After Buffalo Massacre, Civil Rights Leaders Pitch Anti-Hate Plans

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After Buffalo Massacre, Civil Rights Leaders Pitch Anti-Hate Plans
The NAACP has proposed policy aimed at preventing future acts of racist domestic terrorism that involves law enforcement, regulation and gun control.

The nation’s oldest civil rights organization said it will propose a sweeping plan meant to protect Black Americans from White supremacist violence in response to a hate-fueled massacre that killed 10 Black people in Buffalo, New York, last weekend.

In a plan first shared with The Associated Press, the NAACP suggests a policy approach to stopping future acts of anti-Black domestic terrorism that involves law enforcement, business regulation and gun control. The proposal points to measures that could be taken up immediately by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

Specifically, the plan calls for holding accountable any corporation that is complicit in the spread of bigotry and racism through news media and on social platforms, for enacting gun violence prevention measures that keep mass-casualty weapons out of the hands of would-be assailants and for reforming police practices so Black Americans experience the same de-escalation tactics often used to peacefully apprehend murderous White supremacists.

Saturday’s premeditated attack by an avowed racist on Black shoppers at the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo made it clear that “democracy and white supremacy cannot co-exist,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said.

He is scheduled to meet with Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday, a spokesperson for the civil rights group said.

The NAACP revealed its proposal as Black leaders across the country fret about inaction on the part of elected leaders to prevent domestic terror attacks by white supremacists against Black Americans. From Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Birmingham, Alabama, to Charleston, South Carolina, and Charlottesville, Virginia, generations of Americans have not seen the rising death toll from such violence met with urgent legislation to prevent or reduce the threat.

The Ku Klux Klan bombing that killed four Black girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham helped spur passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — historic legislation that outlawed segregation. It did not address the Klan’s violence.

And it had been 67 years after the murder of Emmett Till, a Black teen from Chicago who was kidnapped in Mississippi, lynched and dumped in a river after he was accused of whistling at a White woman, before Congress enacted an anti-lynching law. President Joe Biden signed the bill in late March, more than a year after using his inaugural speech to warn of the rise in White supremacist ideology and domestic terrorism.

As the coronavirus pandemic gave rise to anti-Asian hate crimes, Congress quickly enacted legislation that encourages reporting of such crimes. It also gave law enforcement more resources to handle increased reporting.

But now, in the wake of the White supremacist attack in Buffalo, Black civil rights advocates are wondering if they’ll see the same haste from lawmakers on anti-Black hate crimes. The House passed legislation late Wednesday night that would bolster federal resources to prevent domestic terrorism in response to the mass shooting. Supporters of the House bill say it will help officials better track and respond to the growing threat of white extremist terrorism. But the bill still has to receive approval from the Senate.

The NAACP’s policy proposal seeks systemic and institutional changes that look beyond just punishing racist domestic terrorists after they have carried out mass murder. The civil rights group takes to task Fox News, the cable news channel it accuses of using airtime “to sow bigotry and racism, create dissension, spread misinformation, and promote conspiracy theories that continually encourage violence.”

It also namechecked Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has openly discussed on air the baseless “great replacement” conspiracy theory cited by the Buffalo gunman. The conspiracy is a racist ideology, which has moved from White nationalist circles to mainstream, that says White people and their influence are being “replaced” by people of color.

The NAACP also called on advertisers, including the National Football League, to take a moral stand against the cable news outlet by withholding their ad dollars.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.