NAACP committee chairman says Buffalo attack shows need for urgent action

On Saturday, a gunman opened fire at a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people and injuring three others. Prior to the attack, the shooter published a 180-page document filled with racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Michael Curry, chairman of the NAACP Advocacy and Policy Committee, joined Boston Public Radio to discuss white supremacy in the United States and the racism behind the attack, in which 11 of the 13 victims were black.

“The rhetoric that came out of this young man’s writing and his belief was really the hatred that we’ve allowed to fester over the last few years – really, for the history of this country – but [that] really came to a head under the last presidency,” he said. “We let it go unchecked.”

In his writings, the shooter cited the “Great Replacement,” a racist conspiracy theory that claims non-white people are brought into the United States in order to make white people a minority, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The conspiracy theory is often cited in white supremacist groups online, but it has also been mentioned by conservative TV commentators and politicians in recent years.

Curry said he’s not surprised that this ideology is growing in young white people like the Buffalo shooter.

“He or she might be sitting around thinking, ‘OK, I have to stand up for my country or my people for my race,'” Curry said. “If we don’t check this, there will be many more incidents like this.”

The NAACP President wants to see more accountability and action around white supremacist extremism.

“We haven’t approached it with the same kind of urgency that we have to,” he said. “I think maybe this shootout in Buffalo could be a tipping point for all of us that we need to put him down. We have to find him. We need to deprogram the people walking around with this replacement theory garbage and hopefully prevent the next mass shooting.

Curry serves as chair of the NAACP Advocacy and Policy Committee and president and CEO of the Mass League of Community Health Centers.

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