May 17, 2022
From Senator Chuck Schumer:
“To Rupert Murdoch and the executives at Fox News:
Words of condemnation for white supremacist violence are not enough.
Stop disseminating false white nationalist, far-right conspiracy theories on your network.
Tucker Carlson invited me on his show tonight to debate the letter I sent to Fox News.
I’m declining. Tucker Carlson needs to stop promoting the racist, dangerous ‘Replacement Theory’.”
From Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:
“This day is a day of deep mourning. It’s a day of deep sadness. It’s a day of reflection. There is a great deal of anger. There is a need for justice. There is a need to right wrongs, and all of us are here today because we want to support this community. This community in Buffalo that is resilient, that is tough, that knows hard times but knows how to build back and knows how to overcome. The people who were slaughtered by this evil were very good people – among the best. Aaron Salter was a father and a retired police officer who gave his life to save others. Celestine Chaney was a single mom, a grandmom, breast cancer survivor. Heyward Patterson was a deacon in the local church. Ruth Whitfield was a mother and grandmother who sang in the choir, and had just visited her husband. Roberta Drury was a young woman who was visiting her brother who is recovering from leukemia. Katherine Massey, she was a civil rights activist, and Pearl Young was a missionary and a teacher. She touched the apple of God’s eye, according to her niece. So, these people, these and three others and others who were injured, they’re the best of our community. And when bad things happen to good people, we all begin to say, “This doesn’t make sense.” We as legislators, we will gather and say, “We are going to end gun violence, we are going to ban assault rifles and large magazines, we are going to fix our criminal justice system so that there’s justice. We are going to make our communities safer.” But those are just promises and hopes and goals and things we strive for. But for a community of faith, and many of the people who lost their lives and their families come from that community, we were never promised that life would be easy. In fact, we were always promised that there will be troubles. And we are promised that all tears will be wiped away – that at the end, death will be destroyed and every tear will be wiped away. We have so much work to be done. As a community, to heal; as elected leaders, to get justice for these families; and to make this a stronger, better community. But I can promise you every single one of us are dedicated to doing that until it’s done. God bless you all.”
From Governor Kathy Hochul:
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 fifteen minutes, ten 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. You’re going to be hearing from him momentarily. He is the most empathetic person who’s ever occupied a seat in that position. And I want to thank him.
I will be brief because you’re going to hear from a lot of people and this is raw still. This is a lot of emotion. Our hearts are literally broken in two. One half grieves so deeply for the families and some of them are with us today. And I cannot imagine the searing pain that just must be going through your bodies to think that you’re loved one is no longer with us. We’re still trying to comprehend this. But there’s also this other side of our broken heart that is filled with some anger. And it’s because we’re human beings. You can’t witness what happened to this community, where an individual who is radicalized in the beliefs of white supremacy and nationalism, who was so taken with these philosophies that are now becoming way too mainstream. They’re not just in the dark web anymore. They’re starting to percolate up. Elected officials are starting to embrace them and talk about them and you hear about them in Congress by certain people. And you hear about them on cable shows. It’s not just buried in the web anywhere. So these hateful philosophies are starting to become mainstream. And they took hold in the mind of an 18 year old who lives three hours from here. He targeted this community intentionally coming to this zip code because he could do maximum damage and death to people, not just any New Yorker, but he was targeting and wanted to execute Black New Yorkers. That’s hard to comprehend, the depth of that hate. And it wasn’t that alone though. You could have that hate in your heart and you can sit in your house and ferment these evil thoughts, but you can’t act on it unless you have a weapon. And that’s the intersection of these two crises in our nation right now; the mainstreaming of the hate speech and the racism and everything else that brought that person to this point, but also the access to military-style weapons and magazines. It is that lethal combination that resulted in the loss of ten decent, good people. We pray for them, but they’re not with us because of that combination. So, this is not just a call to action for the people of Buffalo — and they are rising up. You cannot believe the depth of their spirit and their resiliency. I’ve been embraced them, I’ve hugged them. I’ve cried with them. We will get through this, because this is Buffalo. We’re tough. But this should not just provoke a conversation in this community, this needs to stimulate a national conversation about how we make sure that we’re doing everything we humanly can to eradicate this evil and send it back under the rock from which it came. That is what we must do in our nation; continue to work on the access to guns. Yes, the gun he acquired was illegal in the state of New York, but it still had the capacity to kill people. But you couple that with an illegal magazine from another state you brought in literally minutes away in Pennsylvania. Do you know how easy that is? That’s why we need a national gun policy that’s common sense like we have here in New York. We need this everywhere.
My friends, we are here to say, yes, we’ll have those conversations, but they’ll be more than conversation. We’re going to do more than talk about until the next crisis and the eyes of the world turn away from Buffalo. We’re going to keep them focused on what happened here to ten human beings, our neighbors. We will never lose sight of that. That’s who we’re fighting for. That’s who we’re heading into this fight with, those people in our hearts and our minds. So, as we’ve prayed since Saturday, I was at a lot of churches and services, we pray that God will give healing to these families and this community. God give us the strength to forge ahead with the strength and conviction that justice must be done, but also changes must be made. We’ll all remember that it started here in Buffalo, New York.”