Horrific news out of Buffalo, as reports of a white supremacist unleashing deadly havoc on a supermarket surfaced online Saturday afternoon.
Local news indicated that at least ten people were pronounced dead and three others were wounded. According to Buffalo News, the gunman, identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron, was dressed in body armor and had a high-powered rifle.
While some on the internet may rush to discount the possible racist motive for an attack on a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia confirmed the racist motive.
“It was,” he said. “Straight up, a racially motivated hate crime.”
Eleven of the 13 victims were Black. The Tops supermarket was located on Jefferson Avenue in a majority Black working-class community. New York Times reporter Evan Hill tweeted that the shooter was expected to be arraigned on first-degree murder charges.
Reports indicate Gendron left behind a manifesto. Leading disinformation experts have encouraged people to not share the live stream of the massacre or the manifesto out of concern for helping the extremist carry out his agenda.
The incident has drawn comparison to other mass shootings by white supremacists like the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh three years ago.
Democratic candidate for New York governor, Tom Suozzi, tried to politicize the situation by making it about needing to be tougher on crime instead of expressing concern for the families who lost loved ones and the tender way police arrested the suspected shooter.
Newsflash: Tough-on-crime policies tend to disproportionately impact the same communities targeted by white supremacists like the Tops Supermarket shooter.
Suozzi tried to capitalize on the horrific incident to take a jab at the current New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. Prior to the news of the Buffalo shooting, Hochul was quoted as describing the alleged success of her anti-crime measures.
Conversations about addressing mass shootings require more than tough on crime rhetoric. But also ignoring the way police always seem to manage to arrest white gunmen without incident is astonishing.
Far too many instances of Black and other people of color being killed in the last year alone raise questions as to how police managed to arrest a person who allegedly murdered at least ten people and injured at least three others. All without so much as a misplaced hair on his head.
Amir Locke, Patrick Lyoya and Cedric Lofton all deserved a modicum of the same respect for life that the Tops gunman received Saturday.
Dr. Anthea Butler reposted an article she wrote nearly seven years ago about the disparities between shooters of color and white shooters being positioned as “mentally ill.”
“In public discussions, black children often morph into potentially menacing adults after they’ve been victimized, while white mass shooters are portrayed as children, even if they’re well into their 20s,” wrote Butler.
There will invariably be those who try to distract from the horrific nature of this massacre by pointing to the false narrative of “Black-on-Black” crime or other forms of gun violence. But the act of terror inflicted on the surrounding community should not be overlooked at this moment.