Tops Supermarket Shooting Survivors Sue Facebook, YouTube, And Twitch's Owners For Shooter's 'White
Tops Supermarket shooting victims marked the first anniversary by suing social media giants that fed the shooter "white supremacist propaganda."
Source: Kent Nishimura / Getty
Last May, a white supremacist targeted Tops, the only grocery store in a Black neighborhood, to commit a deadly hate crime. Peyton Gendron fatally shot 10 Black victims and wounded three others.
Mainstream media regularly paints white domestic terrorists as lone wolves, denying the depths of their racist roots. A new lawsuit holds social media platforms and weapons manufacturers responsible for the violence.
A sprawling lawsuit that hit the owners of Facebook, Google and more says a slew of social media companies fed the convicted Buffalo supermarket shooter "white supremacist propaganda."https://t.co/2ZCVXpoGPN
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) May 12, 2023
HuffPost reports that survivor Latisha Rogers took action against entities that allegedly enabled or profited from the hate crime. That includes tech companies accused of doing both through hate speech moderation policies and execution, or lack thereof.
The Tops Supermarket Shooter Is Serving A Life Sentence, But That's Just One Step Toward Justice
It takes a village to raise, indoctrinate, and arm domestic terrorists like Payton Gendron. Before he turned an assault rifle on Tops shoppers and staff, he got plenty of resources, supplies, and encouragement for his attack.
The white gunman shot 13 people; all ten people he killed were Black. He pleaded guilty to 15 state charges, including the ten counts of first-degree murder. Judge Susan Eagan sentenced him to life without parole in February 2023.
Eagan called the pre-meditated attack "a reckoning" for the U.S. She cited the origins "founded and built, in part, on white supremacy."
Tops Supermarket Victims Sue Social Media Sites, Firearm Sellers, And Shooter's Parents
Attorney John Elmore leads the new lawsuit to make the country safer from the Gendrons of tomorrow. Elmore also represents the families of three victims who lost their lives:
"Andre Mackneil, a 53-year-old father of five who was buying a birthday cake for his 3-year-old son's birthday party when he was killed; Katherine 'Kat' Massey, 72, a retired teacher; and Heyward Patterson, 67, a deacon at State Tabernacle Church of God and a retired security guard."
Attorneys from the Giffords Law Center and the Social Media Victims Law Center are partnering with Elmore's firm, which also includes John's daughter Kristen Elmore Garcia. @WGRZ
— Robert Hackford (@Robert_Hackford) May 12, 2023
The lawsuit lists Meta (Facebook), Amazon (Twitch), Google (YouTube), Snap (Snapchat), Discord, Reddit and "hate-filled" 4Chan as defendants.
Elmore's office took the case in partnership with Matthew Bergman's Social Media Victims Law Center.
Bergman claims Gendron "was motivated to commit his heinous crime by racist, antisemitic, and white supremacist propaganda fed to him by social media companies.
"These posts led him down a rabbit hole of increasingly radical sites, where he was indoctrinated in white supremacist replacement theory and violent accelerationism," Bergman said.
"This horrible crime was neither an accident nor coincidence, but rather the foreseeable result of social media companies' intentional decision to maximize user engagement over public safety."
In addition to checking racist radicalization at the source, the complaint calls out an armor manufacturer, a firearms store, a gun accessories manufacturer, and Gendron's parents for enabling the violence.
Gun-lock maker's device helped Buffalo shooter duck New York's ban on murder weapon, AG says in lawsuit
NY AG sues Mean Arms over Payton Gendron's Buffalo massacre https://t.co/1dciDjfmmC
— Bug,Stev (@BugdenSteven) May 12, 2023
The civil suit immediately follows New York Attorney General Letitia James suing accessories manufacturer Mean Arms. The company sells a workaround for New York law, where assault weapons are banned.
Even The Tops Supermarket Shooter Blamed Social Media For Inspiring His Hate Crime
In Gendron's own words, rampant racist propaganda inspired his domestic terror attack. The AP reports Gendron confessed he "shot and killed people because they were Black.
"I believed what I read online and acted out of hate, and now I can't take it back, but I wish I could, and I don't want anyone to be inspired by me," he continued.
Heartshattering. Leandra Elliot the daughter of Andre Mackneil, will experience her 1st Mother's Day without her father.
She found out she was pregnant when she was burying her father. @WGRZ pic.twitter.com/mvsDVYLzsL
— Robert Hackford (@Robert_Hackford) May 12, 2023
White supremacist conspiracies like Tucker Carlson's Fox News favorite, the "great replacement theory," inspired the killer's manifesto.
While constantly consuming the hate, the teen never stopped to think critically about these ideas. He obsessed about being replaced in society by Black people. However, he had to drive more than 200 miles from his Conklin, NY home to reach a Black community.
As long as companies continue to profit from the spread of hate and weapons of war, we'll never truly see justice for victims, just more tragedies like Buffalo.