President Joe Biden choked up Tuesday in Buffalo when he talked about one of the Tops supermarket shooting victims, who was killed while shopping for a birthday cake for his young son.
‘Andre Mackneil, 53, worked at a restaurant. Went to buy his three-year-old son a birthday cake,’ Biden said pausing, overcome by emotion. ‘His son’s celebrating a birthday asking, “Where’s daddy?”‘
Biden spent the entire top of his speech recognizing the 10 people killed in the racially motivated attack.
‘Jill and I have come to stand with you,’ Biden said. ‘And to the families we’ve come to grieve with you.’
‘It’s not the same, but we know a little bit what it’s like to lose a piece of your soul. To lose a son, a daughter, a husband, a wife, a mother, a father,’ Biden said, a reference to his son Beau, but also his first wife and baby daughter.
‘You feel like there’s a black hole in your chest. You’re being sucked into it. And you’re suffocating. Unable to breath. That’s what it felt like at least to us,’ he continued. And I’m some version it feels that way to you. The anger, the pain, the depth of the loss that’s so profound.’
President Joe Biden choked up Tuesday in Buffalo when he talked about one of the Tops supermarket shooting victims, who was killed while shopping for a birthday cake for his young son
President Joe Biden choked up when he talked about 53-year-old Andre Mackneil, who was shopping for a birthday cake for his young son
He assured family members that it does get better.
Biden said that the thought of that lost loved one ‘is going to bring a smile to your lip before it brings a tear to your eye.’
‘It takes awhile for that to happen,’ he added. ‘It might take more than a season. But our prayer for you is that that time comes sooner than later, but I promise you it will come.’
He called on Americans to reject the ‘lie’ of the ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory and slammed those who push it for power and political gain.
‘Hate will not prevail and white supremacy will not have the last word,’ he said.
In his remarks, he denounced white supremacy, calling it a ‘poison’ running through the country, and said people of all races make up the majority in America.
‘White supremacy is a poison. It’s a poison,’ he said as the crowd burst into applause. ‘It really is – running through our body of politics.’
‘White supremacy has no place in America,’ he added.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden after visiting the families of the victims of the mass shooting at a Buffalo grocery store
Jill Biden carries a large bouquet of white flowers as she walks hand-in-hand with President Joe Biden to the memorial site
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit the scene of the shooting at a Buffalo grocery store; the first couple left flowers at the memorial site
And Biden called out those in politics and the media who have spread the ‘great replacement theory,’ a conspiracy theory that claims non-white individuals are being brought into the United States to ‘replace’ white voters to achieve a political agenda.
The once-fringe racist idea became a popular refrain among media figures like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham of Fox News. Some Republicans have been accused of espousing ideas similar to it.
Biden called it a ‘hate’ that ‘through the media and politics, the internet, has radicalized angry, alienated, lost, and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced. That’s the word, ‘Replaced,’ by the other. By people who don’t look like them, and you are therefore, in their perverse ideology, that they are being fed and possessed, lesser beings.’
‘I call on all Americans to reject the lie, and I condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain, and for profit,’ Biden said. ‘That’s what it is. We have now seen too many times the deadly and destructive violence this ideology and unleashes.’
Biden also said the majority of America was made of minorities.
‘We are the most multiracial, most dynamic nation in the history of the world. Now is the time for people of all races, every background, to speak up as a majority in America and reject white supremacy,’ he said.
‘These hate filled attacks represent the views of the hateful minority. We can’t allow them to destroy America, the real America. We can’t allow them to destroy the soul of the nation,’ he added.
Whites are heading toward minority status in the United States. In 2018, U.S. Census estimates showed for the first time that whites dropped to below 50% of the under-15 population.
That change is largely due to migration of Latinos and Asian Americans. Latinos are the largest-growing group, while Asian Americans are the fastest growing.
Before his remarks, Joe and Jill Biden laid flowers at the Tops Market Memorial, the place of Saturday’s mass shooting, before they went to a private, closed-door meeting with family members of the 10 victims;
In his speech, Biden called the shooting ‘domestic terrorism.’
‘What happened here is simple, straightforward terrorism, terrorism, domestic terrorism,’ he said.
The first couple were silent and the mood was somber as they paid their respects.
The Bidens held hands as they walked from the presidential limo to the makeshift memorial site. Jill Biden, dressed in black, carried a large bouquet of white flowers.
They bowed their heads at the memorial, which was decorated with balloons, stuffed animals, flowers, candles, and homemade signs.
The president crossed himself as both stood silently in front of a tree, the base of which is now covered with tributes to the victims.
The Bidens then stepped away from the memorial to make way for Gov. Kathy Hochul, Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, senator Kirsten Gillibrand and other leaders. The New York officials each placed bouquets down at the tree.
The memorial is across a small street from the grocery store’s parking lot. Other trees on the street also have been decorated with memorials.
Authorities say suspect Payton Gendron, 18, carried out an act of ‘racially motivated violent extremism.’ He faces and was charged with one count of murder and officials said they would weigh additional charges in the coming days.
President Joe Biden crosses himself as he and Jill Biden visit the memorial site
The Bidens bowed their heads after leaving the flowers
The Bidens pause at the memorial site
New York officials lay flowers at the site as Joe and Jill Biden look on
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul looks at a memorial and places a flower bouquet
The Bidens spoke with New York elected officials after their visit to the memorial
The president also pushed Congress to pass stricter gun control laws – a call that may be in vain. He asked lawmakers to take legislative steps to bar those with mental illness from acquiring weapon.
‘We can keep assault weapons off our streets. We’ve done it before. I didn’t want to pass the crime bill last time and violence went down. Shootings went down. You can’t prevent people from being radicalized to violence. We can address the relentless exploitation of the Internet to recruit and mobilize terrorism,’ he said in his remarks.
Biden has previously asked lawmakers to require new background checks for gun buyers and ban military-style ‘assault’ weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.
But Democrats don’t have enough votes to pass them, particularly in the 50-50 Senate
‘You know as well as I it takes 60 votes on anything controversial and that is controversial. So we’re kind of stuck where we are at the time being,’ Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said. ‘We’re realists. We know where we are. It’ll take an election to change.’
Other mass shootings have sparked no legislation action.
Payton Gendron talks with his attorney during his arraignment in Buffalo City Court
Joe and Jill Biden left for Buffalo on Tuesday morning to head to the Tops Market Memorial – Biden carried a copy of the Washington Post, which had photos of the victims on its front page
President Joe Biden embraces New York State Governor Kathy Hochul after disembarking Air Force One at Buffalo Niagara International Airport
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden talk to local law enforcement officials upon their arrival in Buffalo
A makeshift memorial is set up in Buffalo after Saturday’s deadly shooting
Mourners light candles at a makeshift memorial outside of Tops market\
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden board Marine One in route to Buffalo
Biden has said he ran for president after then-President Donald Trump failed to denouce as white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. He called it a ‘battle for the soul of America.’
Yet he’s been unsuccessful at stamping out the rise in white supremacist groups or curbing gun violence. Shooting deaths are on the rise in America.
Democratic congressional leaders, however, are renewing their efforts to pass the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act.
It creates offices inside the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation ‘to monitor, investigate and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism,’ with a focus on white supremacist-related incidents.
Republicans oppose the legislsation, however, as does the the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued that the bill would have harmed communities of color by ‘unnecessarily’ expanding ‘law enforcement authorities to target and discriminate against the very communities Congress is seeking to protect.’
But Democratic prospects for advancing stricter gun control bills, which include passing universal background checks and limiting access to the kind of semiautomatic weapons of the type used by the Buffalo suspect, are slim.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk, after paying their respects to the 10 people killed in a mass shooting by a gunman authorities say was motivated by racism, at the TOPS Friendly Markets memorial site with other New York lawmakers
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are driven away after visiting the shooting scene
Women place flowers at a memorial for victims near the scene of a shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo
President Joe Biden talks with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the tarmac at the Buffalo airport
In Buffalo, Joe and Jill Biden will meet with the victims’ families
President Joe Biden waves from Air Force One as Jill Biden looks on
A memorial is seen for victims near the scene of a shooting
Thirteen were shot in Saturday’s shooting and 10 have died in what authorities are called a racially-motivated attack. Eleven of the people shot were black.
It is the latest in a spate of mass shootings that authorities said were motivated by hate, including those at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina; and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Suspect Payton Gendron, 18, allegedly planned the attack for months before he drove for three hours to carry out the attack, which authorities are calling an act of ‘violent extremism’ motivated by race.
Police said Sunday that they believe the attack had been planned for months and added that they are investigating a 180-page manifesto that Gendron reportedly posted before going on his rampage that included a plan to drive several counties away to carry out the shooting at the Tops Friendly Market.
Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, NY, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. He is being held without bail and faces life in prison. He is due back in court on Thursday
Gendron identified himself as a white supremacist in the document as he explained his fears white people are being replaced by other races, police said.
‘The shooter traveled hours from outside this community to perpetrate this crime on the people of Buffalo, a day when people were enjoying the sunshine, enjoying family, enjoying friends,’ Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a Saturday evening news conference.
‘People in a supermarket, shopping and bullets raining down on them. People’s lives being snuffed out in an instant for no reason.’
Jean-Pierre did not directly answer when asked why Biden was going to Buffalo on Tuesday and did not visit Waukesha, Wisconsin, after the driver of a sport utility vehicle killed six people and injured sixty-two others by hitting participants and observers at the annual Christmas parade.
‘He’s visited many communities,’ she said of the president.
‘Buffalo is not the first community – sadly – that he has to go up to, because of a violent attack,’ she said.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin slammed Biden for visiting Buffalo after not visiting his home state.
‘Last year when Darrell Brooks murdered six innocent people and injured over 60 during the Waukesha Christmas parade, the White House claimed President Biden couldn’t go to Waukesha because it would require too many ‘assets’ and ‘resources.’ But within hours of the most recent senseless tragedy, the White House apparently found the resources to plan a presidential trip to Buffalo,’ he said in a statement.
Jean-Pierre on Monday also refused to call out by name any public figures who pushed fringe theories like the alleged shooter did.
She refused to do so again on Tuesday, saying she was not going to give them the attention they wanted.
‘The people who spread this filth, know who they are, and they should be ashamed of themselves, but I’m not going to give them or give them or their noxious ideas they’re pushing the attention that they desperately want,’ she said.
And she doubled down when asked again.
‘I’m not gonna give them a platform. So I just want to make that very clear, but we’re going to make our case directly to the people. We have a vision for this country. One where we combat hate racism and violence. We denounce white racism and domestic terror. We hope all will join us in denouncing hate and racism, as well as a conspiracy theories that run rampant online,’ she said.
Retired Buffalo Police Department cop Aaron Salter, pictured right, has been named as the first victim of the tragedy. He was working as a store security guard and shot Gendron, who returned fire and killed Salter
Ruth Witfield, 86, the mother of former Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell Witfield was also killed in the murder spree
Pearly Young, 77, who fed needy residents in Buffalo’s Central Park neighborhood for 25 years, was shot and killed Saturday
Roberta Drury, 32, who was killed in the shooting while she was shopping for dinner, was described as ‘very vibrant’ by her sister Amanda. ‘She always was the center of attention and made the whole room smile and laugh’
Katherine Massey was one of the victims killed in the grocery store shooting in Buffalo on Saturday. She is pictured in October 2011
Celestine Chaney, 65, who was at the supermarket to buy strawberries for shortcake, was killed during the shooting, her son, Wayne Jones, 48, confirmed. Chaney is pictured above with her granddaughter Kay Savvy
Heyward Patterson, who would often give people rides to and from the supermarket and help them carry their groceries, was also among the 10 people fatally shot, according to Patterson’s great niece Teniqua Clark
Seven of of the victims have been named by family members by Sunday.
Shopper Ruth Whitfield, an 86-year-old grandmother, who is also the mother of former Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell Whitfield, and Katherine Massey, who had gone to the store to pick up some groceries, were killed, according to Buffalo News.
Pearly Young, 77, who fed needy residents in Buffalo’s Central Park neighborhood for 25 years, was shot and killed during the massacre, reporter Madison Carter tweeted.
Celestine Chaney, 65, who was at the supermarket to buy strawberries for shortcake, was killed during the shooting, her son, Wayne Jones, 48, confirmed. Roberta Drury, 32, was at the store to buy groceries for dinner when she was fatally shot, her sister Amanda Drury, 34, said.
Heyward Patterson, who would often give people rides to and from the supermarket and help them carry their groceries, was also among the 10 people fatally shot, according to Patterson’s great niece Teniqua Clark.
Officials said the rifle Gendron used in the attack was purchased legally but the magazines he used for ammunition were not allowed to be sold in New York.