May 16, 2022
Statement of Jeff and Tricia Raikes on the Hate Crime in Buffalo
By Jeff & Tricia Raikes

Ten people were murdered in Buffalo on Saturday, 9 of them for no other reason than because they were Black. We cannot let that essential fact be lost to us. In the coming days, there will be questions about the killer’s access to weapons and his mental state, but we cannot allow those questions to obscure the fact that racial hatred was at the core of this crime against humanity.

White supremacy poses a clear threat to the freedom and security of all Americans, especially Black Americans, all people of color, people of non-Christian faiths, and historically marginalized groups. Those killed in Buffalo were shopping at their neighborhood grocery store in a weekend ritual familiar to most Americans. Others have been killed in recent years as they worshipped at churches, mosques, and synagogues. Our government institutions are not immune. Public buildings have been breached, bombed, and vandalized, most prominently on January 6, 2021. These acts of violence share a common origin – a violent ideology that no longer lurks in the shadows of American life.

Domestic terrorism fueled by white supremacy is resurgent in America again. Violence fueled by white terrorism is on the rise, reaching new highs in 2020 and 2021. More than two-thirds of acts of violence in recent years have been linked to white supremacist ideology.

Those of us determined to build a just and inclusive America must come together. We must reckon with the painful truth that the root cause of this violence runs deep in our culture. We must confront the  white nationalism and white supremacy that is once again in the mainstream of our country. This hatred is nurtured and fed by the recesses of the Internet, social media and its algorithms, by cynical politicians pursuing power, and in media platforms that valorize fringe conspiracy theories. We have a duty to act. De-radicalization is an urgent endeavor if the ideals of the American project are to thrive. 

We take solace that the majority of Americans believe such hatred and violence have no place in our country. We can unify against these threats. What’s at stake are core American values of freedom and safety for all regardless of race, gender, or identity. Generations past overcame the predecessors of today’s violent white nationalists, and we can do so again. It will require all of us – especially white people like us – to be clear-eyed that this threat is real, that a faction of Americans will resort to violence to advance an outdated and evil ideology, and that there can be no safe havens for violent ideologies in our government, in places of worship, in media, and in our communities.

Our deepest condolences go out to the victims’ families, friends, and all who are harmed by this violence. We grieve alongside the City of Buffalo and our entire nation. We are resolved to defeat hatred in all its forms.