BUFFALO BLUES: High Murder Rate, Low Clearance Cops

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Marcus Spain waited in his car at the corner of Johnson and Genesee on Buffalo’s east side for a blind date with ex-girlfriend Naudia Martin on March 14, 2021.

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Around one corner is an abandoned Burmese grocery store, across the street is a car detailing yard, and finally, across Johnson Street, is a house posing as a junkyard. .

At around 4:30 a.m., Spain, 29, joined the heartbreaking list of other young black men. He was shot in his car.

In his case, after a public appeal, the cops made the arrests.

Martin, 22, and her new boyfriend Cortez Foster, 31, were charged with Spain’s murder just before Christmas.

Naudia Marvin and Cortez Foster are charged with Spain's murder.  BUFFALO FONT
Naudia Marvin and Cortez Foster are charged with Spain’s murder. BUFFALO FONT

“The man responsible was out on bail when he decided to take my son’s life,” Spanish mother Robyn Gerow said. The Toronto Sun.

“My son was a man of heart, father of two children. He was thriving in his life, he had a job and was ready to take his first paid vacation. He struggled a lot, but life was getting better for him and he was so excited.

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For generations, Canadians have flocked to the Peace Bridge that connects Fort Erie to Buffalo for concerts, drinks, dinners (chicken wings), sports, shopping or visiting friends.

But in the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city’s murder rate has skyrocketed. Although the numbers are a far cry from the explosion of homicides sparked by the crack wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s, they are nonetheless alarming.

Bridge of Peace.  POSTMEDIA
Bridge of Peace. POSTMEDIA

More troubling is that Buffalo Police detectives only close about 25% of murders – among the worst rates in America. Apparently, that’s not something the BPD is very interested in talking about.

While individual detectives have expressed a desire to speak with The sunpolice bureaucracy torpedoed the view of a street.

In 2021, there were 57 homicides in the city of 249,000 (1.1 million in the metro area) compared to 41 in 2015. Numerous murders were committed in East Buffalo and most of them were are in a geographical area of ​​a handful of blocks. .

By comparison, with about 2.8 million residents, Toronto recorded 85 homicides in 2021.

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“When we talk about homicide, it’s a generalization, but there are roughly two types: street gang-related murders and domestic servants,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said. The sun. “That’s the view from 30,000 feet…our fix rate for domestics is about 100%, that’s the first one we’re having trouble with.”

Flynn – DA since 2017 – said inter-gang violence was the problem. The killers are a small group of people who “walk around killing young, mostly African-American men.”

As president-elect of the National District Attorney Association, Flynn said the spike in murders was not limited to Queen City.

Eric County District Attorney John Flynn is optimistic for Buffalo.  ERIE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Eric County District Attorney John Flynn is optimistic for Buffalo. ERIE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

“For solvency, one of the biggest issues is the ‘don’t report’ philosophy where people won’t call the police no matter what,” Flynn said.

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The DA said some witnesses had a legitimate fear of reprisal if they spoke to the cops. In other cases, it’s a 200-year-old distrust of law enforcement in the African-American community that’s “understandable,” he said.

“There’s been some not-so-great history here and there,” Flynn said, adding that the genesis of law enforcement began in the antebellum before the American Civil War, and their primary duties were to catch escaped slaves.

Photos of uniformed law enforcement officers during the civil unrest of the 1950s and 1960s didn’t help.



Arrests in Marcus Spain’s murder have not eased his family’s pain.

“My son (for the record) was not in a gang, he was (allegedly) murdered by her son’s mother’s new boyfriend,” Robyn Gerow said, adding that she understood the reluctance to turn to the cops.

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“There are parents here who know who killed their child, and they won’t go to the police. Same with siblings – they know who did it, but won’t report it.


Buffalo was once one of America’s largest and most prosperous cities, but since 1960 the city’s population has halved. The steel mills and factories that fueled the growth of a prosperous middle class began closing in the 1970s, moving their operations to the unorganized South or overseas.

Many African Americans moved to Buffalo to work in the mills and factories beginning in the 1920s and many of the factories that made them prosper were on the East Side.

Another murder scene on Buffalos East Side.  SCREENSHOT/ WIVB
Another murder scene on Buffalos East Side. SCREENSHOT/ WIVB

Suddenly, within a few years and just like other towns in the Rust Belt, Buffalo began a long downward slide, hitting rock bottom during the crack epidemic.

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“When those jobs disappeared, poverty came and it increased tenfold,” Flynn said.

But lately, things have become clearer. The city grew in population for the first time in decades, and young people and high-tech companies were attracted by low housing prices and the affordability of doing business in the old city.


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“There has been a concerted effort by law enforcement over the past 25 years to bridge the gap between communities and police,” Flynn said. “And we are progressing.”

The DA was quick to point out that Buffalo is not dangerous, with the violent crime rate plummeting and in “90 percent” of the city’s homicides, the killer and victim know each other.

“We could go to the East Side tonight at 10 for beers and wings and we’re not going to get shot,” Flynn said. “There are no random homicides.”

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Social media dissent, turf damage, and other factors will land you in the morgue, not walking down the street. Over the past two years, mental health issues related to COVID have also contributed to the violence.


“Now that it’s almost over, churches, gymnasiums and schools are open again and that will help keep the kids busy,” he said. “He’s shut everything down and that means you’ve got a lot of 15-25 year olds on the street…it’s a recipe for disaster.”


Buffalo is experiencing something of a renaissance, and Flynn said he’s optimistic about the city’s future.

“I’m very optimistic about Buffalo’s prospects,” the gregarious DA said. “You know, crime never goes away… Abel killed Cain. What we need to do is keep it as low as possible.



Buffalo may be on the rise, but Marcus Spain’s family?

“We do.. okay. Marcus’ father left the state. It was too hard for him to stay,” Robyn Gerow said.

“Marcus’ only brother, my daughter, is also out of state and she’s really struggling, she was very close to her brother and has no other siblings. I just poured all my love and my time to my grandchildren so they know they are loved and safe…we continue to work through this.



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