Two mass shootings over the weekend show that racial violence and hatred have always had their place in the United States
In one weekend, 11 Americans lost their lives to racially motivated gun violence, and for most citizens who were not personally affected by the shootings, it was business as usual.
On Saturday, May 14, the country was again rocked by the deadly effects of white supremacist ideology, combined with the frustrating lack of gun control.
That day, residents were taking advantage of an afternoon to shop in a supermarket, unaware of the violence that was brewing.
Around noon, Payton Gendron, of Conklin, New York, arrived outside Tops Friendly Market, located in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo.
At 2:30 p.m., Gendron was wearing a body armor and recording via a helmet camera when he opened fire.
The shooter was broadcasting the shooting to a small audience on the digital streaming platform Twitch. The platform reportedly deleted the video less than two minutes after it was posted.
According to the police, Gendron started shooting in the parking lot. Once inside the market, he killed a security guard and then proceeded to target customers in the aisles.
At one point, which was seen in the video, he pointed his gun at another white guy who was hiding behind the checkout counter, but he didn’t fire and said, “Sorry!”
When police arrived on the scene, Gendron put his gun to his own neck, but decided to go instead and drop the gun as officers demanded.
The 18-year-old killed 10 people, most of whom were black. After examining 672 pages of messages posted by Gendron, the Washington Post discovered that this incident had been carefully planned.
Ignorant people in my TL saying “stop making Buffalo race shots”.
He identified as a white supremacist, targeted black people, believed “replacement theory” propaganda, and had written “NI**ER” on his AR-15. It’s all about race, no matter how much you bleach it
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) May 15, 2022
As early as December 2021, Gendron planned to assassinate those he considered “replacements,” which references a racist conspiracy theory that open immigration policies and high black birth rates “displace » white voters.
Gendron’s messages revealed that the Buffalo Tops store was “Attack Zone 1” due to its ethnic makeup. He also identified two other locations in the area as places to “shoot all black people.” The plans were detailed, with all areas mapped out and exact times given for when the attacks will occur. Gendron also estimated that at least 30 people will be killed.
In a separate 180-page manifesto that Gendron reportedly posted online, he repeatedly referred to the extremist “great replacement” theory.
The theory encourages a paranoid set of racist and anti-Semitic lies, including the myth that an “elite group” of Jews and Democrats are replacing white Americans with blacks, Hispanics and other people of color, with the intent to “exterminate” the white race. .
This visual tribute is dedicated to the victims of the Buffalo mass shooting and murder. Honor them. pic.twitter.com/hPpJl54NEc
— Jen White-Johnson 🗣✊🏽 (@jtknoxroxs) May 17, 2022
Other online messages posted by Gendron showed that he had visited the Tops supermarket on several occasions, researching the ethnic composition of shoppers.
According to the messages, there were “lots” of black people inside the grocery store, including two security guards carrying guns. Gendron wrote about an incident where one of the security guards confronted him after entering the store for the third time in one day.
“I saw you come in and out…what are you doing?” he was asked. Gendron replied that he was “collecting consensus data”.
President Joe Biden condemned the shooting, calling it an act of racist terrorism.
“We must say with as much force and clarity as possible that white supremacist ideology has no place in America. Nothing. Silence is complicity,” Biden said in a statement.
In another shooting on Sunday, May 15, David Wenwi Chou, 68, of Las Vegas, killed one person and injured five at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, California.
Chou left notes in his car in Chinese stating that he did not believe Taiwan should be independent from China.
Currently, China views Taiwan as a breakaway province that has become increasingly aggressive in maintaining its sovereignty. On the island, the emotions surrounding its relationship with China are so heated that most open debate is avoided altogether.
According to police, Chou’s handwritten note in Mandarin denotes his issues with the way he was treated while residing in Taiwan.
Another mass shooting is being investigated as a hate crime.
David Wenwei Chou, 68, California church shooting suspect is a Chinese national believed to have been motivated by hatred of the Taiwanese people https://t.co/ETz6frkg8E
—Natasha Fatah (@NatashaFatah) May 17, 2022
China claims Taiwan as part of its national territory. Taiwan has no seat in the United Nations and is only officially recognized by a small number of countries, but many states around the world have unofficial diplomatic relations with it.
Tensions have recently risen between China and Taiwan over Beijing’s military exercises in the East China Sea.
Barnes said the shooter drove from Vegas to Laguna Woods and secured the church doors with chains, super glue and nails before he began shooting.
“We believe, based on what we’ve found so far, that he specifically targeted the Taiwanese community, and that’s a representation of that Taiwanese community,” Barnes said.
At the scene, law enforcement found bags containing ammunition clips, as well as four bombs resembling Molotov cocktails. Officials also recovered two firearms, two 9mm semi-automatic pistols purchased legally in Las Vegas.
Many of the approximately 100 members of the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Irvine, which leases space from the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, are elderly Taiwanese immigrants. Those injured in the shooting were between 66 and 92 years old.
Dr John Cheng, 52, was hailed as a hero for acting quickly and attacking Chou, attempting to disarm him.
“He sacrificed himself so others could live,” Orange County Dist. Atti. Todd Spitzer said at a press conference.
Cheng, a family and sports medicine physician at Aliso Viejo, left behind a partner and two children. He was not a member of the church, but his father recently passed away and he attended church with his mother.
“Were it not for Dr. Cheng’s actions, there is no doubt that there would be many additional victims in this crime,” officials said.
I just learned that the person killed in the Laguna Woods shooting yesterday was my attending physician, Dr. John Cheng. Absolute hero. He attacked the shooter and helped save so many in this church. I just wanted his name to be known. We will miss him. pic.twitter.com/jAW8LvpmaB
— Johnny Stanton (@johnnystantoniv) May 16, 2022
Chou has since been arrested and is being held at the Orange County Admissions Release Center on $1 million bond. He is charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder.
In the wake of these two racially motivated shootings, Black and Taiwanese communities across the country are reeling from the loss of life, the invasion of their inherent right to safety, and the persistence of racism, prejudice and hatred.
Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Sentiments: An Asian-American Calculationreflected on the violence over the weekend, referring to the attack on Korean women in Dallas, and the shootings in Buffalo and Laguna Woods, saying living in the country is “being in constant mourning”.