“What  are We Supposed to Do With All this Pain?” Community Collectively Mourns Victims of Racist Fueled Massacre

( above artistic rendering by John Paul Moore / @jpdesignsart )

The victims of the racists fueled massacre: Celestine Chaney, 65 / Heyward Patterson, 67 / Ruth Whitfield, 86 / Roberta A. Drury, 32 / Geraldine Talley, 62 / Andre Mackniel, 53 / Pearl Young, 77 / Aaron Salter Jr. , 55 / Katherine Massey, 72 / Margus D. Morrison, 52

“What are we supposed to do with all this  anger?” cried Garnell  Whitfield…”all this pain?”

That was the question  the former Buffalo Fire Commissioner  tearfully asked  during a press conference several days ago in the wake of the tragic death of his  86-year-old mother, Ruth Whitfield. She  was among 10  beloved community members  who were  stalked and murdered in cold blood during one of the nation’s worst acts of racist domestic terrorism. 

It all  took place last Saturday on a sunny afternoon at Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue in the heart of the  Black community; the only major supermarket in what is otherwise a “food desert.”

Jimmie Smith echoed Whitfield’ pain  during a broadcast on CNN when he spoke on behalf of Pearl  Young,  the 77-year-old steadfast member of Good Samaritan  Church of God in Christ Who ran a food pantry for  25 years.

“We are upset, we are angry and we are hurt,” quoting scripture: “Test not My Anointed and my prophets no harm…”

“Some of us are tired of marching, tired of  begging, this is evil…this is wicked” he said noting the killer’s plan was to take as many Black lives as he could. “He had an agenda but we’ve had enough. Buffalo is not a weak city. We are people of faith and prayer, just like Mother  Pearl Young. “

 The grief has been   unbearable for many. The suddenness of it all. The violence.  The losses compounded by the fact that their loved ones, only crime was the color of their skin.   

The 18-year-old  racist, Payton S. Gendron,  came to kill as many Black people as possible.

The shock and outrage over his evil attack was only compounded by the actions of law enforcement during his arrest  after the  shooting. An already traumatized  community looked  on in disbelief as police handled the killer more like he was a petty thief, rather than having just executed and live streamed a  massacre.

 NYS Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples, when asked by a reporter what she thought of the community’s criticism of the way the situation was handled, recalled a recent incident her own nephew recently encountered during a traffic stop.

 She said her nephew told her he  was  mortified to see him (the killer) untouched, hair and clothes in place. He said he  was stopped for a traffic violation. He was slammed to the ground.  And ‘this guy’ stood there like he stole a loaf of bread. 

“So that does bring hurt to people because we experience this racist way services are delivered to us on a regular basis,” said Peopes-Stokes. ” So there’s’ a lot room for hurt here.  Not just for the loss of the families and what they’re going through;  the fact is that racism is real and there’s still a lot of people who don’t want to admit that it’s real.”

Most felt that unlike Gendron, a Black shooter would not have survived the attack by law enforcement.

-Speaking Truth to Power-

To a person, almost every community member interviewed  by local and national news media, spoke up and spoke out. Articulate and on point, they did not mince words and kept it real.  The news outlets in general were balanced  in their reporting. A May 16 New York Times  report is a perfect example. Kudos to all those who were interviewed:

The suspect in the massacre, Payton S. Gendron, 18, embraced White supremacist ideas in a 180-page document posted online before the attack and named his top goal as killing as many Black people as possible, the authorities said. Mr. Gendron pleaded not guilty on Saturday night.

In the document, he said he would travel hours to Buffalo from the Southern Tier of New York. And while he wrote that he hoped for the toll to be much larger, the damage inflicted was immense.

“People are going to try to excuse it as this person not being from Buffalo — they’ll say things like ‘This is not who we are,’” said J. Coley, a Ph.D. student and instructor in the University at Buffalo’s sociology department. “I just want to be clear that this is exactly who Buffalo is. It doesn’t matter that we have a Black mayor. This is still a place of anti-Black racism.”

 Buffalo has been marked by severe segregation for decades, offering an extreme example of the plight that Black people in many deeply divided urban centers have suffered. In 1991, one analysis found the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metro area was the fourth-most segregated in the United States; a study published two decades later found it ranked as the nation’s sixth-most segregated.

We hope to provide a  more complete update next week as well as photos by Darvin  Adams and Street Legacy!  Please pray for the families during this dificult and painful  time.  

As a token of our love and support, obituaries of the innocent lives that were lost   will be published at no charge. They can be emailed to editorial@thechallengernews.com or mailed to: The Challenger 1337 Jefferson Ave. Buffalo 14208.