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Sharpton, Peoples-Stokes call for more development on East Side

'If you can build a new stadium, you can build a new supermarket,' the Rev. Al Sharpton said Saturday in calling for change on Buffalo's East Side.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Saturday's funeral for 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, one of the 10 Tops mass shooting victims, included some strong pointed words from the Rev. Al Sharpton.

His message was directed at some of Buffalo's most influential leaders. The civil rights activist is calling for change on the East Side.

"He figured out the demographics of exclusion," Sharpton said. "We've got to break that down. I told the governor, just like they work with her about keeping the Bills here, building a new stadium. If you can build a new stadium, you can build a new supermarket.

"We're going to build a new Buffalo in the name of these 10. We want economic development right here in Buffalo."

Lawmakers from every level of government attended Saturday's service. New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes grew up with the Whitfield family and fought for the Tops Market to be built years ago.

"My heart is broken for all of the people who lost their lives at the Tops on Jefferson that I fought long and hard to get, because it was a food desert, and in a twinkle of a couple of bullets, it is a food desert again," Peoples-Stokes said during Saturday's service.

"So there is no way we will walk away from this without a lot of hurt, without a lot of pain, yes. But with clear direction that that has to change. That market must open."

It's unclear when, but we've heard from Mayor Byron Brown and from Tops that the plan is to reopen the store with a completely different look.

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