‘Copycat’ mass shootings becoming deadlier, experts warn after New York attack -Breaking
Kanishka Singh and Tim Reid
(Reuters). An 18-year-old man of color is accused of killing 10 Black residents in Buffalo, New York. He appears to be one in a series of copycat gunmen, according to experts.
Payton Gendron surrendered on Saturday to police after the attack. He had apparently published a racist manifesto online and broadcast it live on Twitch (a social media platform owned by Amazon.com). Officials characterized the act as “racially motivated violent extremeism.”
Experts believe that the tendency for mostly white young men to be inspired by racist gun violence is increasing. They cite recent shootings such as the attack on a Black synagogue in Charleston in 2015, and the attack in Pittsburgh in 2018. There was also a shooting in 2018 at the Pittsburgh Synagogue. And, in 2019, a Walmart in El Paso (NYSE:).
Adam Lankford (a University of Alabama professor of criminology) has been studying trends in mass shootings throughout history. A 2020 study that examined victim data found that more people were killed in mass shootings than ever before, with eight of these being the deadliest. This is in contrast to 40 years ago.
This is clearly not random. This is not a random thing that they have created. Lankford explained that the students are learning from one another.
He said, “They want be like the former attacker who is a role-model.”
Lankford found that 25 percent of all mass-public shootings occurred between 1966 and 2009. But, from 2010 through 2019, it had increased to half of the mass-public shootings in which “direct evidence” was that the perpetrators were influenced either by other attackers or others.
Lankford explained that copycat mass murders are on the rise due to one trend. The gunmen get their inspiration from personal details of mass shooters in the past. They are not inspired by reliving the events. He said that it is their intimate lives that inspires them.
Lankford suggested that the media should not publish details of shooters’ personal lives in order to counter the increase in hate crimes.
The Violence Project tracks the number of mass shootings in America and has found that hate-motivated mass killings and people seeking fame have increased rapidly since 2015.
Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) hate- and extremist group tracking said that the Buffalo gunman, who was a member of a niche, dangerous online community, had told Reuters Sunday that he “had a substantial internet history”
“From what he wrote online, by his own account he was radicalized through participation in these forums,” Susan Corke, director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said in an emailed statement.
SPLC stated that although it hadn’t seen evidence of gunman affiliation with a particular far-right or racist group yet, red flags were raised.
“He discussed building up a weapons cache and asked detailed questions about body armor on a Discord channel dedicated to gun culture. Also, he posted about the alleged killing of a cat and its dismemberment. Corke said that he may have shared detailed plans for an attack two weeks before and continued to post about it.
The SPLC said it had obtained a transcript of the suspect’s Discord chat log, adding they have “high confidence” when asked about its authenticity. Reuters was unable to independently verify the authenticity of these postings.
Twitch and other streaming services like social media have been struggling with extremist and violent content control for many years.
The live-nature of the broadcasts make it particularly difficult to moderate as streaming platforms do not have time-delays like television broadcasts. Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 attempted to tackle the issue of livestream violence. It first allowed 17 minutes for a livestream from a Christchurch massacre, New Zealand. After that, it was taken down. The company now operates a temporary ban on users who break any rules.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on Sunday the stream should have been taken down faster and that she would take the matter up with social media platforms.
Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also urged social media companies to address and track down extremism on their platforms.