President and first lady honor lives lost in Buffalo shooting, call on all Americans to ‘condemn white supremacy’
On Tuesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul joined City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and local elected and community leaders in welcoming President Jos Biden and first lady Jill Biden to the Delavan Grider Community Center in Buffalo to grieve with the community in the wake of Saturday’s shootings at a Tops supermarket.
The president said, in part, ‘I want to thank your law enforcement officers for not just what they did in this crisis, but for accommodating us.
“And all the elected officials, and law enforcement officers, first responders, and faith leaders that are here today: Jill and I have come to stand with you.
“And to the families: We’ve come here to grieve with you. It’s not the same, but we know a little bit of what’s like to lose a piece of your soul when you lose a son, a daughter, a husband, a wife, a mother, a father. The feeling of having that – as I said to some of you when we talked privately: You feel like there’s a black hole in your chest you’re being sucked into and you’re suffocating, unable to breath. That’s what it felt like, at least to us. And I’m sure some version of that – it feels that way to you. The anger. The pain. The depth of a loss that’s so profound.
“You know, we know it’s hard to believe, and you’re probably not going to believe it, but I can tell you now from our personal experience and many others who we’ve met: The day is going to come – it will come – when your loved one brings a smile as you remember him or her – as you remember her; it’s going to bring a smile to your lip before it brings a tear to your eye. It takes a while for that to happen. It takes a while. It might take more than a season, but our prayer for you is that time comes sooner or later, but I promise you it will come.
“As a nation, I say to the families: We remember them.
“We’ve been reading about them. We visited the memorial where – the show of the love for them, and you’ve all shown, by the supermarket.
President Joe Biden speaks at the Delavan Grider Community Center in Buffalo. (Photo by Mike Groll/Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul)
“And Celestine Chaney, 65 years old. Brain cancer survivor. Churchgoer. Bingo player. Went to buy strawberries to make her favorite shortcake. A loving mother and a grandmother.
“Roberta Drury, 32. Beloved daughter and sister. Moved back home to help take care of her brother after his bone marrow transplant. She went to buy groceries for dinner. The center of attention who made everyone in the room laugh and smile when she walked in.
“Andre Mackneil, 53. Worked at a restaurant. Went to buy his 3-year-old son a birthday cake. His son (celebrating) a birthday, asking, ‘Where is Daddy?’
“Katherine Massey, 72. A writer and an advocate who dressed up in costumes at schools and cut the grass in the park, and helping local elections. The glue of the family and the community.
“Margus Morrison, 52. School bus aide. Went to buy snacks for weekly movie night with the family. Survived by his wife and three children and his stepdaughter. The center of their world.
“Heyward Patterson, 67. Father. Church deacon. Fed the homeless at the soup kitchen. Gave rides to the grocery store to neighbors who needed help. Putting food in the trunk of others when he took his final breath.
“Aaron Salter, 55. Retired Buffalo police officer for three decades. Three decades. Loved electric cars. A hero who gave his life to save others on a Saturday afternoon. And had that man not been wearing that vest that he purchased – bulletproof vest – a lot of lives would have been saved. A beloved father and husband.
“Geraldine Talley, 62. Expert (baker). And known for her warm, gentle personality. A friend to everybody. Devoted mother and grandmother.
“Ruth Whitfield, 88. Beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother who sang in the church choir. A caretaker of her husband, bringing him clean clothes, cutting his hair, holding his hand every day she visited him in the nursing home. Heart as big as her head.
“Pearl Young, 77. A mother, grandmother, missionary of God. Public school teacher who also ran a local food pantry. Loved singing, dancing, and her family.
“And all three are injured: Zaire Goodman, 20. Shot in the neck but fighting through it. Jennifer Warrington, 50. Christopher Braden, 55. Both treated with injuries, on a long road to recovery.
“Individual lives of love, service, and community that speaks to the bigger story of who we are as Americans. A great nation because we’re a good people.
“Jill and I bring you this message from deep in our nation’s soul: In America, evil will not win – I promise you. Hate will not prevail. And white supremacy will not have the last word.
“For the evil did come to Buffalo, and it’s come to all too many places, manifested in gunmen who massacred innocent people in the name of hateful and perverse ideology rooted in fear and racism.
“It’s taken so much. Ten lives cut short in a grocery store, three other wounded – three other wounded by a hate-filled individual who had driven 200 miles from Binghamton – in that range – to carry out a murderous, racist rampage that he would livestream – livestream to the world.
“What happened here is simple and straightforward: terrorism. Terrorism. Domestic terrorism. Violence inflicted in the service of hate and a vicious thirst for power that defines one group of people being inherently inferior to any other group.”
Biden added, “Look, we’ve seen the mass shootings in Charleston, South Carolina; El Paso, Texas; in Pittsburgh; last year in Atlanta; this week in Dallas, Texas; and now in Buffalo – in Buffalo, New York.
“White supremacy is a poison. It’s a poison running through – it really is – running through our body politic. And it’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes.
“No more. I mean, no more. We need to say as clearly and forcefully as we can that the ideology of white supremacy has no place in America. None.”
Hochul said, “I want to thank President Biden because, when he called me not long after the shooting, he said, ‘Kathy, what can I do for you?’ We spoke for a little while. He says, ‘This is your hometown.’ I said, ‘Yes, this is my hometown. I live 15 minutes, 10 minutes from where it happened. I'm a daughter of Buffalo, and I'm so proud to be governor. But right now, I'm a daughter of Buffalo.’
“I said, ‘Mr. President, Buffalo's a little bit like Scranton, little-bigger version of Scranton.’ You know, Scranton. You live a long time and you love your community, but you get knocked down a little bit, and don't quite get the respect sometimes at other parts of your state do, and you just kind of feel like, you know, you need little attention.
“And I said, ‘You know what, Mr. President,’ when he said, ‘What could I do,’ I said, ‘If you came to Buffalo, if you came and showed up and just gave a collective hug to this community. There's something called Buffalove. It's a combination of the words Buffalo and love. We call it Buffalove. Give us a big embrace, Mr. President, that's all we need you to do.’ And he said, ‘I'll be there; I'll be there.’ So, I want to thank him, from the bottom of my heart, for helping my beloved community and that people of my state heal with his presence today.
New York State Sen. Sean Ryan said, “Thank you to the president and the first lady for visiting our community today. I was honored to join them and my colleagues at the Delavan-Grider Community Center as President Biden addressed the nation from Buffalo and offered his condolences. We heard powerful words from the president consoling the families of those who were murdered, and condemning white supremacy and the lie of replacement theory. We remain a community in mourning, and I know in the days ahead we will continue to remember the lives that were taken, as we work together to address the scourge of gun violence and the evil of white supremacy that continue to plague our nation.”