So now Buffalo, located high in the state of New York, near the Niagara Falls, at the gates of Canada. Another city joins the long list of American communities in which an apparently right-wing extremist killed people. This time it hit ten men and women who were in and around the “Tops” supermarket on Saturday – in the middle of an African-American neighborhood. Three other people were injured. In addition to the ten killed, three people were injured. Of the 13 victims, 11 were black and two were white, authorities said.
The perpetrator: a heavily armed white 18-year-old man named Payton G. He was heavily armed and wore a bulletproof vest and helmet. G. was arrested and charged with murder on Saturday. The alleged motive of the perpetrator: hatred of Afro-Americans, i.e. racism. He faces further hate crime charges, which could result in a life sentence.
But first Buffalo mourns, the USA mourns – again. Memories are awakened of the 2015 massacre at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine African Americans were killed during a Bible study. And the anti-Semitic attack by a right-wing extremist on the synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, in which eleven people were killed. Recently, deadly violence against people of Asian descent in the USA, for example in Atlanta and Dallas, has occurred several times. Hate crimes have become a sad reality in recent years.
According to the police, the Buffalo shooter filmed his act of violence and broadcast it live on the Internet. His murder weapon was legally acquired but had been modified, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said. The perpetrator first shot four people in the supermarket parking lot; three of them died. Then the 18-year-old went to the supermarket and continued to fire around. Among the dead is a retired police officer who worked there as a security guard. Although the man shot the attacker multiple times, the man was able to return fire because he was wearing a bulletproof vest, police said.
“It was clearly a racially motivated hate crime by someone from outside our community,” Erie County Sheriff, which includes Buffalo, John Garcia said. He called the attack “pure evil”.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the perpetrator “traveled hours from out of town to commit this crime.” The 18-year-old turned the gun on himself when police arrived at the scene, but police said he was eventually persuaded to surrender. According to US media reports, the authorities are investigating a detailed “manifesto” by the perpetrator, which is said to have been published online before the shooting and in which the man explains his intentions and his racist motives.
US President Joe Biden was briefed on the “horrific gun attack” in his native Wilmington, Delaware, his spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said. He is constantly kept up to date and prays for the victims and their families. Biden attended a Catholic service at his home church on Saturday night. Biden later on Saturday called the act “disgusting.” Any act of domestic terrorism is “contrary to everything we stand for in America.” Everything must be done “to end domestic terrorism fueled by hate.”
The perpetrator live-streamed his gory attack on Twitch, a live-streaming website owned by Amazon, police said. Twitch said it took the broadcast offline. A Twitch spokeswoman vowed “a zero-tolerance policy against violence of any kind.”
The shooting is being investigated both as a hate crime and as a “case of racially motivated violent extremism,” said Stephen Blodgett of the Buffalo Bureau of the FBI.
As usual after such shootings, there are calls for stricter gun laws. Little has happened here lately. The Republican Party, closely linked to the gun lobby, is opposed to stricter measures. Moderate Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger wrote on Twitter: “The only solution is stricter gun laws that keep dangerous guns out of dangerous hands.”
The Buffalo shooting also shows “why we shouldn’t play around with white nationalism.” The “we” applies to everyone, but especially to his own party. Kinzinger is no longer running for Congress in November and is a critic of ex-President Donald Trump.
New York Gov. Hochul said the perpetrator was a right-wing extremist who committed a “terrorist act”. She sincerely hopes that this person who just committed a hate crime will spend the rest of their days behind bars, the Democrat said. Hochul called for stricter regulation of social networks. There right-wingers would spread their ideologies and get almost intoxicated.
Buffalo’s bloody attack fits a pattern. Last year, FBI director Christopher Wray warned of the threat posed by racist, violent extremists. Such cases made up the bulk of the FBI’s domestic terrorism investigation, he told Congress.
Racially motivated violent extremists are responsible for the deadliest attacks in the past decade, Wray told a Senate committee. Since September 11, 2001, right-wing extremists have killed more people in the USA than Islamist fundamentalists.
For many years, Democratic politicians have accused ex-President Trump of preparing the ground for white nationalist violence. Trump had relativized the far-right rally in Charlottesville in 2017. He also indirectly called on his extremist supporters to storm the US Capitol in 2021 in order to sabotage the results of the 2020 presidential election. FBI Director Wray told Congress in 2021 that the January 6 riot was not an isolated one and “the problem of domestic terrorism has been spreading across the country for a number of years.”