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United Black Legislative Caucus Issues Statement on Racially Motivated Mass Shooting in Buffalo

Monday, May 16, 2022

St. Paul, MN – On Saturday May 14th, ten people were killed and three injured during a mass shooting at a supermarket on Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, New York. The gunman, according to the Buffalo police commissioner, had planned the deadly shooting and has ties to white supremacy.

The Minnesota House United Black Legislative Caucus released the following statement:

“The devastating news out of Buffalo this weekend is another example of the unrelenting trauma our communities have experienced for centuries. There are no words to express the profound grief and pain with ten innocent people brutally killed, three innocent people injured, and a surrounding Black community forever changed, all motivated by senseless hate. As reports continue to come out, it is alleged that the suspect published a 180-page document that repeats a series of white supremacist ideologies and racist conspiracy theories referred to as the “Great Replacement” as justification for a premeditated plan to search out Black people and murder them. 

It is further alleged that he drove more than two hundred miles and sought a site with a high Black population to carry out the white supremacist terrorist attack to take as many Black lives as possible. 

In 2020, the Minnesota House became the first legislative body in the nation to declare racism a public health crisis with the passage of House Resolution One creating the House Committee of Racial Justice. When we say racism is a public health crisis, it is because we have watched Black people in our communities targeted for the color of their skin with deadly consequences in our lifetimes. When we talk about the trauma and turmoil Black people have experienced in this country, we often gloss over the legacy of mass killings of Black people based on hate. Whether we are looking historically at the horrific massacre in the Tulsa community of Greenwood where as many as three hundred Black Americans were killed, or the more recent massacre in Charleston, South Carolina where nine Black people were killed during a bible study at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church the trauma and terror continue for our communities. 

These types of hate crimes, too numerous to name all, are designed to send a message to the entire Black community that you are a target for an immutable characteristic of the color of your skin and that you are unwelcome, you are not valued, you are hated, and you and your loved ones are unsafe. Mass killings of Black people motivated by hate have a long history in this country and we must remember behind these heartbreaking headlines there are real people and real families devastated. Today we remember and honor:

Aaron Saltar, a 55-year-old beloved community member, father, and a security guard who remembered the shoppers of Top’s Friendly Market by name. He was a retired Buffalo Police officer. He is described as a true hero who saved lives.

53-year-old, Andre Mackneil was in town visiting relatives and was picking up a surprise birthday cake for his grandson. He never came home. He loved surprising his grandson. He was a loving and caring person who was always there for his family.

Ruth Whitfield was 86. A beloved wife, mother, and grandmother. She was also the mother of the retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner and primary caretaker of her husband and was coming back visiting him at a nursing home when she was killed. She was the glue that held her family together.

Pearl Young was 77. She was a member of Good Samaritan Church of God in Christ for over 50 years. She was family person and loved being happy and making others happy. She ran a weekly food pantry. She was a mother, grandmother, and a missionary. 

Roberta Drury was 32. She had recently returned home to help her brother recover from a bone marrow transplant. She often shopped for her brother and his family as he recovered from leukemia. She had the ability to make the whole room smile and laugh. 

Katherine Massey was 72. Her family called her a beautiful soul. She was a writer for local Buffalo newspapers and a member of the community group Women Warriors working to tackle youth violence organizing masks and PPE drives in Buffalo. 

Heyward Patterson, 67, was a deacon at nearby church. He had stopped by the church’s soup kitchen before heading to the supermarket, where he offered an informal taxi service driving people home with their bags. A pastor from his church shared, from who he understood, he was assisting someone putting groceries in their car when he was shot and killed. He was a man that loved the community just as much as he loved the church. 

Celestine Chaney was 65, who was a Breast Cancer survivor whose family encouraged people to wear pink ribbons in her honor. She was a grandmother to six and a great-grandmother. Her family described as the sweetest person you could meet. 

Margus Morrison was 52 years old and from Buffalo. He was the father of three children. 

Geraldine Talley was 62 years old and from Buffalo. 

We also remember Zaire Goodman (26), Jennifer Warrington (50), and Christopher Braden (55) who were wounded in the attack. 

As people of faith, our prayers are with the families and the community. As elected people of action, we call on our colleagues in our state senate and the Walz administration to declare racism a public health crisis and to commit to working to advance the numerous bills in our United Black Legislative Caucus agenda that will ensure that our state is not a safe harbor for white supremacist ideology or hate.”