Biden, lawmakers condemn white supremacy after Buffalo mass shooting

·6 min read

Democrats in Washington, D.C. called on lawmakers to take action to combat hate, domestic terrorism and gun violence in the nation in wake of Buffalo shooting.

Following Saturday’s deadly and racially-motivated mass shooting that left 10 dead in Buffalo, New York, President Joe Biden and members of Congress are condemning white supremacy and calling for action to address domestic terrorism in the United States.

“A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation,” Biden said in a White House statement.

“Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America,” he continued. “Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Russia and Ukraine from the Roosevelt Room of the White House on April 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Russia and Ukraine from the Roosevelt Room of the White House on April 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The White House statement was released hours after a white nationalist gunman, identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron, entered a Tops Friendly Market Saturday afternoon when he shot shoppers and employees.

A total of 13 people were struck, leaving 10 dead and three others injured. A majority of the victims were Black.

Law enforcement authorities said the shooter was wearing military gear and live streamed the incident online.

The suspect is in police custody and was arraigned on first-degree murder charges, to which he pleaded not guilty, according to the New York Times. He allegedly left behind a manifesto, filled with racist and anti-immigrant views, and had the n-word painted on the barrel of his gun.

As Buffalo residents mourn over the tragedy that struck their community, federal officials are reacting to the hate-filled incident.

The Department of Justice announced it is investigating the mass shooting as a hate crime. FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials are “working closely” with local law enforcement, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

“The Justice Department is investigating this matter as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism,” Garland said. “The Justice Department is committed to conducting a thorough and expeditious investigation into this shooting and to seeking justice for these innocent victims.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland, accompanied by Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke, right, speaks at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, to announce that the Department of Justice is opening an investigation into the city of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attorney General Merrick Garland, accompanied by Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke, right, speaks at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, to announce that the Department of Justice is opening an investigation into the city of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Members of Congress also spoke out against the racist attack, specifically calling out white supremacy.

“This is unmistakably a racially motivated extremist attack by a white supremacist. We’re praying for the family and community of those killed and injured,” U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York tweeted.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Bowman’s fellow member of “The Squad,” in a tweet called white supremacy and gun violence “grave threats to all of our communities and the brutal, hateful, and targeted shooting in Buffalo is devastating.”

The Massachusetts congresswoman also called on lawmakers to respond to the moment with legislation.

“Praying for everyone impacted. It is so far beyond time for Congress to act and save lives,” she wrote.

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) (R) speaks as Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) (L) listens during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol December 8, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) (R) speaks as Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) (L) listens during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol December 8, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, said in a tweet he was “sickened” over the mass shooting.

“Heartbroken for the victims who were slaughtered in Buffalo and their loved ones. Sickened by the persistence of racism and the poison of white supremacy. Determined to make sure that hate never wins,” he said.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who appeared to reference a similar 2015 mass shooting inside of a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, similarly condemned white supremacy and the threat it poses in the United States.

“Heartbreaking that Black folks can’t grocery shop, go to church, march against police brutality w/o being targeted by white supremacists,” Tlaib wrote. “White supremacy gets a pass in our country. Prayers are not enough. We need courage + the will to take on white supremacy as the threat it is.”

Photographs of the nine victims killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina are held up by congregants during a prayer vigil at the the Metropolitan AME Church June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Photographs of the nine victims killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina are held up by congregants during a prayer vigil at the the Metropolitan AME Church June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Addressing the rising issue of white domestic terrorism has been a big topic in Washington, particularly after the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in 2021.

Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed that white supremacists were among the hundreds arrested in connection to the Capitol attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump in opposition to Biden’s election victory.

Last year, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Wray acknowledged that racist extremism was a serious focus of the FBI’s overall work.

During his inaugural speech, Biden pledged to confront and defeat the “rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism” being seen in the country.

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