In the wake of the horrific shooting in Buffalo this past weekend, President Joe Biden and New York Governor Kathy Hochul issued statements in response to the tragedy. Both the President and the First Lady issued an immediate response on May 15, referring to the shooting as “senseless and horrific,” while announcing their plans to travel to Buffalo, New York on Tuesday, May 17. The President and First Lady also commented on the shooting during the annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service this weekend.
Biden connected the shooting to “the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America,” saying that we must all “work together” to address this. First Lady Jill Biden described the shooter as “a lone gunman, armed with weapons of war and [a] hate-filled soul.” Governor Katherine Hochul was more direct in discussing the role social media and livestreamed video played in this.
Speaking with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Hochul’s comments revealed that, at this time, it’s understood the shooter brought attention to himself from law enforcement previously “as a high school student with respect to something he wrote...and was under surveillance at the time with medical authorities/” Hochul stressed that she will investigate what was known about this individual prior to the shooting. She also aimed some very clear and direct comments toward social media CEOs, focusing on online speech with a call for these platforms to do what is in their power to aid in preventing situations like this, saying:
“The CEOs of those companies need to be held accountable and assure all of us that they’re taking every step humanly possible to [monitor] this information. How these depraved ideas are fermenting on social media. It’s spreading like a virus now. The white supremacy manifestos, the white supremac[ist] concept of ‘replacement theory’”
She further described the motivation of tragedies like this, as well as 2017’s deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, as growing out of activity on social media that she believes needs to be better “monitored and shut down.”
Hochul directly referred to the fact that the shooting was livestreamed and expressed concern over whether this could inspire others to do the same. The governor doubled down on the connection to social media after Stephanopoulos asked, “But how do you stop something like this?
”There’s not enough monitoring...keywords show up, they need to be identified, someone needs to watch this and shut it down the second it appears,” Hochul responded.
She added that “the right to free speech” will be protected but stressed that protection should not extend to hate speech Hochul also announced $2.8 million in federal and state funds will go to “provide additional services and support to individuals affected by the shooting.”