Tops Friendly Markets, the Buffalo supermarket where Payton Gendron killed 10 Black people and injured several others has reopened its doors Friday, with hopes that residents will return.
The renovated supermarket will be equipped with enhanced video monitoring systems, an emergency evacuation audio/visual alarm system, additional emergency exits, as well as increased professional security inside and outside of the store.
But terrorism has lasting effects and a community that was devastated by a racist man with an assault rifle must now find a way to get past the fear and trauma just to get groceries.
The constant lurking of fear can consume a community once it’s torn apart by violence, Buffalo is no different. According to CNN, community members are still traumatized by the deadly massacre and some say returning to the Tops store may not be something they can do.
“I think there will be people who don’t want to go there and will never go there again,” former Buffalo fire commissioner, Garnell Whitfield told CNN. “But convenience and necessity take over and that store will be a viable part of that community.”
Residents also say they are so fearful of another attack that even a random white person walking through the neighborhood makes them uneasy.
Liz Bosley a community activist in Buffalo told CNN that, “Some wish Tops would have demolished the store and rebuilt it so people wouldn’t have to relive the devastation.”
Regardless of the fear, Tops Friendly Markets is still an important part of Buffalo’s nearly all-Black East Side neighborhood. The store originally opened its doors in 2003, giving more than 113,000 residents who had been living in a ‘food desert,’ access to a full-service supermarket.
Community leaders have acknowledged that getting the community comfortable with the supermarket they once loved will be tough, but its reopening is proof that love overcomes hate.
“This is the day when we declare that hate did not win, said New York State Attorney General Letitia James during the supermarket’s opening ceremony on Thursday. “[The day] that hate was defeated, that hate has no place in east Buffalo or Buffalo or the great state of New York.”
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