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‘Dominant Culture’ of Racial Hatred at Core of Mass Shootings in Jacksonville and Buffalo

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‘Dominant Culture’ of Racial Hatred at Core of Mass Shootings in Jacksonville and Buffalo

A racially motivated shooting in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday bore a striking resemblance to the hate-driven massacre in Buffalo last year.

In Florida, three Black people were killed at a Dollar General before the white, 21-year-old gunman killed himself. He reportedly left behind notes detailing his hatred of Black people.

Last year, 10 people were killed and three injured when a white 18-year-old gunman live-streamed a mass killing at a Tops supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

In both cases, the shooter was a young white man who targeted Black people, had swastikas drawn on their guns, and authored racist, hate-filled written messages.

Mark Talley’s mother was one of the victims in the Buffalo mass shooting last May. He feels for the families, he said, for what they are going through and what they are about to go through.

“It's hard to bury your loved ones knowing they were basically killed because a white man woke up that day or woke up several weeks ago and decided he wanted to kill Black people. And unfortunately, he killed the first ones he saw, which unfortunately was their loved ones,” he said.

Talley, executive director of the organization Agents for Advocacy, said the political climate has allowed racist mass shootings to proliferate.

“I don't know why people are shocked at a state in which the governor himself has shown to have some type of racist agenda against minorities, particularly, you know, African Americans,” Talley said. “You had the governor (Ron) DeSantis in which he openly criticized and wanted to ban all type of, you know, AP African American history classes."

These are the kinds of conversations that have been going on for decades and generations, Talley said, yet the country’s brutal history of racial oppression is just as alive today as it was in the 1950s.

‘No counter-indoctrination'

Charles Bonner, a civil rights lawyer who grew up in Selma, Alabama, also cast blame on DeSantis.

“There's blood not on his hands, but there's blood all over his body starting with his face,” Bonner said. “Because he is enabling this kind of massacre to occur by failing to take active and proactive affirmative actions to educate children against this violence, against this evil, and it is hurting the white community as well.”

Bonner, who represents survivors and families of the Buffalo mass shooting, said anti-Black hatred has been woven into the fabric of society since the 1600s, and that has enabled young white men to be indoctrinated by white supremacy and carry out atrocities.

“What's tragic, is that there's no counter-indoctrination, no counter-education. There’s no, for example, classes in nonviolence. Young white men need classes in nonviolence,” he said. “And instead, we have politicians in the Republican parties, particularly the Florida government is trying to erase African American history.”

Earlier this month, Bonner’s law firm filed a lawsuit against online companies including YouTube, Reddit, and Google for their role in creating algorithms that the suit alleges promote and circulate violence and extremism.

“Social media as well as the dominant culture is responsible for these heinous crimes going back to 1619 when Black people were first kidnapped and brought here,” he said. “We've been victims of carnival-style mass murder ... and unprovoked gratuitous racism and racial violence.”

Attorney Terry Connors, who represents several Buffalo survivors and victims’ families, said there are multiple factors that contribute to the amount of hate crimes and mass shootings in the U.S.

“There has to be, you know, some evaluation of the educational process, some evaluation of the level of white supremacy that's invaded our society, there has to be an examination of our gun laws,” Connors said. “There's just so many things that have to be done.”

Connors hopes an investigation into the Jacksonville shooting will turn up answers on what can be done to prevent further racist atrocities, he said.

“I think it's important to get to the root of what was the motivating factor for the individual in Jacksonville, by looking at his manifesto and finding out what he was doing online, and who was encouraging or enabling him,” he said. “All of those factors need to be examined thoroughly because this has to stop.”

According to a nonprofit research group called Gun Violence Archives, there have been more than 475 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year.

This story is originally from our friends at WXXI