US Buffalo mass shooter sentenced to life in prison with white supremacy bashed

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, February 16, 2023
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A man lays a bouquet mourning for the victims of a mass shooting in Buffalo of New York State, the United States, May 16, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

The 19-year-old man Payton Gendron, who committed the mass shooting last May in Buffalo of the U.S. state of New York, was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Wednesday as expected while white supremacy got bashed at court.

Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan announced the sentence based on 10 counts of first-degree murder and a single count of domestic terrorism motivated by hate, which carries a penalty of life imprisonment without parole.

Domestic terrorism motivated by hate

"There is no place for you or your ignorant, hateful and evil ideologies in a civilized society. There can be no mercy for you. No understanding. No second chances. The damage you have caused is too great and the people you have hurt are too valuable to this community. You will never see the light of day as a free man ever again," said Eagan.

Fueled by racist conspiracy theories, Gendron drove about three hours from his home to a Black-predominated community in Buffalo and shot multiple individuals in and around a Tops grocery store on May 14, 2022, which resulted in the deaths of 10 African Americans, as well as injury to three others.

In November 2022, Gendron pleaded guilty to the highest charges in the indictment against him including one count of domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree, ten counts of murder in the first degree, three counts of attempted murder in the second degree as a hate crime and one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.

Gendron was the first person in New York State convicted of that domestic terrorism charge, which was passed in 2020 and mandates life in prison without an opportunity for parole.

Gendron made a brief apology on Wednesday, saying he was "very sorry" for the attack and blamed online content for the shooting rampage.

"Our client is responsible for committing this crime. He will spend the rest of his life locked away and he will eventually die in state prison. We hope that knowing that he will never be free again will offer some small bit of comfort to those that he's hurt so much," said Brian Parker, one of Gendron's attorneys, after the announcement of the sentence.

Moreover, Gendron faces federal charges, which carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment or death penalty.

A number of family members of the victims and survivors made victim impact statements at the court and the processing was once interrupted as a man charged the defendant in the courtroom.

Racism deep-rooted

"Our black and brown brothers and sisters endured centuries, not years, centuries, of oppression as they built our buildings and produced our crops by which the foundation of this country was built on. They continue to endure oppression... They continue to endure micro aggressions. They continue to have their families gunned down simply because of the color of their skin," said Stephanie, sister of survivor Jennifer Warrington, who was injured in the shooting.

Parker said this case highlights a much deeper problem and Gendron's violent, hate-filled assault was in part the product of centuries of pervasive racism, which needs to be addressed.

"This hateful act and other similar hateful acts across the country motivated by white supremacy and replacement theory are a reckoning for us as a nation. The ugly truth is that our nation was founded and built in part on white supremacy," said Eagan in the sentence.

Eagan recounted white supremacy acts in U.S. history like the treatment of Native Americans by the first European settlers, the cruel, inhumane economic engine nation building practice of slavery, indentured servitude, Jim Crow laws, government policies creating segregated public housing with communities of color and many other social injustices.

Eagan said, "Our history is replete with both individual and systemic discriminatory practices, many of them still firmly in place today. In fact, it is these very policies and practices that contributed to and made this atrocity possible. The effects of these policies, some current and others, decades and centuries old, created the segregation in our city and enabled this defendant to research and identify his target to maximize the impact of his evil intent."

"The harsh reality is that white supremacy has been an insidious cancer on our society and nation since its inception, and it undermines the notions of a meritocracy and the land of opportunity that we hold so dear. However, white supremacy is not inevitable or unstoppable. It has been carefully cultivated and nurtured by individuals and the government for centuries," added Eagan.

"Unfortunately, neither this proceeding, nor any criminal trial can expose or address the historical racism that set the stage for our client's horrible acts. We as a community need to have those conversations in our legislative bodies, in their living rooms to achieve any sort of meaningful change," said Parker.

Stephanie stressed the beauty of diversity saying "We are stronger together. Diversity makes us beautiful."

Parker noted that the racist hate motivating this crime was spread through online platforms, and the violence was made possible by the easy access to assault weapons.

Eagan warned that "we must acknowledge that history. See that history for what it is. Recognize it and learn from it. Or we are doomed to repeat it."

Eagan urged individuals to call out injustice in daily lives and reject racism in all of its forms.

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