Katherine “Kat” Massey was a strong advocate for civil rights and education for Buffalo’s Black community. On Saturday, white supremacist teenager Payton Gendron, who has been identified as the alleged shooter, killed her and nine others while they shopped in a supermarket in their predominantly Black neighborhood. It was the deadliest mass shooting of the year in the United States.
“We lost a powerful, powerful voice,” former Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant told The Buffalo News . One year ago, Massey (who also wrote for Buffalo Challenger and Buffalo Criterion) penned a letter advocating for more federal regulation of firearms. She was spurred by the escalating gun violence in Buffalo and other major U.S. cities, along with the recent killing of the cousin of Erie County Legislator April Baskin.
“There needs to be extensive federal action/legislation to address all aspects of the issue,” she wrote. “Current pursued remedies mainly inspired by mass killings – namely, universal background checks and banning assault weapons – essentially exclude the sources of our city’s gun problems. Illegal handguns, via out of state gun trafficking, are the primary culprits.”
Massey was also a member of We Are Women Warriors. Grant founded the group, which provides information to aid and educate families and the community on socio-economic, environmental, and criminal justice issues.
“Any life has worth and loss of any life is really bad for the family and the community and the City of Buffalo,” Grant said. “But to lose such a fighter, someone who was so eloquent … to lose that voice.”
The Buffalo shooting is the 198th mass shooting to take place in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive (via NPR), which tracks mass shootings where four or more people are shot or killed, not including the shooter.
It is also the latest in a string of racially motivated mass killings inspired by white supremacy theories worldwide. In November 2018, Robert Gregory Bowers entered Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, killing 11 people. In March 2019, Brenton Tarrant visited two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, gunning down 51 people and injuring 40 more. Five months later, a 21-year-old far-right gunman named Patrick Wood Crusius killed 23 people and injured 23 more at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.