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Hochul, Brown announce additional members appointed to serve on May 14th Memorial Commission


Tue, Mar 21st 2023 10:35 am

Five community members named to complete 11-member commission

Gov. Kathy Hochul and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown announced the appointment of additional members to the May 14th Memorial Commission.

A press release stated, “The commission was established in October 2022 by Gov. Hochul and Mayor Brown in response to the mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue. Buffalo NAACP President Rev. Mark E. Blue was previously named as chair of the commission, along with the initial appointment of five community members to serve on the commission.”

The May 14th Memorial Commission consists of 11 members, five appointed by the governor, five appointed by City of Buffalo mayor, and a chair jointly appointed by both.

The following community members were appointed, completing the 11-member commission:

√ Julia Bottoms, visual artist, Buffalo AKG Art Museum

√ Fragrance Harris Stanfield, assistant customer service manager, Tops Friendly Markets

√ Zeneta Everhart, director of diversity and inclusion for New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy

√ Steven A. Carmina, president, Carmina Wood Morris

√ Tiffany Gaines, curatorial and digital content associate, Burchfield Penney Art Center

They join Diane Colgan, senior vice president, Tops Friendly Markets; Jonathan Dandes, board member, Buffalo Niagara Partnership; Dr. Arthur Norman Lewin, appointee, Buffalo Arts Commission; Larry Stitts, owner, Golden Cup Coffee; and Garnell Whitfield, former fire commissioner, Buffalo Fire Department – each appointed last year.

"We will never forget our 10 neighbors in Buffalo who were senselessly taken from us in a horrific, racist act of terror, and we are committed to continuing to support east Buffalo as the community heals," Hochul said. "I'm thankful for the members of the May 14th Memorial Commission who have dedicated themselves to creating a permanent memorial that will honor the lives and legacies of those we lost, while further demonstrating the strength and resiliency of this community."

Brown said, "As our City continues to heal from the Tops mass shooting, we remain committed to memorializing the lives that were tragically taken from us. These additional members appointed to the May 14th Memorial Commission bring wide arrays of expertise that will be extremely valuable as we work toward a meaningful tribute. I applaud each of the commission members for their willingness to serve our community, and I thank Gov. Hochul for her commitment in ensuring the success of this important project."

Blue said, "I am honored to welcome these dedicated individuals to the May 14th Memorial Commission as we continue working to unite our community through remembrance. My hope for this commission is to ensure the memorial erected serves as a lasting tribute to the innocent lives lost, and a lighthouse for those healing from immense grief."

The commission will develop and implement a plan to site and build a physical memorial in east Buffalo to memorialize the life and legacy of the 10 Black residents of Buffalo who died in the criminal act last year. The members will be assigned to a subcommittee that will meet separately and report back to the full body.

The commission will focus on the following topics:

√ Siting and acquiring land

√ Community and family engagement plans

√ Architect selection and design concepts

√ Memorial maintenance and area beautification

New York state and the City of Buffalo previously announced an intention to make specific financial commitments to the project in the future, with the amount to be determined based on scope and scale of project recommended by the commission and in concert with state legislative partners.

Those lost during the May 14 mass shooting were Pearl Young, Ruth Whitfield, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackniel, Aaron Salter Jr., Geraldine Talley, Katherine Massey, Roberta A. Drury, Heyward Patterson and Celestine Chaney.

Following the event at Tops Friendly Markets, Hochul announced $50 million of targeted investments as part of the state's ongoing efforts to address the immediate needs of the community. Her team said New York state will continue to coordinate with city, county, philanthropic and business partners, and grassroots leaders to address long-term needs in the community.

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