‘Every small effort makes a difference:’ Volunteers clean up Jefferson Avenue in preparation of 5/14 remembrance ceremonies

BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – Tomorrow marks two years since the racist mass shooting at Tops of Jefferson Avenue that took 10 innocent lives and injured three others. Monday night a group of volunteers canvassed the area, cleaning up, in preparation for Tuesday’s remembrance ceremonies.

“Every small effort makes a difference and when you add these small elements together for the greater good, it moves the needle,” said Dewitt Lee III, the founder of St. Brian Clothiers.

“People really need to stand up and make a difference in this community and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said volunteer Robin Worthy.

Small steps to make a big difference, that’s what Lee and Worthy are doing. Equipped with a bag and flyers, they’re cleaning up around Jefferson Avenue and spreading a powerful message.

“This is about consistency. This is about maintaining a very high standard of awareness of what took place here,” said Lee.

It’s been two years since the mass shooting. As time passes, the healing continues.

“The pain, the pain that the community feels from the tragic loss, there’s still a lot of shock, a lot of pain,” said Lee.

“The pain is forever and that’s the hurting part, still today,” said Worthy.

Knowing people will be gathering on Jefferson Avenue, Lee wants to give them something meaningful to reflect on. Along with the poster saying “Jefferson Strong”, he’s hanging a piece of Kente Cloth.

“It represents royalty and we felt it was very fitting today to use these Kente cloth as ribbon and honor those who were taken from us who we consider to be royal in our community,” said Lee.

Remembering the victims of the Tops mass shooting, one year later

Over the past two years the Jefferson community proved they are strong, resilient and hopeful.

“I do see a rallying cry of this community making sure that a. that never happens again and b. we are able to reinvest in this Jefferson corridor here, making it a gem of the city,” said Lee.

“It’s numerous things that need to be done, but for anything to start it must begin, anything to begin it must start, so this is progress and as long as I see progress through the process, that’s an accomplishment,” Worthy said.

Other events Dewitt Lee III is organizing include:

May 14th – Jefferson Strong – Our Side of the City 
Community book Compilation Project  12pm – 7:30pm 
Merriweather Library inside the Dr. Eva Doyle Auditorium
1324 Jefferson Avenue Buffalo, NY

12pm – 2pm : Join us in the Dr. Eva Doyle Auditorium for a writing experience to help you create and submit an entry to be added to the book Jefferson Strong – Our Side Of The Story – guided by Queen Mother Dr. Eva Doyle and poet Robin Worthy.

3:30- 5pm : Continuation of community creativity writing exercises to create entries for the book Jefferson Strong – Our Side Of The Story moderated by published award winning author Dr. Silvia M. Lloyd.

5pm – 7:30pm : Documentary screening of the Tales from the Porch, Part II & photo exhibit by Aitina Fareed-Cooke, Buffalo Poet Laureate, founder of Get Fokus’d Productions.

Meet and Greet authors Mark Talley and Dr. Silvia M. Lloyd who have published books on the 5/14 tragedy. Reading, Discussion and community open mic.

Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.

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