WASHINGTON (AP) — A grocery store in Buffalo. A nightclub in Orlando. A Walmart in El Paso: All sites of hate-fueled violence against Black, Hispanic or LGBTQ Americans over the past five years. And all somber symbols of a “through line” of hate that must be rooted out, President Joe Biden said Thursday.
Biden pointed to new federal efforts to help schools, local law enforcement agencies and cultural institutions prevent and respond to such violence. He also called on Congress to impose stronger transparency requirements on social media companies, whose platforms allow anonymous hate to proliferate hate.
Among the attendees Thursday was Susan Bro, whose daughter Heather Heyer was killed at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. In remarks introducing Biden, Bro spoke about how losing her daughter was part of a bigger story.
“Her murder resonated around the world. But the hate did not begin nor end there,” Bro said. “While my daughter’s death received so much national and international attention, all too often these hateful attacks are committed against people of color with unacceptably little public attention.”
Other attendees included Sarah Collins Rudolph, who lost an eye and still has pieces of glass inside her body from a Ku Klux Klan bombing that killed her sister and three other Black girls at a Birmingham, Alabama, church 59 years ago. And the family of Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man from Arizona who was killed in a hate crime four days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
Law enforcement officials across the country are warning and being warned about an increase in threats and the potential for violent attacks on federal agents or buildings in the wake of the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.
“We must stand together and we must clearly say that a harm against any one of us is a harm against all of us,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in her opening remarks Thursday. “We are at an inflection point in our history, and indeed, our democracy. Years from now, our children and our grandchildren, they’re going to ask us, ‘What did you do in that moment?’”