When former Buffalo, New York fire commissioner Garnell Whitfield Jr. lost his mother in a racist attack—the mass shooting at Tops Market last spring—his life took on a new meaning.
Whitfield says his life is now dedicated to speaking out against white supremacy and the gun violence epidemic plaguing the country. To honor his mother, Ruth Whitfield, and nine other Black people murdered in that May 14 shooting, Whitfield now speaks at churches and rallies calling for stricter gun control laws.
It’s been six months since the domestic terror attack took his 86-year-old mother. Whitfield told ABC News that it’s a pain he still endures. Along with his three siblings, he cares for their 88-year-old father who suffers from dementia and appears unaware that his wife was one of those slain in the racist rampage. The couple was married for nearly seven decades.
Garnell Whitfield, Jr. has used his position to advise national leaders. In June, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and plainly told members they should yield their positions if they aren't willing to confront white supremacy and the domestic terrorism it inspires.
Whitfield said his focus on speaking out helps him to manage the reality of his life, explaining, "So, being busy, and focusing on other things, helps me get through the day."