned down at the supermarket after returning from a nursing home to visit her husband. “She was a blessing to all of us," said her son, retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield, told the Buffalo News. "She loved God and taught us to do the same thing."

Another victim was Aaron W. Salter Jr., 55, a retired Buffalo police officer who was working as a security guard at the supermarket. He died in a gunfire exchange with Gendron. “Today is a shock. I’m pretty sure he saved some lives today. He’s a hero,” his son, Aaron Salter III, told The Daily Beast

On July 14, a federal grand jury returned a 27-count indictment against Gendron on federal hate crimes and firearm charges. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

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