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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Abe Asher

Buffalo grocery store where massacre took place reopens as shooter charged with hate crimes

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The grocery store in Buffalo, New York where ten Black people were killed by a white gunman re-opened for the first time on Friday.

On 14 May, ten people died and three people were wounded in the massacre at the Tops Friendly Market in the largely Black neighborhood in East Buffalo.

A moment of silence and prayers were held on Thursday at the market in advance of the Friday reopening.

The grocery store has long been the only full-service supermarket in the neighborhood and its closure had a significant impact on residents.

Buffalo is among the most heavily segregated cities in the United States, and the alleged shooter, Patyon Gendron, told authorities that he targeted the neighborhood because of its racial demographics.

Gendron drove more than three hours from his home in Conklin, New York, near the Pennsylvania border, to perpetrate the attack, allegedly motivated by white supremacy.

On Thursday, a federal grand jury indicted Gendron on charges including hate crimes, which are punishable by the death penalty.

The teenager, who is also facing state charges, has pleaded not guilty.

According to the Associated Press, the reopening of grocery store has been controversial with some advocating for the site to be turned into a park or recreation center. Others, however, believe that the store’s place in the community is worth hanging onto.

“The store is there for a reason. The store is still there for a reason,” longtime Tops employee Rosalie Bishop, 58, told the AP. “The people will come back. They might not come today or tomorrow, but they will come back.”

Buffalo mayor Byron Brown concurred, writing in a statement that the reopening of the store is a step in the community’s healing process.

“As I walked into the market recently to see the total physical overhaul, I felt a bit apprehensive at first, and I think that’s a very normal reaction. But seeing the great work Tops has done to completely redo and upgrade the entire store interior, I felt much better, and I believe those significant changes will be helpful to others who have relied on this store as ‘their Tops’ for many years,” the statement read.

The grocery store has been remodelled in the wake of the attack with a new floor plan and added safety features.

Mr Brown also noted that his administration is aware that a number of East Buffalo residents will not feel comfortable returning to the store, and that they’re working with “other food retailers in the community to help them serve East Buffalo residents and grow their businesses”.

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