VP Harris decries 'epidemic of hate' in remarks at Buffalo, N.Y., funeral

A group prays in the street on Sunday near the site of the mass shooting on Saturday at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

May 28 (UPI) -- Vice President Kamala Harris decried an "epidemic of hate" she said is sweeping the nation as she attended the Saturday funeral of Ruth Whitfield, the oldest victim of a mass shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket earlier this month.

Whitfield's visitation and funeral were both held at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo.


Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff arrived at the church at 12:08 p.m., according to pool reports. They sat on the front row at the church alongside Whitfield's family.

Civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy for Whitfield. He encouraged Harris to also give remarks, though she initially said she didn't wish to speak at the funeral.

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"I do believe that our nation right now is experiencing the epidemic of hate," she said.

"There's a through line to what happened here, in Texas, in Atlanta, in Orlando, what happened at the synagogues ... and so this is a moment that requires all good people who are loving people to just say we will not stand for this.

"Enough is enough.


"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."

Also in attendance at the service were New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncraz, U.S. Sen Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Whitfield, 86, was one of 10 people killed in the May 14 shooting at a Tops Friendly Markets grocery store.

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Authorities said the shooting was racially motivated, citing a racist manifesto posted only by the accused gunman, Payton Gendron, 18. All 10 of the victims who died were Black. Of the three others injured, two were White and one was Black.

Whitfield's is the last funeral to take place for those killed in the shooting. Over the previous week, Geraldine Talley, 62, Andre Mackniel, 53, Margus Morrison, 52, Aaron Salter, 55, Pearl Young, 77, Roberta Drury, 32, Katherine Massey, 72, Heyward Patterson, 67, and Celestine Chaney, 65 were laid to rest.

The White House said Harris and Emhoff met with local leaders before the funeral.


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