Council of Bishops Statement on the Shooting at Tops Friendly Supermarket in Buffalo, New York

The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church stands in solidarity with the families of the Buffalo 10 and the grieving community as we raise your lament and demand justice. We are outraged. We are grieved. As we move out of Easter, into the Ascension, and onward to Pentecost, we will not continue to be snuffed out in silence. Things must change.

Once more, the Black community in the United States has been the target of murderous terror. On May 14, 2022, a hate-filled man set out to execute a premeditated white supremacist plot to “shoot all Blacks” at the Tops Friendly Markets grocery store on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo. Before he was apprehended, this man killed ten people: Aaron Salter, Katherine “Kat” Massey, Pearly Young, Heyward Patterson, Celestine Cheyney, Roberta Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackneil, Geraldine Talley, and Ruth Whitfield. Ruth Whitfield was a former member of Union AME Church, Warwick, New York before moving to Buffalo, New York.   Gunfire and the direct aftermath of this rampage injured three others: Zaire Goodman, Jennifer Warrington, and Christopher Braden.

Today, we pray that the families of those killed, the Buffalo community, those ministering directly to the community in this season, and all of us now grieving would be comforted. We thank the members of the Connectional African Methodist Episcopal Church who have supported Bishop Julius McAllister and Presiding Elder Paul Thomas. Since Monday, the Connectional Health Commission, the Bishop Henry McNeil Turner Connectional Chaplains Association, and the Council of Bishops have provided ground support, counseling, medicine, and other provisions for the residents of Buffalo.

While we express our heartfelt condolences to the families of those massacred, we also grieve, sharing in the deep sorrow and anger of the families and the Buffalo community that are changed forever through this horrific act of violence. This despicable act causes us to relive our collective pain of the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Given the killer’s detailed preparation and documentation, we know that all of us who are “Blacks” by his standards would have been suitable targets. We also know that this killer acted according to a virulent form of white supremacy rapidly shapeshifting to remain endemic and meet white Americans’ interests. Consequently, we respond to this violence as those who are under attack. Therefore, today, we pray that God will dismantle every act of antiblackness in whatever form it may come and give us the wisdom and courage to fight and win in this cause.

As we gird ourselves for this cause, we highlight the following aspects of the Tops massacre:

  • The shooting took place in Buffalo, a city that was a beacon of light for that fleeing enslavement before the Civil War and lynchings and economic exploitation in the 20th Century through the Great Migration. 
  • The internet provided the shooter with a radicalizing white supremacist community; the shooter publicized his hateful beliefs and actions using public platforms. The shooter is one of a growing number of people in the United States who believe in a conspiracy called ‘the great replacement theory.’  

Finally, we call on anyone with a moral conscience to respond to this call to acknowledge and dismantle white supremacy. We no longer live in a time when it is considered shameful to be racist. White supremacist fringe groups have risen to the mainstream of the Republican Party, and media outlets have normalized hate. Certain parts of the “Christian” church have been used to promote a so-called Christian Nationalism or Supremacy that promotes hatred in the name of God and suggests that a concern for the least of these is antithetical to the gospel. The time is now and must be used creatively to do right and tear down the cathedrals built for the worship of antiblackness and all forms of hatred.

The Council of Bishops
Bishop E. Anne Henning Byfield, President of the Council of Bishops and Chair of the Social Action Commission
Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Senior Bishop
Bishop Paul J. M. Kawimbe, President of the General Board
Bishop Francine A. Brookins, Chair of the Public Statement Committee
Mrs. Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Director/Consultant of Social Action 

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