Shock, misunderstanding and anger after racist killing in New York State

In shock, residents of the city of Buffalo, New York, paid tribute on Sunday to the ten people killed the day before in a supermarket, the majority of them African-Americans, by a white man, in a shooting described by authorities as “a racially motivated hate crime.”

• Read also: Buffalo Shooting: Racist Crime Streamed Live on Twitch

“Some of us are very angry,” Pastor T. Anthony Bronner said during a vigil in front of the Tops supermarket parking lot where a young man, equipped with an assault weapon and a body armor. bullets, fired on Saturday afternoon, killing ten and wounding three.

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

Shock, misunderstanding and anger after racist killing in New York State

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

The shooter, identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron, drove more than 300 miles from his home in Conklin, in the south of the state, to carry out the massacre, even carrying out “a reconnaissance operation” the day before the facts, 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 nearby town of Chautauqua.

Shock, misunderstanding and anger after racist killing in New York State

“I can’t understand what could have been going on in that man’s head, to drive three hours here, until [supermarché] Tops because he knew it was a black neighborhood,” Mr. Long, 67, continued.

“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 racially motivated hate crime and will be prosecuted as such,” said Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaglia.

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

Shock, misunderstanding and anger after racist killing in New York State

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

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, broadcasting his crime live on Twitch, even though the platform assured that it had deleted the content “two minutes” after the start of its broadcast.

In addition, he published a 180-page racist “manifesto” before the facts, according to American media.

Shock, misunderstanding and anger after racist killing in New York State

According to New York Times, citing this “manifesto”, the suspect was “inspired” by crimes committed by white supremacists, including the 2019 massacre of 51 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The newspaper buffalo news revealed that an offensive, racist and taboo word in the United States for black people had been painted in white on the barrel of the gun.

Payton Gendron had already been the subject of a police investigation last June, after making threatening remarks in his high school, detailed Commissioner Gramaglia. He had undergone a psychological evaluation in a hospital. No charges had been brought against him.

“Domestic Terrorism”

“It was domestic terrorism, plain 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,” said New York State Governor Katy Hochul, a native of Buffalo.

Shock, misunderstanding and anger after racist killing in New York State

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

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

Shootings in public places are almost daily in the United States, and gun crime has been on the rise in major cities, such as New York, Chicago, Miami and 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.

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