Harris, at funeral for Buffalo shooting victim, says America experiencing 'epidemic of hate'

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Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday spoke at the funeral of one of the 10 people killed by a gunman at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York – and said that the U.S. is experiencing an "epidemic of hate."

Harris spoke at the funeral of Ruth Whitfield, who was one of the 10 killed when a gunman opened fire in a grocery store on May 14.  Authorities have said that the gunman, who is White, chose the grocery store because it's in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

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"I cannot even begin to express, our collective pain as a nation for what you are feeling in such an extreme way, to not only lose someone that you love, but through an act of extreme violence and hate," Harris said. "And I do believe that our nation right now is experiencing an epidemic of hate."

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks alongside the Rev. Al Sharpton during a memorial service for Ruth Whitfield, a victim of the Buffalo supermarket shooting, at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Saturday, May 28, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks alongside the Rev. Al Sharpton during a memorial service for Ruth Whitfield, a victim of the Buffalo supermarket shooting, at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Saturday, May 28, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Harris said to applause that Scripture teaches about strength, and that strength is based on who "you lift up" rather than "who you beat down." 

"And it means then also, in that strength, understanding we will not allow small people to create fear in our communities that we will not be afraid to stand up for what is right, to speak up even when it may be difficult to hear and speak," she said.

May 14, 2022: A small vigil set up across the street from a Tops grocery store on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, where a heavily armed 18-year-old White man entered the store in a predominantly Black neighborhood and shot 13 people, killing ten.

May 14, 2022: A small vigil set up across the street from a Tops grocery store on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, where a heavily armed 18-year-old White man entered the store in a predominantly Black neighborhood and shot 13 people, killing ten. (Matt Burkhartt for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

She then connected the attack in Buffalo to other shootings across the country and most recently in Uvalde, Texas -- where a gunman opened fire in an elementary school, killing 19 children and two adults.

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"There's a through line, what happened here in Buffalo, in Texas, in Atlanta, in Orlando, what happened at the synagogues.  So this is a moment that requires all good people who are loving people to just say we will not stand for this," she said.

"Enough is enough. We will come together based on what we all know we have in common and we will not let those people who are motivated by hate separate us or make us feel fear," she said.

She told the congregation that "We are strong in our belief about what is right and our determination to act, to ensure that we protect all those who deserve to be protected, that we see all those who deserve to be seen, that we hear the voices of the people and that we rise up in solidarity to speak out against this and to speak to our better angels."

Harris’ remarks comes as President Biden spoke at the University of Delaware and highlighted the shooting in Uvalde.

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"In the face of such destructive forces we have to stand stronger. We must stand stronger," Biden told the audience. "We cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer. We can finally do what we have to protect the lives of the people and of our children."

Fox News’ Timothy Nerozzi and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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