Tops Friendly Markets said yesterday that it is partnering with the National Compassion Fund to create "the Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund," which it says will "provide direct financial assistance to the survivors of the deceased and those directly affected by this tragedy. Tops has seeded this Survivors Fund with $500,000 to get it started … One hundred percent (100%) of the contributions donated to this Survivors Fund will go directly to families of those deceased as well as those injured, and those who were present in the store and experienced psychological trauma."
The move comes after the May 14 mass killing of 10 people, and injuring of three more, at a Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue on the East Side of Buffalo, a predominantly Black neighborhood. The mass shooting has been described by law enforcement as rooted in a racist ideology called replacement theory, and federal authorities reportedly are considering filing hate crime charges.
The Buffalo News this morning reports that the 18-year-old self-described "white supremacist … considered dozens of other locations – including a Buffalo barbershop, a Syracuse shopping mall and a Rochester Walmart – before deciding the Jefferson Avenue supermarket would allow him to target the largest number of Black victims."
And CNN quotes Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia as saying that the evidence suggests the shooter had plans to move on from Tops to other locations and continue his rampage.
The Wall Street Journal writes this morning that the accused shooter's "extensive posts - a dark and paranoid monologue - present a portrait of a mass shooter that has become familiar in recent years: a lone actor, socially isolated and mentally troubled, who finds inspiration to commit mass violence in the recesses of the Internet … In the months leading up to the massacre," the story says, the accused shooter "spent hours glued to a computer in his family’s home in this quiet, predominantly white town in upstate New York. He posted dozens of hateful memes about Black people and Jews, discussed past racially motivated mass shootings and planned his own attack in painstaking detail. In March, he drove hundreds of miles to scout the Buffalo supermarket he later attacked.
He disdained mainstream political parties and the media, writing that he believed they were controlled by Jews. He described himself as a fascist."
- KC's View:
Distressing. Depressing. Disgusting. It is hard to find the words to describe the emotions that the events in Buffalo - and other, similar acts of domestic terrorism - prompt. And let's be clear, this is domestic terrorism that reflects the darkest impulses of the American psyche.
Think about what we're learning, and what it means for people who venture out to the nearby Walmart, the local barbershop, a regional shopping mall … in fact, to any place where people - especially people of color - gather. Because we know this is going to happen again. And again. And again.
To me, it raises so many red flags about elements of our culture over which we seem to have lost control: The proliferation of weapons in the hands of madmen and terrorists … the ways in which the internet and social media serve as a petri dish in which these attitudes are able to fester … the degree to which racial prejudice remain both the nation's original sin and continuing crime … and the kind of currency that terms like white supremacy, fascism, and replacement theory can gain in a society that should be better than this.
Kudos to Tops and the National Compassion Fund tor creating this Survivors Fund. My larger concern, in my bleaker moments, is whether the nation can survive the pestilence that threatens its core values.