Sunday, August 7, 2022

Buffalo shooting latest example of targeted racial violence

Black people going about their daily lives – then dying in a barrage of bullets fired by a white man who targeted them because of the color of their skin.

replace a supermarket in Buffalo, New York with a church in South Carolina, And Malcolm Graham knows the pain and sorrow of the families of those killed on Saturday. He knows to their dismay that racial bigotry has torn the fabric of their families.

“America’s Achilles heel continues… racism,” said Graham, whose sister, Cynthia Graham-Hurd, was fatally shot by white supremacist Dylan Roof in 2015 during a Bible study in Charleston. She was among the parishioners.

“As a country, we have to accept that it exists,” Graham said. “There is a lack of acknowledgment that these problems are persistent, embedded in the system and cost life.”

For many black Americans, the Buffalo shooting has stirred up the same feelings in the aftermath of the Charleston and other attacks: fear, vulnerability, the concern that nothing, politically or otherwise, will be done to prevent the next act of targeted racial violence.

Law enforcement officials said 18-year-old suspected gunman Peyton Gendron drove 200 miles from his hometown of Conklin, New York to Buffalo, and specifically targeted predominantly black neighborhoods.

Officers said he shot 11 black and two white men at a grocery store. Ten people died.

A 180-page document, authored by Gendron, gives the plan of the attack and references other racist shootings and ruffs. The document also outlines a racist ideology rooted in the belief that America should only belong to white people. All others, the document said, were “replacements” that must be terminated by force or terror. The aim of the attack was to intimidate all non-white, non-Christian people and force them to leave the country.

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The idea that the people killed at the Topps friendly market lost their lives because of the shooter’s racism is “sick,” said 29-year-old Steve Carlson, who is black and grew up knowing one of the victims, Katherine Massey.

“It’s not okay. You don’t choose what ethnicity you’re born into,” Carlson said. “These guys were just shopping, they went to get food for their families.”

At the State Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, Deacon Hayward Patterson is mourned during services on Sunday. Pastor Russell Bell could not wrap his mind around the attack and Patterson’s death.

“I don’t understand hating people just because of their color, hating people because we are different. God made us all different. This is what makes the world go round,” he said.

But as gruesome as the shooting was, it was hardly an isolated incident. The history of the United States is replete with white supremacist violence, with its beginnings predating even its official origins.

Black people have taken much of the brunt of this and continue to bear the brunt, but other groups have also been targeted in attacks because of their race, including Latinos in the 2019 shootings. At a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed.

Gunmen who are biased against religion and sexual orientation have also committed targeted violence: a San Diego synagogue shooting in 2019 and a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida in 2016.

Democratic Florida State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, who is gay and of Peruvian descent, immediately got flashbacks to the Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 victims. The shooter targeted gay patrons in a massive Latino crowd.

“It’s happened again in Orlando,” said Smith, who represents the Orlando district. “2016 seems like a long time ago, but in 2022 there’s a lot of hate and bigotry out there.”

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Experiencing violence of any kind is obviously painful, but the effects of such targeted violence have a wide-ranging ripple effect.

Michael Addison Hayden, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said, “To be targeted for these things you can’t control is not only extremely painful emotionally, but it also affects the way the world moves forward.” does.” for civil rights.

Hate crime laws are on the books in recognition of that reality. “The effect of events like this is “you’ve increased the vulnerability of everyone who looks like the target,” said Jeanine Bell, a professor at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law. “It’s a different type of crime because it’s not only affects not only the victims but also the community.”

Cornell Williams Brooks, a Harvard Kennedy School professor and former NAACP president and CEO, said that although there is always a hand-holding and frustration following such incidents, it has not translated into a commitment to address that bigotry.

He is tired of white supremacist threats and promises from political leaders to do more about gun violence.

“Count the number of sympathy cards and flowers, prayers and thoughts that have been given to the victims of mass shootings, the victims of racial violence,” he said. “Do we really need to show (politicians) our places of worship to help bury our people and do nothing to stop the genocide?”


Farrington reported from Tallahassee, Florida. Associated Press writer Carolyn Thompson contributed from Buffalo.


Hajela and Morrison are based in New York City and are members of the Associated Press’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter: And


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