BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — Garnell Whitfield, the former Buffalo fire chief whose mother died in the Tops mass shooting, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning.
That attack, which killed 10 black people, has been charged as a hate crime by Erie County prosecutors. Hate is exactly what Garnell Whitfield spoke to senators about.
“We want to make sure they tackle white supremacy,” Whitfield said before traveling to Washington.
He says he is still in shock. It has now been over three weeks since Ruth Whitfield, 86, was murdered while shopping on Jefferson Avenue.
“I can’t imagine a time when I’d ever forget my mother,” Garnell said. “What happened to her, the things about her that we miss. Every time I look at my family, at my father, I see my mother.”
Whitfield testified before the same Senate committee that heard FBI Director Christopher Wray say in March 2021 that racially motivated violence was a concern for federal law enforcement.
“The greatest threat we face (domestic violent extremists) continues to be those we identify as racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, especially those who advocate for the superiority of the white race,” Wray said in a statement to that committee. .
“That’s been talked about for a long time,” Whitfield said of white supremacy. “And yet nothing has been done about it. It seems like a conscious effort not to talk about it.”
He hopes that will change. Whitfield admits he has no control over what Congress does. But he believes his job is to speak ‘the truth against power’.
“I don’t know anything about the result. But it’s worth doing. My mother’s life was worth living,” he said.
Joining Whitfield when testifying Tuesday were:
- Michael German, a former FBI agent who is a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program
- dr. Robert Pape, director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats
- Justin Herdman, Former US Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio
- Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law and George Washington University
The hearing started at 10 a.m.
Mass shooting at Buffalo Supermarket
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. View more of his work here.