The Buffalo Bills franchise and its players are supporting their community in the wake of last week’s horrific racist mass shooting at Tops Friendly Markets that killed 10 people and injured three others.
Bills players served food, handed out groceries, and placed flowers on shrines for the victims.
“The only thing we care about … I kind of compare it to one game at a time, like we’re here for our community and that’s it,” quarterback Josh Allen said this week. “And if people want to look at that and find ways to be enlightened or be acted upon where they see this and they want to start acting upon in their communities, I think that can work. But right now, we’re just here for our community and that’s all. That’s all that matters to us right now.”
The massacre ended when Gendron surrendered to police outside the store. He was charged with first-degree murder and held without bond.
Bills’ owners Kim and Terry Pegula met with head coach Sean McDermott, the front office, and team captains to determine how best to lend their support.
“The Buffalo community, they think highly of the Buffalo Bills, and so it is our job and our role to be here for the community, to be out here and be reachable, to be able to have these conversations,” running back and special teams captain Taiwan Jones said. “And in a moment like this the most important thing is just to show love. So, we wanted to come out here and just love on people, show people that we care, we feel for you.”
Acts of violence on Black communities and communities of color perpetrated by white men has been on the rise, and our nation’s political climate and discourse has only continued to sow seeds of discord.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) which monitors the activities of domestic hate groups and other extremists, points to white nationalist propaganda and a conspiracy theory known as the “great replacement” as the cause of this mass shooting.
“The attack in Buffalo is the direct result of white nationalist propaganda, specifically the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, being promoted and now mainstreamed by major public figures. This false notion — that white people are being systematically replaced by Black people, immigrants and Jews — has deep historical roots but has gained traction in recent years. And with that traction has come violence, both physical and political.”
In the aftermath of these tragic events, there is often no shortage of support. But what happens to the people in these communities in the months and years following? Their lives are never the same. For their part the Bills say their assistance is only the beginning.
“This is something that we all, the Bills included, the whole community, we gotta continue to rally around all the affected families,” general manager Brandon Beane said. “The national media is here for now, but there’s going to be another story soon. It’s up to us and we plan to lead the charge. This is not going to leave people’s lives in a month or a year. This is a lasting thing, and we gotta do our part.”
Gendron appeared in court on Thursday and was remanded into custody after a grand jury indicted him on a first-degree murder charge.