US Vice President Kamala Harris called for an assault weapons ban as mourners laid to rest the last of 10 black people killed in a racist attack at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday.
he funeral of Ruth Whitfield, 86 – the oldest of 10 people killed in the attack two weeks ago – included an impromptu speech from Ms Harris.
Ms Harris told mourners it was time for ‘all good people’ to stand up to the injustice which happened at Tops Friendly Market on May 14, as well as at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde , Texas, and other mass shootings.
“This is a time that demands all good people, all people who love God, to stand up and say we will not tolerate this. Enough is enough,” said Ms Harris, who was not to take the floor and came to the microphone at the request of the Reverend Al Sharpton.
“We will come together on the basis of what we all know we have in common, and we will not let these hate-motivated people separate us or cause us to feel fear.”
After the funeral, Ms Harris visited a memorial outside the supermarket. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden had laid flowers at the same memorial on May 17 and visited the families of the victims. Mr. Biden is expected to travel to Texas for a visit this weekend with families of victims of Tuesday’s school shooting.
Ms. Harris later told reporters that the administration was not “sitting around waiting to find out what the solution looks like” to the problem of gun violence in the country.
“We know what works on that,” she said, reiterating her support for background checks and a ban on assault weapons.
“Let’s ban assault weapons,” she said. “An assault weapon is a weapon of war that has no place, no place in civil society. Background check: why should someone be able to buy a weapon that can kill other human beings without at least knowing: hey, this person has already committed a violent crime, is he a threat to himself or others ? »
Ms Harris said the nation also needed to come together.
“We have to agree that if we want to be strong as a nation, we have to stay strong, identifying our diversity as our unity,” she said.
It’s been a sad week of farewells for the family and friends of Buffalo shooting victims, a group that includes a restaurant worker who went to the market to buy his three-year-old’s birthday cake ; a father and die-hard Buffalo Bills fan who worked as a school bus aide; and a 32-year-old sister who moved to town to help a brother who was battling leukemia.
Authorities said 18-year-old Payton Gendron, who is white, targeted the store three hours from his home in Conklin because it is in a predominantly black neighborhood.
A total of 13 people were shot in the attack that federal authorities are investigating as a hate crime. Three people survived.
Gendron is charged with first degree murder and is being held without bond. His lawyer pleaded not guilty on his behalf.