National JACL Statement

JACL Statement in Wake of Tragedy in Buffalo

JACL Calls For National Action to Combat White Supremacy in the Wake of Recent Tragedy in Buffalo

Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs,

Matthew Weisbly, Education & Communications Coordinator,

On May 14 in Buffalo, New York, 10 people were murdered in a supermarket in an attack perpetrated by a self-identified white supremacist. This is sadly yet another attack that has affected communities of color in the last several years; a grim reflection of the history of our nation, in which white supremacy has been an ever-present and violent institution. 

In a manifesto that the attacker posted online prior to the shooting were references to the ?Great Replacement,? a conspiracy theory built upon an anti-Semitic lie that states that Jews are intentionally replacing white Americans with minority populations. This dangerous ideology has been cited by other mass shooters in the past and was one of the major factors behind the anti-Semitic massacre in Pittsburgh in 2018, and the attack on an immigrant community in El Paso in 2019. The ?Great Replacement? was also responsible for many of the racist views that led to the scapegoating of Japanese Americans in the lead-up to their incarceration during WWII. 

Also incredibly troubling is the role that the internet played in radicalizing the murderer, providing the propaganda of misinformation and hatred as well as the forum to broadcast his despicable acts in real-time. Virtual content platforms must be more proactive to stop the spread of hate and extremism. The shooter did not act independently, but with the support of a broad network of encouragement, that has been allowed to flourish online. 

White supremacy continues to be a dangerous terrorist movement that threatens our country and our safety. It must be addressed at all levels from individuals to institutions, to politicians, in order to continue to protect the communities which are the most impacted by these atrocities. Attacks like these are sudden, violent, and intended to evoke fear and helplessness within us, but we refuse to be intimidated. 

Prosecution alone will not stop this hatred, it must be at all levels within our county, both public and private. Efforts must be directed towards prevention of the spread of misinformation, education on racial issues, and proper training for response and reporting groups, and should include language access to ensure minority communities are able to effectively provide crucial information to the institutions that are sworn to protect them. We will continue to fight against these threats and demand swift and responsible action from our elected officials, law enforcement professionals, and corporate leaders to hold those who spread this rhetoric accountable and to eventually stop hate crimes.