Shock, misunderstanding and anger after weekend racist shooting in New York State

“Some of us are very angry” launched Pastor T. Anthony Bronner, during a vigil in front of the parking lot of the Tops supermarket where a young person, equipped with an assault weapon and a bulletproof vest, fired on Saturday afternoon making ten dead and three injured.

Eleven of the victims were black people and two were white, in this predominantly African-American neighborhood of Buffalo, a northern city on Lake Erie, on the border with Canada.

Joe Biden will go there on Tuesday “to share the pain of a community that lost ten of its own in a horrific and senseless mass shooting”announced the White House.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for his part strongly condemned this killing, which he described as an act “despicable racist and violent extremism”his spokesperson said on Sunday.

A large crowd gathered on Sunday at the scene of the tragedy, praying, laying wreaths of flowers and chanting the word “unity” while another vigil was held at a church where Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said to himself “devastated” in the face of this “racist and violent attack”.

Payton Gendron, charged with killing 10 people in Buffalo, in a photo distributed by Erie County, May 14, 2022 Erie County District Attorney/AFP/Handout.

The gunman identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron drove more than 300 miles from his upstate Conklin home to carry out the massacre, even carrying out “a reconnaissance operation” the day before the incident, according to the authorities.

“How can an 18-year-old boy get a gun?”exclaimed to AFP Derryl Long, born in Buffalo and living in the neighboring town of Chautauqua.

“I can’t understand what was going through that man’s head, to drive three hours here, to this (supermarket) Tops because he knew it was a black neighborhood “continued, Mr. Long, 67.

“Stain on America’s Soul”

“This individual came with the objective of killing as many black people as possible”summarized Byron Brown during a press conference.

“The evidence we have gathered so far leaves no doubt that this is a racist hate crime and will be tried as such.”said Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaglia.

the “hate crime” means in the United States an act directed against a targeted person because of elements of his identity such as race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or disability. Considered an aggravated federal offence, it carries harsher sentences.

“We must work together to fight the hatred that remains a stain on America’s soul,” hammered Joe Biden in Washington on Sunday.

Payton Gendron threatened to kill himself before surrendering to law enforcement. Prosecuted for “premeditated murder”he pleaded not guilty during a first appearance before a judge.

The young man carried a camera and broadcast his crime live on Twitch even though the platform claimed to have deleted the content “two minutes” after the start of its broadcast.

He also published a “manifest” of 180 pages of a racist nature before the facts, according to the American media.

The Buffalo News newspaper also revealed that an offensive, racist and taboo word in the United States to designate black people had been painted in white on the barrel of the weapon.

“Domestic Terrorism”

“It was domestic terrorism, pure and simple”said New York Attorney General Letitia James, who traveled to Buffalo to attend the vigil.

“Social networks allow this hatred to ferment and spread like a virus”denounced for her part the governor of the state of New York, Katy Hochul, a native of Buffalo.

This racist killing is reminiscent of two others: that of El Paso in Texas in 2019 where 23 people were killed by a far-right activist, including eight Mexicans and people “Hispanics”and that of Charleston in South Carolina where a white supremacist had killed nine African-American worshipers in a church in 2015.

In both cases, hateful manifestos had been posted online before the attacks.

A day after this killing, a church in California was attacked. One person died and four seriously injured in a shooting whose motivation is not yet known.

Shootings in public places are almost daily in the United States and gun crime is on the rise in major cities such as New York, Chicago, Miami or San Francisco, especially since the 2020 pandemic.

Several initiatives by elected officials to strengthen gun laws have failed in Congress in recent years, with the powerful NRA gun lobby remaining highly influential.

Shock, misunderstanding and anger after weekend racist shooting in New York State