Vice President Kamala Harris said Saturday the nation is experiencing an “extreme epidemic of hate,” while speaking at the funeral for Ruth Whitfield, the oldest of 10 people killed in the racially-motivated May 14 massacre at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Harris made the comment during an unscheduled visit to Mount Olive Baptist Church, where mourners said goodbye to 86-year-old Whitfield.
Welcomed to the front of the church by Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered the eulogy, Harris offered condolences to the Whitfield family.
“The pain that this family is feeling right now and the nine other families here in Buffalo, I cannot even begin to express our collective pain as a nation for what you are feeling,” Harris said. “To not only lose someone that you love, but through an act of extreme violence and hate. And I do believe that our nation right now is experiencing an extreme epidemic of hate.”
The vice president then issued a call to action.
“What happened here in Buffalo, in Texas, in Atlanta, in Orlando, what happened at the synagogues, 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,” she continued. “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. So I’m here to say that we are all in this together. No one should ever be made to fight alone.”
[Watch the video below]
Ruth Whitfield is the mother of former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield Jr. She went to the grocery store after visiting her husband of 68 years at a nursing home, the Associated Press reported.
After attending Whitfield’s funeral, Harris and husband Douglas Emhoff placed a bouquet of flowers at a memorial outside the supermarket.
Authorities said the gunman, who is White, fatally shot ten people and left three others injured at a Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly African American neighborhood and streamed the violence live on Twitch.
The 18-year-old suspect was immediately detained. He pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and is being held without bail.
According to published reports the gunman posted a racist manifesto online earlier this month, citing the “great replacement” conspiracy theory that Whites are being intentionally replaced by people of color and immigrants.
Watch the video below of Vice President Kamala Harris delivering her remarks.