Harris calls for unity as Buffalo lays to rest last victim of shooting: NPR

Vice President Harris speaks at a memorial service for Ruth Whitfield, a victim of the Buffalo supermarket shooting Saturday at the Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo, NY

Patrick Semansky / AP


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Vice President Harris speaks at a memorial service for Ruth Whitfield, a victim of the Buffalo supermarket shooting Saturday at the Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo, NY

Patrick Semansky / AP

BUFFALO, NY — Mourners have buried the last of 10 black people killed in a racially motivated attack at a supermarket in Buffalo with a service on Saturday that became a call to action and an emotional plea to end the violence. hatred and the violence that has plagued the nation.

The funeral of 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield — the oldest of the 10 people killed in the attack two weeks ago — included an impromptu speech by Vice President Kamala Harris. She attended the service at the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo with the second being Mr. Doug Emhoff.

Harris told mourners that this is a time for “all good people” to come to terms with the injustice that took place at the Tops Friendly Market on May 14, as well as Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and other mass shootings.

“This is a time when all good people, all God-loving people have to stand up and say we’re not going to stand for this. Enough is enough,” said Harris, who was not scheduled to speak and came to the microphone during the meeting. at the urging of Rev. Al Sharpton. “We will come together based on what we all know we have in common, and we will not be separated by people motivated by hate.”

After the funeral, Harris and Emhoff visited a memorial outside the grocery store. The vice president left a large bouquet of white flowers on the site and the couple paused for several minutes to pray. President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden had placed flowers at the same memorial on May 17 and visited the families of the victims. Biden is expected to travel to Texas this weekend to visit with the families of the victims of Tuesday’s shooting.

Harris later told reporters the government isn’t “waiting to find out what the solution looks like” to the country’s gun violence.

“We know what works on that,” she said, expressing her support for background checks and a ban on assault weapons. Harris said the nation also needs to come together.

“We have to agree that if we want to be strong as a nation, we have to stand strong and identify our diversity as our unity,” she said.

It’s been a sad week of goodbyes for family and friends of the victims of the Buffalo shooting, a group that included a restaurant worker who went to the market to buy his 3-year-old’s birthday cake; a father and a seasoned Buffalo Bills fan who worked as a school bus assistant; and a 32-year-old sister who moved to town to help a brother battling leukemia.

Whitfield, a grandmother and mother of four, had been at the grocery store after visiting her husband, 68, in a nursing home when a gunman identified by police as 18-year-old Payton Gendron launched the deadly attack.

A mourner hugs Angela Crawley, left, daughter of Ruth Whitfield, a victim of the Buffalo supermarket shooting, before a memorial service at the Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

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A mourner hugs Angela Crawley, left, daughter of Ruth Whitfield, a victim of the Buffalo supermarket shooting, before a memorial service at the Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

Patrick Semansky / AP

Authorities said Gendron, who is white, attacked the store three hours from his home in Conklin because it is in a predominantly black neighborhood.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who paid fervent tribute to Whitfield at the start of the funeral service, called on all “accomplices” who helped “this monster” and helped open fire in the supermarket to be held accountable, from the arms manufacturers and distributors to the suspect’s parents.

Crump said those who “instructed and radicalized this young, insecure person” should also be held accountable for taking Whitfield away from her family, the Buffalo community and the planet. He called her “one of the most angelic figures we’ve ever known.”

“It’s a shame that this depraved young man, not a boy, killed Ruth Whitfield and the ‘Buffalo 10’,” Crump said, referring to the victims.

Sharpton described being floored to hear the gunman live-streaming his attack on Twitch, noting how his mother had grown up in Alabama, where hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan once murdered black people.

Today, he said, white supremacists are “proud of practicing racism.”

Sharpton made a plea for gun control measures during his eulogy, saying that all communities must come together and “disarm the haters”.

“There is an epidemic of racial violence being cushioned by gun laws that allow people to kill us,” he said. “You don’t have to love us, but you don’t have to have easy access to military weapons to kill us.”

A total of 13 people were shot dead in the attack that federal authorities are investigating as a hate crime. Three people survived.

Whitfield was the mother of former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield.

Gendron is charged with first degree murder and is held without bail. His lawyer has made a plea of ​​innocent on his behalf.

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