BUFFALO, N.Y. — Only a short distance from where a white teenager killed 10 people inside a supermarket in a rampage apparently fueled by racist conspiracy theories, President Joe Biden urged the country to stand up against a rising tide of violent hate.
“Speak up as a majority in America and condemn white supremacy. We cannot allow them to destroy the state of America, the state of our country,” Biden said. “We have to refuse to live in a country where Black people going about weekly grocery shopping can be gunned down by weapons of war deployed in a racist cause.”
Biden had just finished meeting with families of the victims of Saturday’s shooting and eulogized each person who died. He became emotional when recounting the story of a father who was killed while inside the Tops supermarket to get a birthday cake for his 3-year-old son.
“In America, evil cannot win, I promise you. Hate will not prevail, and white supremacy will not have the last word,” Biden said during his remarks.
The president and first lady arrived in Buffalo earlier on Tuesday morning and first went to the grocery store where Payton Gendron, 18, is accused of killing 10 people and injuring three others.
Dr. Jill Biden stepped out of their vehicle and placed a bouquet of white flowers at a makeshift memorial just across the street from the supermarket. Then the president and the first lady stood and paid their respects.
During his remarks, the president called the shooting a “murderous rampage” and labeled it “domestic terrorism.” He called on people to denounce white supremacy.
Moments before Biden took the stage, a large crowd of residents in the Delavan Grider community were shouting for the president to be more steadfast in fixing America’s racial problems.
“Somebody in this crowd tell me what has changed since George Floyd? Somebody raise their hand,” David Louis, a 26-year-old resident, asked the crowd.
“Nothing,” he and others responded.
Gendron was reportedly heavily armed with tactical gear. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said he livestreamed his actions and used an assault weapon during the shooting.
Eleven of the 13 shooting victims were Black, ranging in age from 20 to 86. One victim was a former police officer who attempted to stop the shooter but was ultimately killed by gunfire.
The killer shot four people outside of the grocery store, then went inside and shot nine more. Confronted by police, he took off some of the tactical gear he was wearing and surrendered.
Gendron, a white supremacist, posted a manifesto that spewed racial hate. He claimed he became radicalized on the internet while he was bored during the pandemic, and apparently believes in the racist Great Replacement theory, which holds that white people are being deliberately replaced by people who are not white.
Gendron was charged with first-degree murder and pleaded not guilty on Saturday. His next court date is Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stood beside residents in the Delavan Grider community following Biden’s remarks. The New York Democrat condemned the racist shooting and said the community would “emerge” from the tragedy.
“I know that because I know this community. I remember like it was yesterday when I stood outside the new Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue. I was proud to have advocated for its construction, bringing affordable and healthy food to this food desert,” Schumer said in a statement.
“What we didn’t know then was just how much the Tops would become a neighborhood gathering place, which is why this vicious killer choose this supermarket for his evil deed. He wanted to put a dagger in the heart of the community; how vicious and mean and cruel and deranged he was.”