U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer on Monday blasted those he described as purveyors of “replacement theory,” which he credited with having a strong influence on the 18-year-old perpetrator of a racially motivated mass shooting that killed 10 people and wounded three others Saturday at a Tops supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo.
“First, the victims on Saturday were not targeted at random, nor was this particular grocery store in this particular neighborhood of Buffalo a haphazard selection. It was not. No, this was a racially motivated attack,” Schumer said in prepared remarks on the floor of the Senate Chambers.
Schumer added that he will accompanying President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden Tuesday on a visit to Buffalo “to pay his respects to those who died, as well as to visit the families, and visit with local officials still investigating the attack.”
He said the goal of the shooting suspect, whom Schumer did not mention by name, was to “kill as many Black Americans as possible.”
“The East Side community where the shooting occurred is strong in faith, and I know it, along with the entire city and region, will overcome this tragedy,” Schumer said.
Schumer noted that years ago he, along with many others, worked hard to bring the store to the East Side community, which was then a total food desert in need of a full-fledged supermarket for its residents.
“I know many in the community shop at that grocery store, whether to buy food on their way home from church or before the Bills games. It’s where people see friends and relatives and catch up on things between errands. It has become a community center,” said Schumer.
“Now I don’t know what could possess someone to bring violence to a place like that. What I do know is that the weekend’s shootings is part of the ugly is part of an ugly pattern, one that dates to the earliest days of this nation,” he continued.
Schumer said the shooter made a deliberate choice by seeking his victims in the most predominantly Black neighborhood in the region. He noted that, online, the suspect proudly professed himself to be “a neo-fascist, white supremacist and anti-Semite,” and that he extensively shared online his embrace of a dangerous ideology known as the “great replacement,” which asserts that a conspiracy exists to replace white Americans with immigrants and people of color.
“Not long ago, views like replacement theory were only found in the darkest places in deranged minds. Then they became to be found in hardly-viewed places on the internet and on chat rooms that most Americans never visit. To most Americans, these ideas are transparently repugnant, an affront to our core values,” Schumer said.
In recent years, he said, echoes of replacement theory and other racially motivated views are increasingly out into the open, and given legitimacy by some on the far right, including cable news pundits.
“The message is not always explicit, but we’ve all seen the pattern,” Schumer said.
“Every time MAGA Republicans or pundits vilify … immigrants and call them invaders, every time they falsely claim that millions of undocumented people cast ballots in our elections, every time loud, bigoted voices bemoan the disintegration of an imagined classic America, the subtext is clear,” he added.
Schumer took specific aim at Fox News.
“In a craven quest for viewers and ratings, organizations like Fox News have spent years of perfecting the craft of stoking cultural grievance and political resentment that eerily mirrors these messages found in replacement theory,” he said.
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Schumer also mourned the victims of Saturday’s violence.
“We weep, knowing nothing, nothing will ever be able to bring them back,” he said. “We mourn with their families and with their friends, and with the entire community still shell shocked by the shooting.”
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