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Buffalo still healing 1 year after Tops grocery store shooting

One year later, the Buffalo community is reflecting on the emotional and socioeconomic remedies needed to heal after the Tops grocery store shooting.
Buffalo still healing 1 year after Tops grocery store shooting
Posted at 10:55 AM, May 12, 2023

It's been one year since nurse Trinetta Alston held the hands of survivors of the Top's grocery store massacre, and today, she's still holding those hands.

"I still check in with them, like three to four times a week," she told Scripps News. "They call me. They still know they have 24/7 access to me."

In the immediate aftermath of the racist attack that took the lives of ten Black residents, the need for more Black health care professionals like Alston, Dr. Kenyani Davis, and Dr. LaVonne Ansari was evident, with residents hesitant to open up due to the racial nature of the crime.

"Some of them who originally said they were fine have actually spoken out and said they actually, were not fine. Anxieties are setting in now, with the anniversary coming up," an anxiety Alston says they can't forget thanks to constant news coverage.

Davis says the onslaught of mass shootings across the country also forces residents to relive that day.

Since the tragedy, there have been more than 650 mass shootings across the U.S., according to the Gun Violence Archive

From a health care perspective, professionals say it's a frustrating reality.

"The city of Buffalo on May 14, and literally one month later was Uvalde. They hadn't even got out of their trauma yet," said Davis. "It truly is a public health concern. And any public health concern is a medical concern. And we still are not able to address this."

According to the Anti-Defamation League, in 2022, 21 of the 25 domestic extremist-related murders were linked to white supremacists.

SEE MORE: White supremacist gets life sentence for Buffalo supermarket massacre

Nearly half of those murders happened that day in Buffalo, with the shooter admitting to killing the victims because they were Black. It's especially traumatizing for residents and Black first responders, who Ansari says were often forgotten after the tragedy, caught in between two worlds.

"The Black police officers, the firemen, all of them are strongly impacted, but they're not getting the same help as the rest. So, we gotta make sure we take care of them" said Ansari, who'd met with them recently.

In March, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced $2.5 million in state funding. That, plus millions more in federal dollars, will go to mental health leaders to operate the Buffalo United Resiliency Center. The center is dedicated to meeting the physical and mental health needs of East Side residents and survivors.

"We had George Floyd, we had COVID, two blizzards that killed us, and slaughtered and massacred in a supermarket. Think about the impact that has had on a community of color — all within three years," reflected Ansari.

The tragedy did something else, too. It drew attention to the deadly consequences of redlining, a Jim Crow era method of systematically pushing Black people into certain neighborhoods, making the East Side grocery store the perfect target since it was the only one in the area.

Lots of promises have been made to improve the quality of life for residents, but the team here says systemic improvements, like adding more stores, takes time and real change.

"The conversations I'm having at some of these majority spaces is that you're expecting us to change something in a year that's been conditioned for over 400 years," said Ansari.

"God willing, in the next five years, Buffalo is in the national news as one of the best places to live because of its diversity and its way of life, and its innovation of blending the social needs, as well as the infrastructure for people to all thrive, so that Buffalo is the Buffalove, the Buffalo Renaissance we all talked about, but truly ensuring that is inclusive of everybody," said Davis.


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