By Andrea Alvarez

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Thirteen people were shot and ten are now dead after a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York over the weekend. Police say the suspect, Payton S. Gendron, is an 18-year-old white male. Law enforcement is calling it a hate crime and say eleven of the victims are African American.

“You know, the events that happened in Buffalo, they’re not new. 6243121They’ve been happening for a long time,” said Rob West, a board member of the Tampa Black Heritage Festival. “And if we don’t talk about it, we’re going to keep repeating history. And it’s going to happen here.”

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Now, Tampa Bay black advocacy groups are speaking out about the racist attack.

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“Now I think of the stories my mother told me, my grandmother told me about racism and now I’m starting to be more aware of where I go, culturally. Do I go to a black supermarket? What’s my risk? If I go to church, am I checking the exits? If I go to a movie, am I checking the entrance?”

West says the issue stems from a lack of knowledge and that it needs to be addressed long term.

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“If you imagine a whole neighborhood or whole population thinking that way… how do we move forward as a society,” asked West. “Personally, I believe that people are not aware of other peoples’ culture.” He says with a continued conversation around hate crimes like this one, there could be a fighting chance. “The Tampa Bay region is very diverse and I encourage everyone to look into diversity. Look into culture.”