Tops Supermarket has re-opened, the alleged shooter, 18-year-old Peyton Gendron is now facing 26 charges that he purposely sought out a Black neighborhood to commit this atrocity and the horrible “great replacement theory” ideology continues to thrive in white supremacist circles months later. But families of the Buffalo shooting tragedy are understandably still mourning the loss of ten innocent lives.
On Monday, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provided a platform for loved ones to state how systemic racism was a factor in the shooting. Panel chair Charlotte A. Burrows said a multi-year enforcement plan is in the works.
“Like most of America, I mourned the tragedy and condemned that vicious attack in Buffalo in May. And it claimed the lives of 10 innocent people,” Burrows said in an opening statement. “But to illuminate the underlying injustice and racism that helps create the conditions for racially motivated violence and discrimination, we also need sustained, thoughtful and persistent action. Grief and anger are not enough.”
Retired Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell Whitfield whose 86-year-old mother, Ruth Whitfield, tragically died that day, spoke to the realization many Black people have to face down through generations. In his testimony, Whitfield stated he was wrongfully accused of robbery and abused by white police officers when he was a teenager. Even though he lived to be an older man, Whitfield still couldn’t enjoy the “dream of retirement” because racism was there to rob his peace.
“The truth is, I, like every other Black American, [am] a victim and survivor of racism, treated differently and put under constant pressure to be quiet and ignore the incessant barrage of biases, implicit and otherwise, just to get along, just to fit in — and just maybe get a piece of that so-called dream that you’ve been taught to believe in,” Whitfield said.
“The problem is, reality keeps waking you up.” “Our communities have been traumatized. All of the statistics, all of the things that you hear, this didn’t just start on May 14. We’ve been living with this our entire lives.”
Zaneta Everhart’s 20-year-old son Zaire Goodman survived the attack, but was wounded and has to live with shrapnel in his body for the rest of his life. Everhart’s testimony shows that violence goes beyond a racist person with a gun. Everhart highlighted the lack of affordable housing, lousy health care, and the run-down state Black communities have to live in as a form of ongoing racism.
“What is happening in my community and communities just like the East Side of Buffalo all across the country is violence,” Everhart said. “The starvation of resources, the lack of education, the poor health system, the dilapidated housing, few employment opportunities, food insecurity, limited transportation, redlining, not having enough green space. Not having sidewalks. This is violence.”