In Buffalo, Biden condemns the “poison” of American white supremacy

BUFFALO, NY, May 17 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Tuesday condemned white supremacists, the media, the internet and politics for spreading racist conspiracy theories as he mourned the murder of 10 black people in Buffalo, New York.

“What happened here is simple and straightforward: terrorism, terrorism, domestic terrorism,” he said.

Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old white teenager, is accused of opening fire with a semi-automatic rifle in a predominantly African-American neighborhood of Buffalo. Authorities say he committed an act of “racially motivated violent extremism” at Tops Friendly Market on Saturday, when he shot 13 people. Gendron was jailed without bail for first degree murder. He pleaded not guilty.

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“White supremacy is poison. It’s poison – it really is – running through our body politic,” said Biden, who spoke moments after meeting with the families of the victims as well as the first stakeholders. “We need to say as clearly and forcefully as possible that white supremacist ideology has no place in America. None.”

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and other Biden officials have called white supremacist violence one of the biggest terrorist threats facing the United States, after related propaganda reached a record in 2020. read more

Investigators said they are reviewing Gendron’s online posts, which include a 180-page manifesto he allegedly authored that describes the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory that white people were intentionally replaced by minorities by through immigration to the United States and elsewhere. Read more

Biden took aim at the Replacement Theory, an idea with long historical roots in the United States that is now surging in some conservative political circles.

Biden did not articulate specific blame. Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson was singled out by Democrats on Tuesday for allegedly fueling the theory in hundreds of episodes of his show. Carlson called the Buffalo shooter “immoral” and “crazy.”

“Hate and fear are getting too much oxygen from those who claim to love America,” Biden said, blaming politics and profiteering.

“Now is the time for people of all races, from all walks of life to speak out as America’s majority and reject white supremacy,” he said.

Biden, joined by his wife, Jill, and various New York political leaders stopped at a memorial erected under a tree to pay their respects near the supermarket where the shots rang out.

The scene in Buffalo was all too familiar for Biden, who took over the role of chief comforter. He said in his speech that he knew something about what the families of the dead were going through, an apparent reference to the death of his son, Beau Biden.

Biden reminded Americans that he ran for president to restore America’s soul, following predecessor Donald Trump’s failure to speak out against a murderous white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and had taken office weeks after a deadly attack on the US Capitol that included racially motivated groups.

But the trip to Buffalo also showed how little Biden has done to stamp out the rise of white supremacist groups or curb gun violence, with many Republican lawmakers blocking efforts to advance gun control measures and the country suffering a wave of mass shootings in recent months. Read more

Biden has called on Congress to require new background checks on gun buyers and ban military-style “assault” weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. But Democrats who broadly support gun safety measures don’t have enough votes to pass them.

Biden told reporters before leaving Buffalo that he realized it would be difficult to pass legislation.

“It’s going to be very difficult but I’m not going to give up,” he said of the firearms measures.

A senior FBI official told Congress in November the bureau was conducting about 2,700 investigations related to domestic violent extremism, and the Justice Department said in January it was creating a new unit to combat domestic terrorism. .

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Reporting by Jeff Mason, Alexandra Alper and Trevor Hunnicutt; Written by Steve Holland; Editing by Heather Timmons, Bradley Perrett and Mark Porter

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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