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Sun May 22, 2022, 02:48 PM

Buffalo Shooting Leaves Community With No Supermarket For Miles Around

Tops Friendly Market was more than a place to buy groceries. As the only supermarket for miles, it became a sort of community hub on Buffalo’s East Side — where you chatted with neighbors and caught up on people’s lives.

“It’s where we go to buy bread and stay for 15, 20 minutes because if you just go in for a loaf of bread, you’re going to find four or five people you know, we’re going to have a couple of conversations before you leave,” said Buffalo City Councilman Ulysees O. Wingo, who represents the struggling Black neighborhood, where he grew up. “You just feel good because this is your store.”

Now residents are grieving the deaths of 10 Black people at the hands of an 18-year-old white man who drove three hours to carry out a racist, livestreamed shooting rampage in the crowded supermarket on Saturday.

They’re also grappling with being targeted in a place that has been so vital to the community. Before Tops opened on the East Side in 2003, residents had to travel to other communities to buy nutritious food or settle for snacks and higher-priced staples like milk and eggs from corner stores and gas stations.

The fact that there are no other options lays bare the racial and economic divide that existed in Buffalo long before the shooting.

“People talked about the demographics, the income levels, the crime and other factors,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. “I felt that the money here was as green as the money anywhere, that there was a lot of money to be spent in this community and there were needs to be served.”

Wingo said it was no accident that the gunman chose the store to carry out the shooting.

“Knowing the density of African Americans on this side of the city and going to that Tops knowing that this side of the city is a food desert was intentional, it was deliberate, and it was evil,” Wingo said. “And we know that because he did reconnaissance the day before to ensure that there were Black folks there.”

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/buffalo-shooting-tops-closed-food-desert_n_6289156fe4b0edd2d0168d8d

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