Garnell Whitfield Jr., son of Buffalo shooting victim Ruth Whitfield, delivered a heartfelt plea to lawmakers Tuesday, calling on them to take action against white supremacy so that more innocent people are not slain like his mother was during a trip to the grocery story in May.
Whitfield’s testimony was part of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled, “Examining the ‘Metastasizing’ Domestic Terrorism Threat After the Buffalo Attack.” Fighting back tears, Whitfield recalled how his mother sacrificed for their family, including taking time every day to visit his father in a nursing home, where he has been for the past eight years.
“For her to be murdered, taken away from us by someone so full of hate, is impossible to understand and even harder to live with,” he said. “But we’re more than hurt. We’re angry. We’re made as hell. Because this should have never happened.”
Whitfield said that while he and his family are “good people” who “trust in God,” what happened to his mother in Buffalo on May 14 was no divine act, but the act of a man. A man, he said, who “did not act alone” because he was “radicalized by supremacists,” and his “anger and hatred were metastasized like a cancer by people with big microphones screaming that Black people were going to take away their jobs and opportunities.”
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“So what are we supposed to do with all of our anger and all of our pain?” Whitfield asked. “You expect us to continue to just forgive and forget over and over again? And what are you doing? You were elected to protect us, to protect our way of life.”
Whitfield urged senators to think of their own mothers and ask whether there is nothing they can do to combat “the cancer of white supremacy and the domestic terrorism it inspires.”
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“Because if there is nothing …you should yield your positions of authority and influence to others that are willing to lead on this issue. The urgency of the moment demands no less,” Whitfield said.
“My mother’s life mattered,” he declared. “Your actions here today will tell us how much it matters to you.”
The hearing took place the same day that the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin warning of a “heightened threat environment” over the next several months as they monitor both risks of domestic terrorism and foreign adversaries looking to sow discord within the U.S. to promote acts of violence.
The bulletin listed potential targets to include “public gatherings, faith-based institutions, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents.”
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and Liz Friden contributed to this report.