The last of the 10 Black people that were killed in the racist attack at Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York was laid to rest on Saturday (May 28) with a funeral service that turned into a call to action and an emotional plea to end the hate and violence in this country.
Ruth Whitfield, 86, was the oldest of the 10 people that were shot and killed in the mass attack two weeks ago (May 14) by a white gunman who reportedly traveled almost three hours to a predominately Black neighborhood dressed in combat uniform. In all 13 people were shot and federal authorities are investigating as a hate crime after finding racist posts online linked to the gunman.
Vice president Kamala Harris, and her husband Doug Emhoff attended the funeral along with the civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton as he delivered the eulogy at the funeral service at Mount Olive Baptist church in Buffalo.
“This is a moment that requires all good people, all God loving people to stand up and say we will not stand for this. Enough is enough,” said Harris, who wasn’t scheduled to speak but came to the microphone as Sharpton urged her to. “We will come together based on what we all know we have in common, and we will not let those people who are motivated by hate separate us or make us feel fear.”
“I’m here to say that we are all in this together – no one should ever be made to fight alone,” she said as she closes her remarks. “We are stronger than those who would try to hurt us think that we are – we are strong. We are strong in our faith. We are strong in our belief about what is right and our determination to act to ensure that we protect all those who deserve to be protected, that we see all those who deserve to be seen, that we hear the voices of the people, and that we rise up in solidarity to speak out against this, and to speak to our better angels.”
Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the funeral services for Ruth Whitfield, the oldest victim in the Buffalo shooting, on Saturday, saying she believes "our nation is experiencing an epidemic of hate." https://t.co/JWrg5J1qvy pic.twitter.com/mdOt7pg8au
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 28, 2022
Ruth was the mother of the former Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell Whitfield. Ruth had just left from visiting her husband at a nursing home, a daily routine for eight years, when she stopped at Tops to get groceries, her son Garnell told CNN’s Omar Jimenez.
Garnell said he had been trying to call his mother after hearing about the shooting but couldn’t get in touch with her. He drove by her house and then went to Tops where he found her car in the parking lot. Whitfield later learned that his mother was among the victims.
“Devastation, anger, hurt, disbelief, pain,” Garnell said, describing his feelings that day. “She was the glue that held our family together.”