WASHINGTON, DC–On Saturday, a white supremacist committed a senseless act of violence in Buffalo, N.Y., shooting and killing 10 people in what authorities called “racially motivated violent extremism.” The following is a statement from Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:
“My heart breaks for the people of Buffalo and for the loved ones of those who were murdered and injured in this intentional act of hate. People nationwide have been quick to offer them support and prayers. But we must also promise them action.
This tragedy was not an anomaly, but the latest instance in a long, painful history of white supremacist violence in America. The same ideology that fueled this shooter is the same that killed Ahmaud Arbery, James Byrd, Jr., Lt. Richard W. Collins III, and Emmett Till. It is the same evil that took the lives of Black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015; attacked Freedom Riders in Anniston, Alabama exactly 61 years to the date; and lynched thousands of men, women, and children for centuries.
We must take a stand against this rising tide of racism and the way in which it has been weaponized to deadly effect. Lawmakers must do more to hold accountable those who enable, amplify, and protect those engaged in racist rhetoric and violence. Tech and media corporations who enable and profit from hate online and on the airwaves must do more to prevent hate groups from using their platforms to organize and mobilize. Every elected official must speak out against racist hate and disavow white supremacists and hate groups. No more soft-pedaling and apologizing for hatred. No more excusing bigotry in the halls of government under the rhetoric of free speech. This is no time to sit on the fence. The time to act is now.
The response to this latest violent and racist attack will, like those before it, be a test of whether America thinks Black people are worthy of its collective empathy and deserving of protection. It will be a test of whether America believes our lives really do matter.”
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.
About the James Byrd Jr. Center to Stop Hate – The James Byrd Jr. Center to Stop Hate, a project of the Lawyers’ Committee, supports communities and individuals targeted for hate and challenges white supremacy by using creative legal advocacy, disrupting systems that enable white supremacy, and educating the general public and policy makers. For more information please visit: https://www.lawyerscommittee.org/project/stop-hate-project/