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Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., held a news briefing Tuesday with families of the victims of the May 14 supermarket shooting in Buffalo, New York.
Watch the event in the player above.
WATCH: Why doctors are calling gun violence in the U.S. an epidemic
“The situation in Buffalo was a clear example of a deranged individual who was inspired by some white supremacist theory to attack innocent people at the Tops grocery store,” Durbin said.
At the news briefing, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gestured to the family members present and said “these folks will live with this the rest of their lives.”
“Not just today, not just next week, not just next year. The whole community on the east side of Buffalo will live with this for the rest of the community’s existence,” Schumer said.
The news briefing came after the Judiciary Committee held a hearing with the victims’ families. During the hearing, the son of 86-year-old shooting victim Ruth Whitfield challenged Congress Tuesday to act against the “cancer of white supremacy” and the nation’s epidemic of gun violence.
Garnell Whitfield Jr’s emotional testimony comes as lawmakers are working furiously to strike a bipartisan agreement on gun safety measures in the aftermath of back-to-back mass shootings. Ten days after the death of his mother and 9 others in New York, another 18-year-old gunman with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 school children and two teachers.
“What are you doing? You were elected to protect us,” Whitfield Jr. told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Is there nothing that you personally are willing to do to stop the cancer of white supremacy and the domestic terrorism it inspires?” he asked. “If there is nothing then, respectfully, senators … you should yield your positions of authority and influence to others that are willing to lead on this issue.”
On Thursday, the shooter pleaded not guilty to a domestic terrorism charge, as well as other charges.
The domestic terrorism charge — Domestic Acts of Terrorism Motivated by Hate in the First Degree — accuses him of killing “because of the perceived race and/or color” of his victims.
Federal authorities also are investigating the possibility of hate crime charges against the shooter, who apparently detailed his plans and his racist motivation in hundreds of pages of writings he posted online shortly before the shooting.
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