Survivors and a family member of a mass shooting victim at Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, have brought forward legal actions against social media platforms, gun companies, and the shooter’s parents. This past Tuesday (August 15), two lawsuits were officially lodged in the Erie County State Supreme Court. These lawsuits accuse multiple entities of playing a role in enabling and arming the shooter, Payton Gendron, who carried out the tragic attack in May 2022, resulting in the loss of 10 Black lives.
The legal complaints assert that Gendron’s parents “abdicated their duties” by not taking measures to restrict their then-18-year-old son’s access to a firearm, despite being aware of his mental health issues. The plaintiffs of these lawsuits also allege that a “gun magazine lock manufacturer, the business that sold Gendron the gun used in the shooting, and a company that sold Gendron body armor were all negligent and contributed to the shooting” all displayed negligence and thereby contributed to the unfolding of the shooting, as reported by CNN.
The legal actions have been initiated after Gendron’s admission of guilt on various counts, encompassing murder and acts of domestic terrorism. Due to these convictions, Gendron has been given a life imprisonment sentence without the possibility of parole. These legal proceedings are directly linked to the tragic incident of the Buffalo mass shooting.
The Role of Online Platforms in the Buffalo Shooting Tragedy
At the sentencing hearing, Gendron mentioned, “I did something terrible that day. I shot and killed people because they were Black. Looking back now, I can’t believe I actually did it. I thought about what I read online and acted out of hate. I know I can’t take it back, but I wish I could, and I don’t want anyone to be inspired by me and what I did.”
As per the legal proceedings, Gendron’s legal team has asserted that both YouTube and Reddit played a significant role in what they describe as his “transformation and addiction,” ultimately leading to the tragic incident at Tops market.
A representative from YouTube conveyed their heartfelt condolences to the victims and families affected by the tragic attack at the Tops grocery store in Buffalo the previous year. The spokesperson highlighted that over several years, YouTube has proactively allocated substantial resources towards advancing technology, assembling specialized teams, and formulating stringent policies to promptly identify and eradicate extremist content from their platform.
Moreover, the spokesperson emphasized that YouTube maintains an ongoing collaborative relationship with law enforcement agencies, as well as with other digital platforms and various civil society groups. This collaboration facilitates the sharing of crucial intelligence and the exchange of best practices, all geared towards enhancing the collective efforts to counter the spread of extremist content and prevent the potential influence it might have on individuals like Gendron.
Allegations Against YouTube, Reddit, and Others
In essence, YouTube is committed to upholding its responsibility in contributing to a safer online environment where harmful content is actively countered, and the risk of individuals being radicalized or influenced towards violence is mitigated. The platform’s dedication to such endeavours remains steadfast to prevent similar tragedies.
Earlier, two legal cases claimed several businesses and individuals played a role in facilitating a racially motivated shooting incident known as the Buffalo Mass Shooting in New York. This terrible event resulted in the tragic loss of 10 Black lives. The lawsuits were filed by a group represented by Everytown Law in the state court of Buffalo.
These lawsuits put forward the argument that companies like YouTube, Reddit, and a body armour manufacturer, as well as a local gun shop and the gunman’s parents, all contributed to creating an environment that made the attack possible. The legal action was initiated by a collective of survivors and the son of one of the victims. The son continued to suffer from emotional distress even more than a year after the horrifying incident.
It’s worth noting that Everytown Law is associated with Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund.