Buffalo mayor addresses economic impact of mass shootings

During a House subcommittee hearing last week on the economic impact of mass shootings on local communities, Buffalo, New York Mayor Byron Brown testified about the aftermath the supermarket shooting in May that killed 10 people and injured three.

Since the shooting, the city has spent more than $500,000 on ‘police, fire, sanitation [and] other city services,” Brown told ABC News, in addition to the financial impact on businesses, families of victims and survivors, and other unforeseen costs. Kathy Hochul announced an investment of $50 million destined for East Buffalo, where the shooting took place.

Brown spoke with ABC News about the emotional and financial impact of the Buffalo shooting, which he says has yet to receive any federal support, the reopening of the Tops supermarket and the community’s reaction to the following what law enforcement authorities described as racist. motivated violence.

GMA3: Welcome to GMA3, everyone. Buffalo, New York, Texas, an elementary school there, a 4th of July parade in Illinois. You know what I’m talking about here. We’re talking about the series of mass shootings we’ve seen. They continue, it seems, in this country, and it profoundly affects the communities in which they occur. And last week, a congressional subcommittee hearing addressed not only the devastating loss of life from these events, but also the long-term economic impact these communities often experience. I want to bring in now somebody who testified at the hearing, Buffalo, New York, Mayor Byron Brown. Mayor, thank you very much for being here. And I know we can get into some numbers and statistics and so on, but I just want to start by talking to you from the heart for a second. How is your community doing?

BROWN: You know, it was very painful for our community. People are traumatized. We are healing, wrapping our arms around each other and doing all we can to get through this most painful time in our community.

GMA3: Mr. Mayor, can you tell me, I saw that you spent almost half a million dollars that you didn’t expect to spend in the weeks following the shooting. It just has to do with the vital services that were needed, the overtime for a lot of your people in the community, your police officers, your fire department. Are you getting what you need? I know the federal government often promises and wants to be there to help you, but are you getting the kinds of resources and financial resources that you need in your community right now?

BROWN: We have these conversations. We have not obtained any financial resources from the federal government at this stage. I sent the message that I strongly believe communities that have experienced mass shootings there should receive federal financial support; in this case, an act of domestic terrorism fueled by racism and white supremacy. The impact has been very devastating for this community financially. On May 14, when the shooting happened and in the two weeks that followed, the city spent more than half a million dollars – police, fire, sanitation, other municipal services. And that price has been going up ever since.

And so the economic impact is significant, not only on the unbudgeted costs to the municipality, but on the families, on the survivors, on the surrounding community and on the businesses in the community around the Tops supermarket.

GMA3: Mr. Mayor, have you obtained a commitment that this money will arrive?

BROWN: The federal government has been very responsive. President Biden came here to Buffalo. Vice President Harris came here. Attorney General Merrick Garland traveled to Buffalo. We had several meetings in Washington.

And I hope the federal government will step in, see the dire need in this community, and financially support the needs of the residents, the families of the victims, the survivors of the shooting, and the town itself.

GMA3: We talked about [the fact] that Tops Grocery, the supermarket, was a vital part of the community. It was one of the few grocery stores that serve so many people in this area. And the subcommittee heard testimony about declining property values ​​and declining business activity in cities in areas where there were mass shootings. How did this community begin to recover in this aspect? Has it become a lively place again? I know the supermarket has reopened.

BROWN: The supermarket reopened on July 15. Every day since the supermarket reopened, the parking lot is full. A strong message that hate will not win, that love in community will defeat hate. People show that they want the supermarket open, they need the supermarket, and they are ready to come back to the supermarket.

Of course, some people [feel] uncomfortable to return to this place because of the horrible tragedy. Ten people killed, three injured. We’ve partnered with a company called Instacart to expand home delivery from the supermarket and to expand grocery pickup from the supermarket. So we are doing everything we can to not let these alarming statistics about the horrific impacts of mass shootings take hold in the Buffalo community.

Like I said, people rally together. There were food distributions, concerts, marches, rallies, anything we can think of to keep the community together and send a message to the nation and the world that evil will not win, that hate won’t win and white supremacy won’t win.

GMA3: Mayor, you said two things that jumped out at me. Keep the community together, and they rallied around each other. But how can you take this moment and again, when you talk about unity in times like this I know you’re tired of hearing it but Buffalo has always for a long time been one of the most racially segregated from this country. And there are long-suffering brown and black communities there. How can you take advantage of this moment now and do something about it? And how can you do something to bridge this gap and divide in your community? Because many will say your community was targeted in the first place because of this segregation. The shooter actually looked for a place where there was a high percentage of African Americans. It ended in your community.

BROWN: The shooter attacked Black Buffalo. But many people we heard from across the country believe this was an attack on black America, because the goal of this racist white supremacist shooter was to kill as many black people as possible. And so it could have happened anywhere in the country, anywhere in the state where there was a high concentration of black people.

So we must focus on defeating white supremacy, making it impossible for white supremacy to proliferate. But our goal now is to rebuild East Buffalo, the black community of Buffalo, the city of Buffalo, better and stronger than ever, to hopefully get resources from the federal government, from our state government.

Governor Kathy Hochul has already committed more than $50 million for East Buffalo. So we will use those resources and work with the community to invest heavily in making this community better, stronger, and more united than it was before.

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