The son of the eldest victim of the Buffalo grocery store massacre has demanded US senators take action against the “cancer of white supremacy”.
Garnell Whitfield Jr, whose 86-year-old mother Ruth Whitfield was killed in the 14 May attack, called on members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to “yield your positions of authority” if they were unwilling to find a solution to the growing domestic terror threat.
Mr Whitfield described his mother as the “heart and rock” of his family, and that their lives had been “forever damaged by an act of profound hate and evil”.
He added the 18-year-old charged with his mother’s murder “did not act alone”.
“He was radicalised by white supremacists. His anger and hatred were metastasised like a cancer by people with big microphones screaming that Black people were going to take away their jobs and opportunities.”
Mr Whitfield implored the senators to “imagine the faces of your mothers, as you look at mine and ask yourself, is there nothing that we can do?”
He continued: “Is there nothing that you personally are willing to do to stop the cancer of white supremacy.
“Because if there is nothing, then respectfully, senators, you should yield your positions of authority and influence to others that are willing to lead on this issue.
“My mother’s life mattered. My mother’s life mattered.”
— Garnell Whitfield, Jr., son of the oldest Buffalo massacre victim Ruth Whitfield, at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on domestic terrorism. pic.Twatter.com/5OcCOFw5nG
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) June 7, 2022
“The urgency of the moment demands no less. My mother’s life mattered. My mother’s life mattered. Your actions here today would tell us how much it matters to you.”
Mr Whitfield was speaking at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Examinining the ‘Metastasising’ Domestic Terrorism Threat After the Buffalo Attack” on Tuesday morning.
The hearings were called after 10 Black people were shot and killed and three others wounded when an 18-year-old gunman armed with an assault rifle and dressed in body armour opened fire at the Tops grocery store on 14 May.
Federal authorities are investigating the massacre as a racist hate crime, and the gunman allegedly kept a diary detailing his white supremacist beliefs.
After his powerful opening statement, Mr Whitfield took questions from the senators on racism and gun violence.
In a manifesto verified as belonging to the shooting suspect, the 18-year-old stated the purpose of the massacre was to counter a trend known as the “white replacement theory”.
The conspiracy in short spreads the false belief that Democrats are attempting to supplant white Americans with Hispanic immigrants and other people of colour in an attempt to radically change the US voting population.
Experts have linked the gunman’s manifesto to theories promoted on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show.
According to The New York Times Mr Carlson has mentioned the issue of demographic “replacement”, in his own words, on hundreds of episodes totalling more than 50 hours of content.