New York Gov. Kathy Hochul expressed her anger and sorrow on Sunday about the racist massacre in Buffalo a day earlier, when an 18-year-old white man shot 13 people at a supermarket in a Black neighborhood, killing 10.
The Democratic governor spoke at True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo, her hometown where the admitted white supremacist livestreamed as he shot at people at the Tops Friendly Market on Saturday. All but two of the victims were Black.
“Lord, forgive the anger in my heart right now,” she said. “But to hear these stories and the pain that’s out there in the community that I love so well ― I’m angry.”
Hochul told attendees that while the community is currently feeling broken and “crushed in spirit,” the city of Buffalo will rise up and she will “use every bit of the power I have as your governor to protect you.”
“I want them to talk about Buffalo as the last place this ever happened. We will let this end right here, because we are gonna rise up,” she said. “And all of our white brothers and sisters need to be standing up as well in churches all across this state, all across this nation. Because an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us because we are all God’s people.”
The gunman, identified as Payton Gendron, had written a lengthy racist and anti-Semitic online manifesto detailing his support for a conspiracy that white supremacists call “great replacement” ― that white Americans of European ancestry are at risk of being replaced by nonwhite people due to immigration and interracial marriage. The conspiracy used to be considered a fringe right-wing belief, but has moved toward the mainstream thanks to extremist politicians and online platforms that enable hate speech.
“The CEOs of those companies need to be held accountable and assure all of us that they’re taking every step humanly possible to be able to monitor this information. How these depraved ideas are fermenting on social media ― it’s spreading like a virus now,” Hochul told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” “The white supremacy manifestos ― the white supremacy concepts of replacement theory where they’re concerned and now taking to the streets in places like Charlottesville and others, motivated by this idea that immigrants and Jews and Blacks are going to replace whites.”
“And that is spreading through social media platforms that need to be monitored and shut down the second these words are espoused out there in that ― these platforms. It has to stop, because otherwise there’s no stopping it,” she continued. “This incident here livestreamed, right behind me, the massacre of innocent people, military-style execution, was viewed by other people. This could result in others replicating the same. … I know it’s a huge, vast undertaking, but these companies have a lot of money.”
The governor also went after right-wing politicians and TV personalities, like Tucker Carlson, who have unabashedly spewed racial animosity and white supremacist rhetoric, fueling instances of racist mass violence like the 2019 massacre in an El Paso, Texas, store and the 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Hochul told Chuck Todd that conservative TV commentators like Carlson and political figures “need to be held accountable” just as much as tech platforms allowing white supremacy to grow.
“And any government leader that does not condemn this and condemn it today is a coward and they’re also partially responsible,” she said. “So let’s just be real honest about the role of elected leaders. And what they need to be doing is calling this out and not coddling this behavior and saying that, ‘Well, that’s just young people and they’re sharing their ideas.’”
“Yeah, I’ll protect the First Amendment any day of the week. But you don’t protect hate speech. You don’t protect incendiary speech. You’re not allowed to scream ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. There are limitations on speech,” she continued. “And right now, we have seen this run rampant. And as a result, I have 10 dead neighbors in this community. And it hurts, and we’re going to do something about it.”