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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On His Visit To Buffalo Today To Honor The Lives Lost To A Racially Motivated Murderer And Calling On Fox News To Stop Propagating The Same False, Racist Conspiracy Theories That Motivated The Shooter

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding his visit with President Biden to Buffalo to honor the lives lost to a violent, racially-motivated shooter and reiterated the need for the propagators of the some false and racist conspiracy theory that motivated the killer of ten innocent people to immediately stop their actions and condemn it. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

It has been a sorrowful, painful few days for the people of Buffalo, New York.

Earlier today, I joined with President Biden, the First Lady, Governor Hochul, Senator Gillibrand, Buffalo’s Mayor Brown, Attorney General Tish James, and other local officials to meet with families of those killed on Saturday, to visit the Tops Supermarket where the shooting happened, and to grieve with a community that has been ripped apart by unspeakable violence.

There is no single word to encapsulate what it was like to visit the Tops Supermarket, to lay down flowers in honor of the dead, and to meet the families whose lives have forever – forever – been torn apart.

It was equal parts sorrow for the innocent victims we’ve lost. It was grief for the families that must carry on. Today I met a young boy, only three years old, who lost his dad on Saturday because his dad was at the store buying his kid a birthday cake. Just heartbreaking.

It was also anger at knowing somebody could act with such horrible evil.

And yet, despite all that, it was hope. Hope that somehow, someway, this beloved community will find the will and the grace and the courage to cohere. I know – I know – in my heart of hearts that they will.

To the people in Buffalo I met today, I say this: all of New York and all of America stands with you in this hour of deep darkness. We love you, we hold you in our hearts, and we pray for each and every one of you. We will be with you in spirit at every prayer service and every march and in every moment of silence.

Today, we are all Buffalonians.

I just don’t know what could possess someone to bring violence to a place like the East Side. I just don’t. But what we do know is that each passing day, new and frightening details emerge about the lengths to which the shooter planned his attack.

We know that the shooter chose Tops Supermarket in order to target as many Black Americans as possible. It's a supermarket I know well. I helped bring it to the East Side decades ago because they were a food desert and needed a supermarket, and I persuaded the owners of Tops to open one.

And as the years grew, that supermarket became not just a supermarket, but a community convening place. And when that awful man went to Tops to do his terrible shooting, it was like putting a dagger in the heart of the community, because the supermarket had really meant much more than a supermarket.

And we know through online posts that the terrorist – that’s what he should be called –likely visited the Tops market months ago, in a reconnaissance mission to map out the store, to observe the security guards, even to find a parking spot. We know all that.

We know that had he gotten away, he intended to carry out more shootings at another store.

And one other thing we know. We know that his reprehensible views—his racist, white supremacist views—belong to an extreme ideology of hate that’s increasingly finding home in the American mainstream. In Buffalo, the President was right to strongly condemn these views with the whole nation watching. All elected officials – all elected officials – should do the same.

The Great Replacement—or replacement theory—used to be something that was found only in the darkest corners of deranged minds and in the deepest trenches of the internet.

But today, sadly, indisputably, you don’t need to go online anymore to find white replacement theory rhetoric. You can find it on cable TV, from the comfort of your own couch.

And perhaps no network has had more impact in propagating and normalizing the rhetoric of replacement theory than Fox News.

To follow up from my remarks yesterday, this morning I sent a letter to Rupert Murdoch, to Fox News executives, and to Tucker Carlson imploring the network and Mr. Carlson to cease their amplification of replacement theory on their network.

According to one study, Mr. Carlson has used rhetoric echoing replacement theory on at least 400 episodes of his show, 400 episodes, which has an average nightly audience of three million people.

It is dangerous and un-American for one of the biggest news networks in the world to amplify conspiracy theories that are eerily similar to those cited by the Buffalo shooter.

And to those who think this is exaggeration, to those who refuse to acknowledge that fringe white supremacist views are now increasingly out in the open, I would simply ask them:

Where were you on the night that thousands of white supremacists marched openly on the streets of Charlottesville, bearing torches and chanting “You will not replace us”? That's what they said, “You will not replace us.”

Where were you when thousands of insurrectionists stormed into the halls of this Capitol, waving Confederate Flags and donning sweatshirts about the Holocaust?

Where have you been during any Trump rally, where the Republican standard-bearer goes on and on about undocumented immigrants stealing the 2020 election, a message parroted by countless MAGA Republican candidates across the country?

And where were you when a white supremacist shot up a Walmart in El Paso, a synagogue in Pittsburgh, spas in Atlanta, a Black church in Charleston, and a grocery store in Buffalo, New York?

It should be the easiest thing in the world to denounce something as evil and vile and un-American as replacement theory. To its credit, this week the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board acknowledged that “Politicians and media figures have an obligation to condemn…such conspiratorial notions as ‘white replacement theory.’”

But while that is necessary it is hardly sufficient, and too many MAGA Republicans refuse to do even just that.

And last night, Tucker Carlson did not do that either. He deflected and refused to acknowledge that a clear connection exists between the messages on his shows and some of the views championed by these mass shooters.

He dismissed the shooter’s 180 page rant as the product of a “diseased and disorganized mind,” while omitting that this shooter’s mind was diseased and warped precisely, precisely by online conspiracy theories that are also echoed regularly on his show.

The plain fact is that the shooter responsible for the violent murder of ten innocent lives espoused the same false and racist conspiracy theories that Tucker Carlson has pushed to his audience 400 times, and which far too many MAGA Republicans, including former President Trump, are happy to amplify.

Tucker Carlson—and indeed, all voices of influence in this country—should come out and not just condemn racial violence, not just condemn replacement theory, but refuse to give these false and racist conspiracy theories a platform.

Let me say it again: anchors like Tucker Carlson, and in fact all MAGA Republicans, and all voices of influence across the political spectrum, should not just condemn racial violence, not just denounce white supremacist views like replacement theory, but further refuse to give these false and racist conspiracy theories a platform whatsoever. 

It is horrific to see that most on the hard right haven’t done that to date. Until we unite to stomp views like replacement theory out of existence, until we band together to call these vile conspiracy theories for that they are—white supremacist propaganda—we cannot find closure to the attacks like the ones we saw this weekend in Buffalo, New York.

And communities across the country—especially communities of color—will continue to live in fear that at any moment, they may be targeted by violence just because of who they are.