/  05.15.2022

Several civil rights organizations have responded to the racially-charged mass shooting that claimed the lives of at least 10 people and wounded three in Buffalo, New York on Saturday (May 14). 

According to Mayor Byron Brown, eleven of the victims who were shot by an alleged white supremacist at the Tops Friendly Markets store were Black members of the community. 

Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, issued the following statement:

“While details of the horrific shooting in Buffalo are still emerging, there are already strong indicators that the individual who allegedly carried out this attack was heavily influenced by white supremacist ideology, including the virulently antisemitic and racist ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory. Make no mistake: This is the same hateful antisemitic bile that inspired the shooters in Pittsburgh, Poway, El Paso and Charleston.

“This was yet another predicable attack by an avowed white supremacist who imbibed hateful conspiracy theories online and then turned to violent action, this time targeting mostly Black victims. We cannot remain complacent in the face of this continuing and serious national security threat. More must be done – now – to push back against the racist and antisemitic violence propounded by the far right.

“This shooting is a deadly reminder of the dangers of white supremacy, and the need to call out these hateful views at every opportunity. We need our elected leaders at all levels to have the political will to pass meaningful legislation that will hold anyone involved in spreading white supremacist conspiracy theories to account and to stop potentially violent terrorists before they commit a crime.

“We extend our thoughts and prayers to victims and their families of this horrific hate crime, and we stand in solidarity with the African American community at this difficult time.”

On behalf of the NAACP New York State Conference, President Hazel N. Dukes issued the following statement:

 “We offer our condolences to the families of the victims and to the entire Buffalo community. We’re in touch with Buffalo officials and our NAACP leaders, Buffalo Branch President, Reverend Mark Blue (who is on the ground), and Regional Director Linda Brown-Robinson. We are appalled at this horrific shooting. This unfortunate act of terrorism highlights the NAACP’s continued fight for sensible gun legislation that doesn’t just allow military-grade weaponry into the hands of everyday citizens. We stand ready to give assistance anywhere we can to the victims’ families and the Buffalo community. We will at a later time notify our supporters how they can further support the Buffalo community.”

Janai S. Nelson, President and Director-Counsel of the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), issued the following statement:

“We send our deepest condolences to the victims of the racially-motivated shooting targeting Black people in Buffalo, New York. This horrific rampage is another in the long line of distinctly American mass shootings that combine racism and gun violence. This is a deepening crisis for which we must be prepared to make all the necessary sacrifices to peacefully bring to an end the scourge of hate.

“Black Americans are the leading targets for hate crimes in our country, but we also continue to witness increases in anti-Semitic attacks, as well as violence against the Latino, Asian, Muslim, and LGBTQ+ communities. The frequency and intensity of this violence has been super charged in part by social media, which provides a virtually unchecked platform for hate speech and the encouragement of violent actions. And, as we have seen by the number of attacks that have been live streamed, a built-in audience for hate.

“Social media companies are not alone in having created this environment, however, as cable television has increasingly become a home for what were once seen as extremist views. Indeed, the Great Replacement Theory, which a shocking one in three Americans now believes to be true, has found a mainstream home on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program after being previously cited by four mass shooters – including those who committed the heinous crimes in Oslo, Norway; Christchurch, New Zealand; Dayton, Ohio; and El Paso, Texas.

“This is a time for action. Simply offering thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families will not prevent future attacks. It is imperative that elected officials take concrete steps to reduce online hate speech – including essential government regulation – and put forward serious legislation to put an end to gun violence in America. The public also has an important role to play in holding digital and media platforms accountable for the culture of hate and violence that they have coddled for too long.

“Unless we want to be a nation riven by increasing violence and terror, all of us – not just those of us who are the targets – must act now to end the propagation of hate speech and unchecked access to militaristic weapons that are trained on our communities.”

NAACP President Derrick Johnson also released a statement on the tragedy, stating that “hate and racism” should never be accepted in this country. 

“Our hearts are with the community and all who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy. Hate and racism have no place in America. We are shattered, extremely angered and praying for the victims’ families and loved ones,” the statement reads. 

Payton S. Gendron, the alleged shooter, surrendered to police Saturday (May 14) evening and was taken into custody. Authorities say he livestreamed the entire shooting and wrote a manifesto advocating for a race war. 

Gendron was charged with first-degree murder, prosecutors said, and pleaded not guilty in court.

 

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