BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Certain businesses have reportedly taken goods donated to help the East Side community and sold them.
City lawmakers are not sure if selling food and other necessities that have been donated is against the law, but the Buffalo Common Council is now taking action to crack down on those who profit off of this human tragedy.
Food, clothing, household necessities are flowing into the Jefferson Avenue Tops neighborhood. — donations to those struggling to cope with a mass shooting — struggling in the midst of a food desert. Now, councilmembers are getting reports some nearby businesses are stocking their store shelves with those donations.
“There are folks who are exploiting the massacre that occurred on the 14th, and because of this it has caused an outcry in our community from eyewitnesses,” Masten District Councilmember Ulysees Wingo, Sr. said.
But is selling merchandise that was donated, free-of-charge to help folks in need, a crime?
“It is not illegal for somebody to go — I saw somebody buy 1,000 bottles of water the other day,” Councilman Darius Pridgen said. “It is not illegal for them to buy it and resell it, it is not illegal for them to go and buy a name brand item and resell it.”
If selling donated items isn’t illegal, Common Council members say it is immoral and unethical to prey on human misery. They are calling on the City’s law department to determine if the sales of donated goods is a crime — and wondering what City officials can do to crack down on it.
Wingo said some agencies distributing donated goods are taking action by marking those donations.
“And if any of those items with those little special markings were found in the stores on the shelves, then we would know — that is proof, or evident that — no one but the distribution centers know what those marks are — that way no one can go in and say, ‘I found this in the store.'”
Wingo is encouraging residents in the Jefferson neighborhoods, if they see suspicious items on store shelves were donated — maybe the brand name is from another store — to take a picture and report it to their councilmember.
Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.