Biden visits Buffalo to meet families of mass shooting victims – latest updates | Joe Biden

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Biden to call for stronger gun laws during Buffalo visit

Joe Biden will visit a makeshift memorial at the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, this morning before meeting privately with survivors and families of the 10 people killed in a mass shooting on Saturday.

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The president and first lady Jill Biden also plan to speak with first responders and local officials before Biden delivers remarks at a nearby community center at lunchtime calling on Congress to pass stricter gun laws, as well as urging Americans to reject racism.

Talking to reporters aboard Air Force One just now, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden was outraged by the shooting, and gave a preview of his address:

The president will call this despicable act for what it is, terrorism motivated by a hateful and perverse ideology that tears at the soul of our nation.

He will call on all Americans to give hate no safe harbor and to reject the lies of racial animus that radicalize and divide us and led to the act of racist violence we saw on Saturday that took the lives of 10 Americans.

President Biden will call on Congress to take action to keep weapons of war off our streets and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people who have a serious mental illness that makes them a danger to themselves or others.

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It remains to be seen if there is renewed appetite in the Senate for stronger gun laws in the wake of the Buffalo shooting and similar recent deadly hate attacks, including one at a California church on Sunday.

Republicans have repeatedly blocked efforts to introduce measures overwhelmingly popular with the US public. Jean-Pierre said:

We’re going to continue to call on Congress to expand to expand background checks, renew our ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and confirm Steve Dettelbach to head the ATF [bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives].

Biden made gun controls a plank of his election campaign, but has been frustrated by a divided Congress. Last month, he announced plans to crack down on so-called “ghost guns”.

Derrick Johnson, president of the national association for the advancement of colored people (NAACP) said the president’s visit to Buffalo was more than an exercise in grieving:

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It’s important for him to show up for the families and the community and express his condolences. But we’re more concerned with preventing this from happening in the future.

We’ll bring you plenty more from the Bidens’ visit to Buffalo as it happens.

Biden to Buffalo families and survivors: ‘We’ve come to grieve with you’

Joe Biden has just begun his remarks at the scene of the mass shooting in Buffalo that claimed 10 lives on Saturday.

“We’ve come to grieve with you,” the president said, after being introduced by first lady Jill Biden.

“The feeling like there’s a black hole in your chest, you’re suffocating, you’re unable to breath. The anger, and the pain, the depth of a loss that’s so profound”.

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Biden is naming the victims one by one, and telling his audience a little about them.

He is expected to move on shortly to a call for Congress to tighten gun laws.

Edward Helmore

My colleague Ed Helmore is at the site of Saturday’s mass shooting in Buffalo, and sent this dispatch about the importance to the predominantly Black community of the supermarket where it happened:

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Tops Friendly on Jefferson Avenue in East Buffalo was more than just a grocery store. It served as community center, a place to hang out, a source of employment – and a spot for healthy sustenance unavailable at bodega stores in an area described as the oasis in a food desert.

In the three days since Tops became the carefully targeted site of a mass shooting and was closed indefinitely, community groups, local advocates, western New York’s emergency food network, corporate donors, churches and even Tops staff have scrambled to fill the gap.

“It was everything to us. It was the heart of Jefferson,” said Jeanette Simmons, a former Tops cashier who said she had left Tops on Saturday when she heard the first gunshots. Ever since, she was finding it hard to cope. “It’s been difficult to sleep, eat, shop – everything. He took everything from us.”

Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York.
Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York. Photograph: John Normile/Getty Images

Simmons was standing in line at an emergency food distribution center run by the Resource Council of WNY and Feedmore WNY on Ferry Street, 10 minutes from Tops – which, although shuttered, had also set up a food distribution and counselling center nearby, and was offering a bus service to another location.

Simmons said she was worried about the store remaining closed, in part because of the stimulating effect it had on other local businesses. “They paved the way for us to have things on Jefferson. I loved everything about Tops. Some people can’t afford to go way out to get food.”

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The site is currently an FBI crime scene. Given the death and devastation allegedly caused by the suspect Payton Gendron, some regular Tops clientele may not want to return.

“I don’t want to go back in there. I knew most of the people who worked there,” said Erma Ecford. “Friday he [Gendron] was in the store. He was right there by the water when I was getting my pop. If he did it then he would have taken a lot more people out, because the store was crowded.”

Read more:

The FBI has opened a federal hate crime investigation into last week’s shooting at an Asian-American owned hair salon in Dallas that wounded three women.

The Dallas FBI field office is working with the US attorney’s office for the northern district of Texas, and the US justice department’s civil rights division, the Associated Press reports.

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Last Wednesday’s shooting, at the Hair World salon in the city’s Koreatown neighborhood, occurred three days before Saturdays racist massacre of Blacks at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and four days before one person was shot dead and five others wounded at a Taiwanese church in California.

A suspect is in custody, the Dallas police department said.

FDA approves Covid-19 booster for children 5-11

The food and drug administration (FDA) has approved a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot for children aged five to 11, the agency announced Thursday.

The FDA already recommends boosters for those 12 and older, and the authorization of a booster for young children on top of their recommended two-shot dose is expected to help improve protection against the virus as the BA.2 and other subvariants send case numbers upwards again nationwide.

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The agency says the third shot for elementary-age children kids is recommended at least five months after their most recent dose.

The shots, however, are not immediately available. Final approval must come from the federal centers for disease control and prevention (CDC), whose regulators meet on Thursday.

The only Covid-19 vaccine currently available for children of any age in the US is Pfizer, with those five to 11 receiving one-third of the adult dose, the Associated Press says.

The Pfizer vaccine for children, right, and the vaccine for adults, left.
The Pfizer vaccine for children, right, and the vaccine for adults, left. Photograph: Rogelio V Solis/AP

A group of Black students suspended for attempting to protest Confederate flag displays at their high school in Georgia are suing their school district, the Associated Press reports.

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The district and its board members allowed “overt bigotry and animosity by some white students and teachers against African American students,” the lawsuit alleges.

The planned protest at Coosa high school in Rome was stifled last fall, when administrators suspended four Black students who tried to organize it.

The lawsuit claims that students in the conservative district, which is represented in Congress by the extremist Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, were permitted to wear Confederate flags on their clothing, but prohibited from displaying Black Lives Matter material.

It further states that the school’s principal threatened one of the Black students with jail for “instigating a riot” if the protest went ahead.

School board officials say they will defend the lawsuit, the AP says, but would not comment further.

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Senior Democratic figures and gun reform activists are weighing in with calls for Congress to tighten gun restrictions in the wake of the Buffalo massacre. Joe Biden will use his lunchtime speech today at the site of Saturday’s mass shooting to press politicians for action.

Here’s former president Barack Obama, who in 2013 declared as “shameful” lawmakers’ refusal to act after the slaughter of 20 children and six educators in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting:

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This weekend’s shootings in Buffalo offer a tragic reminder of the price we pay for refusing to curb the easy access to guns. It should also serve as a wakeup call for all Americans of goodwill, regardless of party.

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 16, 2022

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From California congressman Eric Swalwell, a vocal gun reform supporter:

My 4-year-old just FaceTimed to ask what I’m doing to “help the people in Buffalo” and “why did the bad man do this?” Absolutely gutting. This cannot be his normal. It’s time to BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS. #EndGunViolence

— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) May 16, 2022

From Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was among the 17 victims of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Florida:

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You can’t call yourself pro-life & do nothing about gun violence. My daughter Jaime wanted to become a mother. It would have been her choice. Because of the failure to protect her life, she will never get the chance. She would have been a great mother. pic.twitter.com/FtS043WFiu

— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) May 16, 2022

From Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren:

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I’m heartbroken for the Buffalo community. We must condemn racist domestic terrorist attacks. This horrific tragedy is not an isolated incident. Violent domestic extremism motivated by hate is an urgent threat, and exacerbated by weak gun laws. Congress must act.

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 15, 2022

From former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg:

The horrific mass shooting in Buffalo is another tragic demonstration of the need for stronger gun laws – and more accountability for those in media and politics who have been elevating white supremacy theories that inspire these hate-filled atrocities. https://t.co/QXGDKvYlOa

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— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) May 15, 2022

Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have arrived in Buffalo, where they laid flowers at a makeshift memorial for the 10 victims of Saturday’s grocery store massacre.

They are about to meet privately with families of the victims, survivors, and first responders. Also present are New York’s governor Kathy Hochul, senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, Buffalo mayor Byron Brown and state and local officials, the White House says.

The president will deliver an address at about 1pm.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit the scene of Saturday’s supermarket shooting to pay respects and speak to families of the victims.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit the scene of Saturday’s supermarket shooting to pay respects and speak to families of the victims. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP
Ed Pilkington

Ed Pilkington

An alleged white supremacist cited the racist “great replacement” theory in a manifesto posted online attempting to justify his massacre of the 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

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Here, my colleague Ed Pilkington takes an in-depth look at the discredited conspiracy theory that has found favor with numerous Republican figures, including congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Fox News host Tucker Carlson:

On Saturday, a white man armed with an AR-15-style rifle entered a supermarket in Buffalo in New York state and killed 10 people, almost all of whom were African American. The gunman is suspected of having posted a 180-page racist diatribe in which he repeatedly referenced the extremist conspiracy theory known as the “great replacement”.

The Buffalo shooter drew heavily on the white supremacist rantings of the gunman in the 2019 massacre at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 51 people were killed. His similarly hate-filled statement was titled “The Great Replacement”.

At its heart, the theory claims falsely that white people are being stripped of their power through the demographic rise of communities of color, driven by immigration. The lie has been integral to many of the most horrifying recent acts of white supremacist violence in the US.

Far-right protesters at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which led to the killing of a woman, chanted “You will not replace us”. Replacement theory featured in the rants of mass shooters at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018 in which 11 people were murdered; a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in which 23 were killed in 2019; and a synagogue in Poway, California, the same year in which one person died.

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Replacement theory is a set of racist and antisemitic paranoid lies and delusions that has cropped up around the world in the past decade. In the US it is expressed as the false idea that an elite cabal of Jews and Democrats is “replacing” white Americans with Black, Hispanic and other people of color by encouraging immigration and interracial marriage – with the end goal being the eventual extinction of the white race.

Read the full story here:

The White House says Joe Biden will host Sweden’s prime minister Magdalena Andersson and Finland’s president Sauli Niinisto in Washington DC on Thursday as the two Nordic nations pursue membership of Nato.

European security in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the two nations’ application to join the mutual defense alliance, will be on the agenda, according to a White House statement just released.

The summit will take place before Biden embarks on a four-day trip to South Korea and Japan.

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Biden to call for stronger gun laws during Buffalo visit

Joe Biden will visit a makeshift memorial at the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, this morning before meeting privately with survivors and families of the 10 people killed in a mass shooting on Saturday.

The president and first lady Jill Biden also plan to speak with first responders and local officials before Biden delivers remarks at a nearby community center at lunchtime calling on Congress to pass stricter gun laws, as well as urging Americans to reject racism.

Talking to reporters aboard Air Force One just now, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden was outraged by the shooting, and gave a preview of his address:

The president will call this despicable act for what it is, terrorism motivated by a hateful and perverse ideology that tears at the soul of our nation.

He will call on all Americans to give hate no safe harbor and to reject the lies of racial animus that radicalize and divide us and led to the act of racist violence we saw on Saturday that took the lives of 10 Americans.

Advertisement
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President Biden will call on Congress to take action to keep weapons of war off our streets and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people who have a serious mental illness that makes them a danger to themselves or others.

It remains to be seen if there is renewed appetite in the Senate for stronger gun laws in the wake of the Buffalo shooting and similar recent deadly hate attacks, including one at a California church on Sunday.

Republicans have repeatedly blocked efforts to introduce measures overwhelmingly popular with the US public. Jean-Pierre said:

We’re going to continue to call on Congress to expand to expand background checks, renew our ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and confirm Steve Dettelbach to head the ATF [bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives].

Biden made gun controls a plank of his election campaign, but has been frustrated by a divided Congress. Last month, he announced plans to crack down on so-called “ghost guns”.

Advertisement

Derrick Johnson, president of the national association for the advancement of colored people (NAACP) said the president’s visit to Buffalo was more than an exercise in grieving:

It’s important for him to show up for the families and the community and express his condolences. But we’re more concerned with preventing this from happening in the future.

We’ll bring you plenty more from the Bidens’ visit to Buffalo as it happens.

Biden heads to Buffalo to meet victims’ families

Good morning, and welcome to Tuesday’s US politics blog.

Joe Biden is on his way to Buffalo, New York, to meet families of the victims of Saturday’s racist attack at a grocery store that claimed 10 lives.

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The president has called the mass shooting by an alleged radicalized white supremacist “terrorism motivated by a hateful and perverse ideology”. He and first lady Jill Biden will meet victims’ families, local officials and first responders this morning, and deliver remarks at lunchtime.

Meanwhile in Congress, Democrats are resurrecting efforts to pass the domestic terrorism prevention act in the wake of the Buffalo shooting and other recent hate crimes. The law would give the justice department more tools to tackle white supremacy in particular.

Here’s what else we’re watching today:

  • It’s primary day in several states, and Donald Trump’s grip on the Republican party will be tested in several key races, notably in Pennsylvania. His choice for Senate nominee, TV doctor Mehmet Oz, faces a stiff challenge from an even more extremist candidate, Kathy Barnette, and one from the mainstream, David McCormick.
  • Voters in Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon and North Carolina are also at the polls, and my colleague Lauren Gambino will have coverage of the day’s events later this evening.
  • Homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will visit the US-Mexico border in Texas amid uncertainty over the Biden administration’s efforts to terminate the Trump-era Title 42 policy that blocked refugees because of Covid-19.
  • Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will address a joint meeting of Congress, with vice-president Kamala Harris in attendance.
  • The House intelligence subcommittee will hold a public hearing this morning to investigate UFOs, or, more accurately, “unexplained aerial sightings” by the US military. Two Pentagon officials will give testimony.





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