A 600-page document attributed to the shooter details how he chose the Buffalo supermarket after researching other locations in New York state, including Syracuse and Rochester.
Since the shooting, many Black Buffalonians have been afraid to enter public places like stores, wondering if an attack could happen again here.
The shooting, which horrified the nation just two weeks ago, appears to have been quickly overshadowed by another senseless mass shooting, the Uvalde, Texas massacre on Tuesday. But for the community here, the service also served as a call to action, full of desperate pleas for lawmakers to put in place measures to prevent more gun violence.
Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump urged lawmakers to take action on gun control during his scathing speech. He repeatedly returned to Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s calls to oppose evil when you see it in the world.
“We cannot tolerate evil,” Crump said. “We must protest against evil.”
Vice President Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, also attended services after meeting privately with Whitfield’s family.
“We will not allow little people to spread fear in our communities,” Harris told the crowd of more than 400 people at Mount Olive Baptist Church, about two miles from the scene of the murder.
How Buffalo’s East Side Residents Face Racism Everyday
Whitfield was remembered as an anchor by her family, including her son, former Buffalo Fire Marshal Garnell W. Whitfield, her three siblings, and a host of mourners.
Garnell Whitfield has told how, as a Mother’s Day gift, he built a raised garden bed for his mother in the days before the attack. She asked him if he was going to use it to grow vegetables after she left, he recalls.
“She was like, ‘Leave that box alone,'” Whitfield said. “…She wasn’t trying to grow seeds in that box. She had tended her seeds all her life. This fruit had ripened. He had matured.
While the mood of the service was celebratory, many speakers also saw the funeral as an opportunity to address significant issues of systemic racism that exist in Buffalo and beyond. Reverend Al Sharpton urged mourners to use the deaths of the Buffalo 10, as the victims have come to be called, as motivation to continue pushing for laws that will prevent the next racist shooting.
“We’re going to build a new Buffalo in the name of those 10,” Sharpton said. “We want economic development right here in Buffalo.”
10 years of failure on gun control
Outside, after the end of service, politicians across the state joined Crump and Sharpton in continuing to call for more action on gun laws and push for further economic development. in the East Side of the city.
The Tops supermarket where the attack happened is the only full-service market on the city’s Black East Side, and was a hard-won victory when it opened in 2003, the result of years of advocacy by campaigners from the piece. Access to food remains scarce in neighborhoods east of Main Street.
New York State Assembly Majority Leader and longtime East Side resident Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes (R) pressed fellow Republicans in the legislature to pass laws that could help prevent gun violence.
“I don’t want your thoughts or your prayers,” Peoples-Stokes said. “I want action. I need you to stop opposing opportunities to take guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.
Mayor Byron Brown (D) said he too would continue to push lawmakers at all levels.
“We won’t be silent on this,” Brown said. “We will work collectively to hold the lawmakers in Washington who refuse to act and the gun manufacturers who put profit before the sanctity of human life – we will hold them accountable.”
Before boarding a plane for Washington, Harris urged lawmakers to ban assault weapons.
“I will say, as I’ve said countless times, we’re not sitting around waiting to find out what the solution looks like,” she said in comments to media. “Do you know how an assault weapon was designed? It was designed for one purpose: to kill large numbers of humans quickly.