The Rev. Al Sharpton on Tuesday called for a national strategy to combat hate and racism, claiming that the alleged shooter in Buffalo, N.Y., was “radicalized” by extremist language and discourse online.
Sharpton, a civil rights activist, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that leaders need to address the root causes of the mass shooting in Buffalo, including the proliferation of hate and violent messages on social media.
“We need a White House summon. We need to set a national strategy on how we deal with hate and how we hold those accountable [who] in any way advance what happened in Buffalo,” Sharpton said. “It didn’t just drop out the sky. It happened because it was methodically organized.”
Payton Gendron, 18, is suspected of opening fire at a grocery store in the upstate New York city on Saturday, injuring 13 people and killing 10. Eleven of the victims were Black.
Gendron published a manifesto on social media forum 4Chan in which he ranted about the a white nationalist “great replacement theory,” which posits that white Americans are being replaced by growing numbers of minorities for political gain.
The tragedy, which follows other mass shootings in recent years in El Paso, Texas, at several nail salons in Georgia and at a Pittsburgh synagogue, led to renewed cries to address hate and racism in the country.
“What truly needs to be replaced in this country is ignorance and hate, which is driving division, perpetuating lies, and killing our neighbors,” Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), said in a statement earlier this week.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) — both vocal critics of former President Trump — said that Republican leadership in Congress is not doing enough to combat bigotry.
“The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse,” Cheney said in a Twitter post. “@GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”
Luis Hernandez, the executive director of Youth Over Guns, told The Hill that President Biden should establish a committee to fight white supremacy.
“The community needs commitment, real commitment, about what he’s going to do, plans that he will implement, and things that he will work with the state and local government to make happen,” Hernandez said.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Congress should pass a bill that “supports the prosecution of hate crimes against Black people.”
“What happened on Saturday was an act of domestic terrorism,” Crump said in remarks he published on Twitter, “perpetrated by a young white supremacist. There is no question about his intention.”
Sharpton told “Morning Joe” that he expected this was not the last time a shooting like this would happen, pushing politicians to act.
“What we cannot do is go from Buffalo to the next,” he said.