They gathered together again, on storefront sidewalks, folding chairs, and small patches of grass, to remember.

On Tuesday, Buffalo marked two years since 10 residents were killed by a man who drove specifically to the Jefferson Avenue Tops to inflict violence and pain on a predominantly Black neighborhood, causing panic, fear, and heartache.

But this year, there’s movement towards building a permanent reminder of the lives lost, as the Tops store unveiled a memorial space and, on Monday, the governor and other officials announced the design for a permanent memorial honoring the 10 lives lost on May 14, 2022.

The Honor Space, in a corner of the Tops parking lot near Jefferson Avenue, is a park-like space designed by Buffalo artists Valeria Cray and her son Hiram, with 10 granite bollards honoring and naming each of the victims killed that day: Celestine Chaney, Roberta Drury, Andrew Mackniel, Katherine Massey, Margus Morrison, Rev. Heyward Patterson, Aaron Salter, Geraldine Talley, Ruth Whitfield and Pearl Young.

There is a placard in the memorial space explaining the events of that day, noting the hopes that the space will “serve the community as a place of honor, solace and reflection for all who visit. May it stand as a beacon of strength and inspire us to strive for a better world where we celebrate diversity and the richness that comes from different perspectives and experiences.”

The second anniversary of the racially-driven attack was also addressed in a letter sent to the families of those lost by President Joe Biden. “Two years later, we still share your community’s sorrow. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ending all forms of racial hatred. And we are still working relentlessly to end the epidemic of gun violence that has plagued our country for too long.”

On Monday afternoon, Gov. Kathy Hochul, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and the 5/14 Memorial Commission announced the final design of what will become a permanent memorial for those killed two years ago. The winning design, entitled “Seeing Us,” was designed by Jin Young Song and Douglass Alligood, features 10 “interconnected pillars”  in a circle, one for each person lost,  along with seven benches on the exterior of a rounded platform. The state has committed $5 million for the siting, design, and construction of the memorial.

The memorial “also features a sweeping support building which operates as a central hub for education, exhibitions, community activities, gatherings and events. Visitors will also find an elevated Memorial Walk on the roof of the support building,” according to a press release issued by the governor’s office.

“Our community and families continue to heal…We are a strong and resilient community, the City of Good Neighbors, and will continue to need ongoing support,” said New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “I commend Gov. Hochul, Mayor Brown, Rev. (Mark) Blue (Chairman of the 5/14 Memorial Commission), and the members of the 5/14 Commission for their efforts in selecting a memorial design to properly honor the lives and memories of those we lost to a senseless act of domestic terrorism.”

Councilmember Zeneta Everhart, whose son was among those injured in the attack and whose election to public office was largely inspired by the events of two years ago, said her son’s recovery is “a testament to the resilience of our community, but it’s also a stark reminder of the scars left by that tragic day on 5/14. As we honor the memory of those we lost and continue to support those who were injured and are still recovering, let us not forget the deep wounds that still linger in our city and community. The unveiling of the final design for the memorial is not just about erecting a monument; it’s about weaving together the threads of our collective grief and resilience into a tapestry of remembrance and hope. May this memorial stand as a beacon of unity and justice, reminding us all that we are stronger together in the face of racism, hatred and violence.”

The person who admitted to shooting the 10 people killed and others injured at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue two years ago has been convicted of the crimes and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Federal prosecutors announced earlier this year they are pursuing the death penalty in the federal case against the shooter.

Down the street from the Tops location, at the Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, dark blue flags have been placed, made by people from across Buffalo, with messages of hope, inspiration and unity, an effort announced by Mayor Brown just before his State of the City address a few weeks ago.  The flags are modeled after Tibetian prayer flags and were made by laying solid objects or printing words on a piece of fabric, which were then cured in a process similar to developing film, to leave white space on a dark blue field. Additionally, buildings throughout Buffalo were illuminated in orange on May 13 and 14, a color associated with gun violence awareness and prevention, in a sign of unity.

Current Memorial for 5/14 Victims

Gallery Credit: Amber Healey