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Marking a year since the white supremacist mass shooting at a Buffalo Tops market

Charles Williams and shooting survivor Tasha Johnson, SEIU 1199, listen on Sunday as the bell sounds to remember the victims of last year's massacre at the Tops market in Buffalo.
Scott Fybush
/
WXXI News
Charles Williams and shooting survivor Tasha Johnson, SEIU 1199, listen on Sunday as the bell sounds to remember the victims of last year's massacre at the Tops market in Buffalo.

Sunday marked a year since a white supremacist gunman killed ten Black workers and customers at a supermarket on Buffalo's east side.

In the parking lot outside the Jefferson Avenue Tops, closed for the day of mourning, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown read out the names of the victims as the exact time of the shooting - 2:28 p.m. on May 14, drew near.

A Buffalo Fire Dept. bell sounds 10 times to mark the lives lost in a racist attack at a Tops market in Buffalo a year ago.
Scott Fybush
/
WXXI News
A Buffalo Fire Dept. bell sounds 10 times to mark the lives lost in a racist attack at a Tops market in Buffalo a year ago.

Political leaders, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, told the residents of the east side that they haven't been forgotten. Sen. Chuck Schumer said their voices have helped influence laws that he hopes will make a difference.

NY Gov. Kathy Hochul was among those taking part in Sunday's memorial ceremony for victims of last year's racist attack in Buffalo.
Scott Fybush
/
WXXI News
NY Gov. Kathy Hochul was among those taking part in Sunday's memorial ceremony for victims of last year's racist attack in Buffalo.

"There are hundreds of people alive today who would be dead,” Schumer said. “We improved the red flag laws so someone, a family member or others could go and say my brother, my sister, my child has a gun, take it away."

Schumer said activists from Buffalo have also helped push for new laws that would do more to keep those under 21 from buying assault weapons like the one used in Buffalo. He said the shooter, who was 18, would not have been able to get that weapon under a new state law passed after the attack.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), spoke at Sunday's memorial ceremony outside a Tops market in Buffalo.
Scott Fybush
/
WXXI News
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), spoke at Sunday's memorial ceremony outside a Tops market in Buffalo.

But it wasn't the words of politicians that drew tears on a sunny Sunday afternoon - a Mother's Day, no less.

It was the silence that spoke of the pain the community still suffers, and the fire department bell that sounded, ten times, for each one of the lives lost.

Tasha Johnson was in Tops that afternoon a year ago but escaped safely. She knew several of the victims, and her tears flowed as she listened to the bell ring.

"We are not going to let their deaths be in vain. They loved and lived with love and that's what we are going to continue to spread, love," she said.

Johnson attended with a group of workers from the SEIU 1199 union in Buffalo and Rochester. She also works on the streets of east Buffalo with a group called One Voice.

"We are here to hug on our people, love on our people, let those in our community know that no one stands alone. We are here to fight hatred."

The work, she said, will continue long after the ceremonies end.

You'll hear Scott in various capacities on WXXI either as a reporter, or hosting Morning Edition or All Things Considered.