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Peoria NAACP vocalizes need to confront racism after racially-motivated Buffalo grocery store shooting

A crowd gathers as police investigate a shooting at a supermarket on Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y.
Joshua Bessex
A crowd gathers as police investigate a shooting at a supermarket on Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y.

The suspect in Saturday's mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, which left 10 people dead and three injured, was driven by white supremacist and racist ideologies, NPR reports.

Reverend Marvin Hightower is the president of the Peoria NAACP branch. Hightower said this shooting was not an isolated incident.

"The initial reaction is 'here we are again. It’s happened again.' Even though it shocked us, it doesn’t surprise us because of where we are in our country," Hightower said on behalf of the Peoria NAACP.

Hightower said the United States can no longer be oblivious to the fact that racism is alive and well.

“We need to confront it [racism] as a country more than just saying it. Really confront it, not erase it. We need to teach about it. We need to learn its history so that we can get to the root cause and so that we can really move forward in a real way,” Hightower said.

The white gunman who targeted the 13 victims in Buffalo said online before the attack he was planning to target Black people.

In response to this, Hightower said citizens and leaders alike need to be vigilant about addressing racist ideas that fuel hate crimes.

“We need to call upon our leaders on both sides of the aisle just as they cry about cancel culture. This is the ultimate cancel culture. You’re canceling somebody’s life because of racist ideology," Hightower said. "So, we need leaders on both sides to talk about it, put it on the forefront.”

Hightower said people need to take an honest look at what’s happening in the United States, not only looking at racially motivated hate crimes but the constant struggles people of color are still facing.

“We are also, in a lot of ways, going backwards. The Voting Rights Act was not refined or even addressed or voted down. We haven’t even come to a vote. That’s one thing that levels the playing field because our vote is our voice,” Hightower said.

Hightower said it is important for people to always be aware of their surroundings, citing the Buffalo shooting and the nearly 200 other mass shootings reported so far this year in the United States.

Jordan Mead is a reporting intern at WCBU. She joined the station in 2021.