​Unchecked racist rhetoric leads to heinous violence

Courtesy of NNPA

The victims of the racist massacre at a Buffalo, New York supermarket on Saturday, May 14 have been identified. Their ages range from 32 to 86.

The names of the 10 victims are Celestine Chaney, 65; Roberta Drury, 32; Andre Mackneil, 53; Katherine Massey, 72; Margus Morrison, 52; Heyward Patterson, 67; Aaron Salter, 55; Geraldine Talley, 62; Ruth Whitfield, 86, and Pearl Young, 77.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown called the massacre an unimaginable nightmare. Erie County Sheriff John Garcia framed the onslaught as pure evil.

The avowed racist killer Payton Gendron allegedly put together a 180-page manifesto that revealed his hatred for Black and Jewish people and the “replacement theory” ideology that Fox News often speaks of, notably hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.

Additionally, several Republican politicians have spouted the racist “theory,” saying that Democrats’ immigration policies would “replace” GOP voters with individuals of color. New York Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Ohio GOP hopeful JD Vance recently have been outspoken in supporting “replacement theory.”

Stefanik used the concept in her 2021 campaign ads, saying, “Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a permanent election insurrection.” Vance, a Donald Trump-endorsed candidate, recently ratcheted up the rhetoric.

“You’re talking about a shift in the democratic makeup of this country that would mean we never win, meaning Republicans would never win a national election in this country ever again,” Vance claimed at a campaign event last month.

Vance’s defeated opponent, Josh Mandel, also ran on “replacement theory”: “This is about changing the face of America, figuratively and literally,” Mandel stated in a published interview. “They are trying to change our culture, change our demographics and change our electorate. This is all about power,” he said.

So far, the only Republican politician of note to call out the racist rhetoric is Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney. “The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism,” Cheney wrote on Twitter. “History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”

Gendron’s live-streamed shooting spree left 10 dead and several more wounded. But, unlike the multitude of unarmed Black people killed during encounters with law enforcement, the young White racist is alive to plead not guilty or “insanity” in court.

MGN Payton Gendron, the suspect who allegedly gunned down multiple people in a mass shooting in a Buffalo supermarket. He reportedly targeted Black lives.

“While past violent White supremacist attacks seem to have factored into this heinous act, we must acknowledge that extremist rhetoric espoused by some media and political leaders on the right promoting theories that vilify or dehumanize segments of our society like ‘the great replacement theory’ is a factor too,” wrote U.S. House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson in a statement.

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell added that the organization condemns both the White Supremacist terrorist attack targeting Black men and women in Buffalo and the racist rhetoric that has sparked such violence.

“The constant repetition of White Supremacist conspiracy theories on social media and even mainstream media outlets has led to horrific violence in places as distant as Christchurch, El Paso, Oslo, and Charleston,” Mitchell asserted. “Those who promote racism, White Supremacy, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of bigotry must be held accountable for the violence they inspire.”

Mitchell added that CAIR has often spoken out against those who promote the “great replacement” and other racist conspiracy theories.

Mayor Brown told reporters that Gendron surveilled both the community and the grocery store as part of the attack’s planning. He said the teen surveilled the area for several days and targeted a busy place in an area predominantly populated by Black people.

His manifesto noted that “zipcode 14208 in Buffalo has the highest Black percentage that is close enough to where I live.”

According to the U.S. Census, the zip code is 78% Black and among the top 2% of zip codes nationwide with the highest concentration of Blacks as a percentage of the population. It has the highest concentration of Blacks as a percentage of the population of any zip code in upstate New York.

“Well, this manifesto tells everything to us,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “And that is what’s so bone-chilling about it, is that there is the ability for people to write and subscribe to such philosophies filled with hate.” 

“The White Supremacist acts of terrorism are being fomented on social media… What this one individual did has been shared with the rest of the world as well as the live-streaming of this military-style execution that occurred in the streets of my hometown.”

Vice President Kamala Harris said, “Law enforcement is proceeding with its investigation, but what is clear is that we are seeing an epidemic of hate across our country that has been evidenced by acts of violence and intolerance. We must call it out and condemn it.

“Racially-motivated hate crimes or acts of violent extremism are harms against all of us,” she asserted, “and we must do everything we can to ensure that our communities are safe from such acts.” 

 Stacy M. Brown is an NNPA Newswire senior national correspondent.