Updated Jul 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Buffalo grocery store reopens two months after mass shooting

Tops Friendly Markets President John Persons speaking inside Tops

Tops president John Persons is interviewed at Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue on Thursday in Buffalo. Photo: John Normile/Getty Images

Two months after a white teenager killed 10 Black people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities say was a racially motivated hate crime, the store where the attack occurred reopened on Friday.

Driving the news: The event has been met with mixed feelings by community members. Some believe the market should have been converted into a different type of venue. Others maintain that Tops, the lone grocery store in the area, remains an essential resource for the community, AP reported.

  • Local leaders and community members gathered at the Tops Friendly Market for a moment of silence and prayer service on Thursday. The event honored the victims, workers and community members impacted by the attack, the grocery store said in a press release.
  • The store’s employees handed out carnations to customers as they entered the renovated and reopened space Friday morning. They also distributed 20o gift cards, AP reported.

What they're saying: "The reopening of the completely renovated Tops is a major step forward in our efforts to heal and build our community back stronger than ever," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said in a statement.

  • "None of us will ever forget the cruel, racist attack on the Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue and our hearts will need time to heal from the emotional wounds it inflicted on our community," Brown added.

The other side: Among those against reopening the store this soon was Count Horne.

  • The 54-year-old activist and retired Buffalo police officer told AP that she thought reopening the store was “more about putting people to work rather than letting them heal. … Just two months ago, these people were running for their lives.”

Despite the criticism, Tops president John Persons said most residents of the surrounding area, as well as the store’s employees, wanted to see its doors open again.

  • “I’ll be honest, those are the people that we really wanted to listen to, the people that were in the neighborhood, the people that were in the Jefferson Avenue neighborhood and the immediate community to find out what their thoughts were," Persons said, per AP.

Go deeper: Remembering the victims of the Buffalo mass shooting

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