In shock, residents of the city of Buffalo in New York state paid tribute on Sunday to the ten people killed the day before in a supermarket, the majority of them African-Americans, by a white man in a shooting described by authorities as “a racist hate crime”.
“Some of us are very angry,” said Pastor T. Anthony Bronner, during a vigil in front of the Tops supermarket parking lot where a young man, equipped with an assault weapon and a protective vest bullets, fired on Saturday afternoon, killing ten and wounding three.
Eleven of the victims were black people and two were white, in this predominantly African-American neighborhood of Buffalo, a northern city on Lake Erie, on the border with Canada.
Joe Biden will go there on Tuesday “to share the pain of a community that lost ten of its own in a horrific and senseless mass killing,” the White House announced.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for his part strongly condemned the killing, which he described as a “despicable act of racist and violent extremism”, his spokesperson said on Sunday.
A large crowd gathered at the scene of the tragedy on Sunday, praying, laying wreaths and chanting the word “unity” while another vigil was held at a church where Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said he was “Devastated” by this “racist and violent attack”.
The shooter identified as Payton Gendron, 18, drove more than 300 km from his residence in Conklin in the south of the state to carry out the massacre, even carrying out “a reconnaissance operation” the day before the incident, according to the authorities.
“Stain on America’s Soul”
“This individual came with the objective of killing as many black people as possible,” summarized Byron Brown during a press conference.
“The evidence we have gathered so far leaves no doubt that this is a racially motivated hate crime and will be prosecuted as such,” said Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaglia.
“Hate crime” in the United States refers to an act directed against a targeted person because of elements of their identity such as race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or disability. Considered an aggravated federal offence, it carries harsher sentences.
“We must work together to fight the hatred that remains a stain on the soul of America,” Joe Biden hammered in Washington on Sunday.
Payton Gendron threatened to kill himself before surrendering to law enforcement. Prosecuted for “premeditated murder”, he pleaded not guilty during a first appearance before a judge.
The young man carried a camera and broadcast his crime live on Twitch even though the platform claimed to have deleted the content “two minutes” after the start of its broadcast.
He also published a 180-page racist “manifesto” before the facts, according to American media.
The Buffalo News newspaper also revealed that an offensive, racist and taboo word in the United States to designate black people had been painted in white on the barrel of the weapon.
New attack in a California church
A day after this killing, a church in California was attacked. One person died and four seriously injured in a shooting whose motivation is not yet known.
Shootings in public places are almost daily in the United States and gun crime is on the rise in major cities like New York, Chicago, Miami or San Francisco, especially since the 2020 pandemic.
Several initiatives by elected officials to strengthen gun laws have failed in Congress in recent years, with the powerful NRA gun lobby remaining highly influential.
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