MEMPHIS, Tenn.– The Memphis NAACP held a news conference Tuesday to condemn the Buffalo mass shooting and call on the community to take a stand against hate crimes.
Devastation following a deadly supermarket attack believed to be racially motivated in Buffalo, New York is sending shockwaves to Memphis.
“What made this so particularly painful was that the young man targeted African Americans,” said NAACP Memphis President and County Commissioner Van Turner.
Authorities say 18-year-old Payton Gendron shot and killed 10 people and injured three others Saturday at Tops Friendly Market.
The victims ranged from 20 to 86.
“These are people that had families, loved ones, people that are in real big pain right now because of the racism that exists in our country,” said Chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party Gabby Salinas.
The Memphis Branch of the NAACP came together with community members to stand in solidarity against racism and violence.
“We see what’s happening in this society and we will not, we shall not, we’ve come too far now, we’ve come too far to turn around,” said Keith Williams, the executive director of the Memphis and Shelby County Education Association.
New data from the FBI shows in 2020 Hate crimes climbed in Arkansas and Mississippi while dropping in Tennessee. The most prevalent crimes are anti-black and anti-white followed by anti-gay.
NAACP President and County Commissioner Van Turner said the group is an ally to those in need.
“There is no justification for it, so we’ll stand with any community that’s been affected by mass shootings any community that’s being targeted because of their race, gender, or religion,” Turner said.
He’s calling on the government for help.
“If we have sensible gun laws, and if we do more to address mental health. I think we can hopefully see these tragedies go down or not occur in the first place,” Turner said.
The NAACP said they plan to send letters to the governor and lawmakers in Nashville to bring change. They also want people to flood the lines of communication with phone calls and emails to state lawmakers and others so they will pass legislation to tackle mental health and stricter gun laws.
They’re inviting the public to their meeting at Mount Olive CME Church on Thursday, May 26th.