Loved ones of Buffalo massacre victims speak on systemic racism

Buffalo, NY – inspired by racially motivated mass shooting In May that killed 10 black people and injured three others, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission held a hearing session in Buffalo on Monday to hear from loved ones of victims who pointed out in emotional statements that systemic racism has caused played a major role. Slaughter.

It was the first time since 2015 that the EEOC panel has met outside Buffalo. The panel’s chair, Charlotte A. Burroughs vowed to incorporate what the commission learned in his multi-year strategic enforcement plan.

“Like most of America, I mourn this tragedy and condemn the vicious attack that took place in Buffalo in May and it claimed the lives of 10 innocent people,” Burroughs said in an opening statement. “But to uncover the underlying injustice and racism that helps create the conditions for racially motivated violence and discrimination, we also need sustained, thoughtful and consistent action. Grief and anger are not enough.”

Photo: Members of the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission meet in Buffalo on August 22, 2022, and listen to the loved ones of those shot in the May 14 mass shooting at Topps Grocery Story in East Buffalo.

Members of the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission meet in Buffalo on August 22, 2022, and listen to the loved ones of those shot in the May 14 mass shooting at Topps Grocery Story in East Buffalo.

William D. Hutchinson/ABC News

Garnell Whitfield, a retired Buffalo fire commissioner whose mother, Ruth Whitfield, 86, was among those killed in a stampede at the Topps supermarket in East Buffalo’s predominantly black neighborhood, told the commission that racism didn’t suddenly backfire on May 14. To its ugly head.

“I just brought my lived experiences to share with you because I want you to know what it feels like to be traumatized like this, not only on May 14th, but every day of your life just the color of your skin.” Because of,” Whitfield said.

He said that as a teenager, he was wrongly accused of robbery and abuse by white police officers. He said a company officer in the fire department attempted to sabotage his ability to join the fire department in the 1980s.

Whitfield said that although he may appear successful on the surface, his reality is something else.

“The truth is, I, like every other black American, [am] A victim and survivor of racism, treated differently and placed under constant pressure to keep quiet and ignore the constant barrage of favoritism, implicit and otherwise, just to get along, just to fit in – and maybe one of the Get the piece—that’s called the dream, which you’ve been taught to believe in,” Whitfield said. “The problem is that reality keeps waking you up.”

He continued, “I thought it was important for you to know what we are going through. No matter what opportunity you give us, we come to that occasion with baggage, with trauma. Our communities have been traumatised. All the statistics, whatever you hear, it just doesn’t start on May 14. We’ve lived with this our whole lives.”

Zanetta Everhart, whose 20-year-old son Zaire Goodman was injured in the attack, also addressed the commission, saying, “It boggles my mind that I am saying to you today the same things black people have been saying for centuries. are.”

Photo: Zanetta Everhart, whose 20-year-old son, Zaire Goodman, was injured in the attack, addresses the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on August 22, 2022 in Buffalo.

Zanetta Everhart, whose 20-year-old son, Zaire Goodman, was injured in the attack, addresses the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on August 22, 2022 in Buffalo.

William D. Hutchinson/ABC News

“What’s happening in my community and communities across the country, like the East Side of Buffalo, is violence,” Everhart said. “Resource starvation, lack of education, poor health system, dilapidated housing, few job opportunities, food insecurity, limited transportation, redlining, not enough green space. No footpaths. This is violence.”

She said her son is now living with the consequences of decades of inequality and unchecked racism.

Everhart said, “The world we live in is by design. Systemic racism is a well-intentioned creation. That’s why it was so easy for a terrorist to find black people here in Buffalo and create terror.”

She said her son, who was working at Topps on the day of the attack, was shot in the neck and would live with shrapnel in his body for the rest of his life.

“He is left with the memory of feeling that his flesh has been torn from a bullet from an AR-15,” she said. “He is also left with the memory of seeing an elder in his community, who he says was a wonderful woman, shot to death in front of him as well as the memory of a dead body in the parking lot of the grocery store where he So, therapy will now be a normal part of her healing journey.”

But she also told the commission that her ability to stay strong comes from her son’s resilience.

“The way Zaire has handled all of this has empowered me to advocate for change,” Goodman said. “The first thing Zaire said to me after being shot while lying on the hospital bed was, ‘Mom, I knew I’d be fine.'”

She said, “He is resilient. Apart from going to the doctors, his first time out of the house was 15 days after the massacre and he wanted to go to the memorial in front of the top to plant flowers.”

She said her son is also happy that the Topps store, the only large grocery market in East Buffalo, has reopened.

“While he realizes that is the source of pain for so many in the community, he feels that the reopening of the shop shows the terrorist that he cannot destroy our community,” Goodman said.

Leave a Comment