In Buffalo, Biden condemns racism and mourns victims

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have traveled to Buffalo, New York, to show solidarity with the community after a white supremacist targeted Black people at a supermarket and left 10 people dead.

Associated Press

May 17, 2022, 3:32 PM

Updated 789 days ago

Share:

In Buffalo, Biden condemns racism and mourns victims
President Joe Biden on Tuesday condemned the poison of white supremacy and said the nation must “reject the lie” of the racist “replacement theory” espoused by the shooter who murdered 10 black Americans in Buffalo.
Speaking to victims’ families, local officials and first responders, Biden said America’s diversity is its strength and the nation must not be be distorted by a “hateful minority.”
“In America, evil will not win, I promise you,” Biden said. “Hate will not prevail, white supremacy will not have the last word.”
Biden spoke after he and first lady Jill Biden paid their respects Tuesday at a makeshift memorial of blossoms, candles and messages of condolence outside the Tops supermarket, where on Saturday a young man armed with an assault rifle targeted Black people in the deadliest racist attack in the U.S. since Biden took office.
In Buffalo, the president was confronting anew the forces of hatred he frequently says called him back to seek the White House.
“Jill and I have come to stand with you, and to the families, we have come to grieve with you,” Biden said. He added: “Now’s the time for people of all races, from every background, to speak up as a majority and American and reject white supremacy.”
Replacement theory can be described as a racist ideology, which has moved from white nationalist circles to mainstream, that says white people and their influence are being intentionally “replaced” by people of color.
Biden’s condemnation of white supremacy is a message he has delivered several times since he became the first president to specifically address white supremacy in an inaugural speech, calling it “domestic terrorism that we must confront.” However, such beliefs remain an entrenched threat at a time when his administration has been focused on addressing the pandemic, inflation and the war in Ukraine.
The White House said the president and the first lady will “grieve with the community that lost 10 lives in a senseless and horrific mass shooting.” Three more people were wounded. Nearly all the victims were Black, including all of those who died.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are in Buffalo, New York to honor victims of the supermarket shooting.
On Monday, Biden paid particular tribute to one of the victims, retired police officer Aaron Salter, who was working as a security guard at the store. He said Salter “gave his life trying to save others” by opening fire at the gunman, only to be killed himself.
Upon arrival in Buffalo, The president and New York’s two senators were greeted by Gov. Kathy Hochul, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and local police and fire officials.
The shooter’s hateful writings echoed those of the white supremacists who marched with torches in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, a scene that Biden said inspired his decision to run against President Donald Trump in 2020 and that drove him to join what he calls the “battle for the soul of America.”
“It’s important for him to show up for the families and the community and express his condolences,” said Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP. “But we’re more concerned with preventing this from happening in the future.”
It’s unclear how Biden will try to do that. Proposals for new gun restrictions have routinely been blocked by Republicans, and racist rhetoric espoused on the fringes of the nation’s politics has only grown louder.
Payton Gendron, 18, was arrested at the supermarket and charged with murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
Before the shooting, Gendron is reported to have posted online a screed overflowing with racism and antisemitism. The writer of the document described himself as a supporter of Dylann Roof, who killed nine Black parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, and Brenton Tarrant, who targeted mosques in New Zealand in 2019.
Investigators are looking at Gendron’s connection to what’s known as the “great replacement” theory, which baselessly claims white people are being intentionally overrun by other races through immigration or higher birth rates.
The claims are often interwoven with antisemitism, with Jews identified as the culprits. During the 2017 “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, the white supremacists chanted “Jews will not replace us.”
“Many of those dark voices still exist today,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday. “And the president is determined as he was back then . . . to make sure we fight back against those forces of hate and evil and violence.”
In the years since Charlottesville, replacement theory has moved from the online fringe to mainstream right-wing politics. A third of U.S. adults believe there is “a group of people in this country who are trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants who agree with their political views,” according to a poll conducted in December by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Tucker Carlson, the prominent Fox News host, accuses Democrats of orchestrating mass migration to consolidate their power.
“The country is being stolen from American citizens,” he said Aug. 23, 2021. He repeated the same theme a month later, saying that “this policy is called the great replacement, the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from faraway countries.”
Carlson’s show routinely receives the highest ratings in cable news, and he responded to the furor Monday night by accusing liberals of trying to silence their opponents.
“So because a mentally ill teenager murdered strangers, you cannot be allowed to express your political beliefs out loud,” he said.
His commentary reflects how this conspiratorial view of immigration has spread through the Republican Party ahead of this year’s midterm elections, which will determine control of Congress.
Facebook advertisements posted last year by the campaign committee of Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said Democrats want a “PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION” by granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. The plan would “overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”
Alex DeGrasse, a senior adviser to Stefanik’s campaign, said Monday she “has never advocated for any racist position or made a racist statement.” He criticized “sickening and false reporting” about her advertisements.
Stefanik is the third-ranking leader of the House Republican caucus, replacing Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who angered the party with her denunciations of Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Cheney, in a tweet on Monday, said the caucus’ leadership “has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse.”
Replacement theory rhetoric has also rippled through Republican primary campaigns.
Although Biden has not spoken directly about replacement theory, his warnings about racism remain a fixture of his public speeches.
Three days before the Buffalo shooting, at a Democratic fundraiser in Chicago, Biden said, “I really do think we’re still in the battle for the soul of America.”
___
Associated Press writer Karen Matthews in New York contributed to this report.


More from News 12
1:05
Law enforcement: Bomb-making materials found in vehicle and home of Trump rally shooting suspect

Law enforcement: Bomb-making materials found in vehicle and home of Trump rally shooting suspect

1:17
HEAT ALERT: Partly cloudy skies, humidity and isolated showers in New Jersey

HEAT ALERT: Partly cloudy skies, humidity and isolated showers in New Jersey

4:10
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Trump rally attendee gives his eyewitness account of the shooting

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Trump rally attendee gives his eyewitness account of the shooting

2:37
Security increased at Trump Tower following rally shooting

Security increased at Trump Tower following rally shooting

2:27
Political analyst weighs in on gun violence in wake of Trump rally shooting

Political analyst weighs in on gun violence in wake of Trump rally shooting

1:29
Expert: Security will be a high level concern at presidential events in wake of Trump rally shooting

Expert: Security will be a high level concern at presidential events in wake of Trump rally shooting

2:03
Poll: More than 40% of women skip or delay medical screenings and appointments

Poll: More than 40% of women skip or delay medical screenings and appointments

0:28
Authorities: 2 people seriously injured in Cherry Hill crash

Authorities: 2 people seriously injured in Cherry Hill crash

0:12
Authorities: Car crashes through home in Plainfield

Authorities: Car crashes through home in Plainfield

1:34
Political analyst: Shooting at Trump rally will bring changes to 2024 Presidential Election

Political analyst: Shooting at Trump rally will bring changes to 2024 Presidential Election

1:36
Official: 2 children, adult killed in West Orange house fire

Official: 2 children, adult killed in West Orange house fire

0:37
Police: Missing Connecticut teenager located in New Jersey

Police: Missing Connecticut teenager located in New Jersey

0:18
Hillsborough police: Man burned in homemade firework explosion

Hillsborough police: Man burned in homemade firework explosion

0:46
Police: Shooting, 2 stabbings reported within 6 hours earlier this week in Atlantic City

Police: Shooting, 2 stabbings reported within 6 hours earlier this week in Atlantic City

0:21
Prosecutor: East Hanover man sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing wife

Prosecutor: East Hanover man sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing wife

1:57
Stop & Shop to close 10 ‘underperforming’ locations across New Jersey

Stop & Shop to close 10 ‘underperforming’ locations across New Jersey

1:45
Police: Driver faces charges for striking man in hit-and-run road rage incident in Fair Lawn

Police: Driver faces charges for striking man in hit-and-run road rage incident in Fair Lawn

1:52
AT&T security breach hits nearly all cellular customers and landline accounts

AT&T security breach hits nearly all cellular customers and landline accounts

1:16
Prosecutor: Bergen County pastor charged with 21 counts of sexual offenses against teen

Prosecutor: Bergen County pastor charged with 21 counts of sexual offenses against teen

3:06
Jury ends first day of deliberations in Sen. Bob Menendez's corruption trial without a verdict

Jury ends first day of deliberations in Sen. Bob Menendez's corruption trial without a verdict