Tops plans permanent 5/14 memorial; a separate memorial is planned by NYS and the City of Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Progress is being made to officially commemorate the 10 victims killed in the Tops mass shooting with a permanent memorial for the world to see. Members of a commission that will oversee the process were announced Friday.

The NAACP President Reverend Mark Blue will chair the commission. Commission members include Diane Colgan, senior vice president of Tops Friendly Markets; Jonathan Dandes, of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership; Dr. Norm Lewin, of the Buffalo Arts Commission; Larry Stitts, a Jefferson Avenue business owner and Garnell Whitfield, a former Buffalo City fire commissioner, with more members to be announced in the future.

After hearing from some of the families directly impacted by the mass shooting, a permanent memorial is something they want to see happen — not only so we never forget the lives taken, but also to root out racism.

For families who have suffered tremendous loss, bringing about a permanent memorial for the victims is one step in a long journey to bring about change, from gun reform to racism to societal changes on Buffalo’s East Side.

The memorial, which will be built near the Tops on Jefferson, will be a place of unity.

“It is my prayer that as we begin this journey it will provide the opportunity for our community to come together and love in a united effort that will honor all of those who have suffered under the weight and hate of white supremacy,” said Whitfield, the son of Ruth Whitfield, who was killed in the mass shooting.

Commission leaders say they will work with the families of the victims and the community to pick a design for the memorial.

“I’m not going to put a deadline on this, but this is something I want to see move quickly and I think that’s what we’re capable of here,” said Governor Kathy Hochul, “We want to do something where people will remember, a place to come and reflect, a place to honor and a place to say never again.”

A sign outside Tops where mementos were placed indicates Tops will build a separate memorial that’s expected in the summer of 2023.

“Just beautiful, beautiful things are coming out of a tragic event and this is another example of that,” said Zeneta Everhart, the mother of Zaire Goodman, who was shot and injured in the shooting.

She would like to see the memorial be an architectural bookcase, with not only the names of the victims, but their stories as well.

“I definitely want some sort of storytelling biographical component to it, whether that’s words edged in some stone or something or if it’s interactive that would be amazing,” Everhart said.

The 5/14 Memorial Commission says the memorial will be a ray of light for the nation to see.

The commission will now need to hold meetings. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says some of those meetings will be public.

“We want to work with the families and the community to design a fitting tribute to the lives that were lost and the horrific incident of May 14th,” Brown said, “We want to do it right, we want to make sure that it is a lasting memorial.”

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Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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