Violent death in America stalks ordinary walks of daily life

May 16, 2022, 3:19 AM | Updated: 9:22 pm
The daughters of Ruth Whitfield, a victim of shooting at a supermarket, Angela Crawley, left, and R...

The daughters of Ruth Whitfield, a victim of shooting at a supermarket, Angela Crawley, left, and Robin Harris, hold hands during a news conference in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, May 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

WASHINGTON (AP) — In far-flung cities, deadly violence ripped apart the most typical of American spring weekends, driven by rage or madness, the bloodiest by suspected racist hate.

The crime scenes represented a cross-section of ordinariness — a grocery store in upstate New York, a California church, a Texas flea market, the streets near a basketball arena in Wisconsin.

The carnage Americans see on their screens is not from an invading force. It is from within. The United States is a cauldron of seething grievances and poisonous social media conspiracy theories that have even gained purchase with some in power.

There is, by now, a pattern after mass shootings — shock, thoughts, prayers, vows to do something, then collective slumped shoulders as attention moves on and it becomes clear nothing much will change.

Americans are still in the first phase as they absorb the aftermath of the past weekend of violence, which coincided with a COVID-19 death tally that reached 1 million in the U.S.

“I’m trying to bear witness but it’s just too much,” Buffalo, New York, resident Yvonne Woodard said of the rampage Saturday outside Tops Friendly Market. A young white man wearing body armor and livestreaming with a helmet camera opened fire Saturday, killing 10 Black people. “You can’t even go to the damn store in peace,” Woodard said.

You can’t go anywhere in peace with certainty today in this country of howling political and cultural animus, ubiquitous guns and murder rates surpassing those in most of the industrialized world.

Not to a Houston flea market, where thousands were browsing Sunday when a gunfight broke out, killing two people, injuring three and panicking bystanders.

Not to church, where on Sunday a man opened fire during a lunch reception in Laguna Woods, California, killing one person and wounding five before a pastor smashed the gunman’s head with a chair and parishioners tied him up.

Not to Milwaukee’s downtown, where authorities declared a partial curfew for the weekend after three shootings injured 21 people near an entertainment district where thousands had gathered for an NBA playoff game. Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Indianapolis are among cities that saw record numbers of killings last year, most involving guns.

In Laguna Woods, police said Monday, the gunman was a U.S. citizen who immigrated from China and was motivated by hate for the Taiwanese community, whose members were attending the church.

Americans have a president who, like him or not, is good at empathy and having to tap that quality more than anyone would want. Joe Biden goes to Buffalo on Tuesday to offer comfort to bereaved families and to address, yet again, “the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America.”

Biden is the second president in a row to warn of existential threats to the American fabric.

Donald Trump startled dignitaries on his 2016 inaugural stage with his talk of “American carnage,” a stark portrait drawn from urban poverty, rusted factories “scattered like tombstones,” crime, gangs and drugs.

Biden’s portrait is dark in different respects, centered on the systematic effort by Trump and now his allies to upend election laws and processes, based on false allegations of a stolen 2020 election. Add to that a toxic brew of conspiracy theories on race and immigration that authorities say fanned the Buffalo massacre.

Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old suspect, is believed to have written a document in the possession of police that laid out an attack intended to terrorize nonwhite, non-Christian people and get them to leave the country.

The document counts Black people and immigrants as “replacers,” drawing from the “great replacement” racist conspiracy theory spread by fringe groups that elites are plotting to diminish the influence of white people by increasing the minority population. The theme is a staple on some Fox News programming.

Sanitized versions of that claim have gained currency among some Republican lawmakers who have accused Democrats of encouraging illegal immigration from Latin America to gain more voters and pull off a “permanent election insurrection,” as GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York put it in a campaign ad last year.

That’s worrisome to Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, once a senior member of the Republican congressional leadership and now an outcast due to her pushback against the election falsehoods that powered the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and continue to be spread by many of her colleagues.

“The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism,” she tweeted Monday. “History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse.”

The conservative lawmaker implored her party’s leaders to “renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”

Yet the tenets of replacement theory resonate with many Americans.

In a poll last week, The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 1 in 3 Americans believes an effort is underway to replace U.S.-born Americans with immigrants for electoral gain. A similar share endorse the view that immigration is weakening the political, economic and cultural influence of those born in the U.S.

There was a note of hope. Two-thirds said a diverse population makes the U.S. stronger.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A flyer seeking information about the killings of four University of Idaho students who were found ...
Rebecca Boone, Associated Press

Victims’ families urge love, kindness as Idaho campus mourns

As hundreds of students mourned together inside the University of Idaho’s stadium Wednesday night, family members of four slain classmates urged them to raise their eyes from grief and focus on love and the future.
18 hours ago
Associated Press

EPA proposes restrictions to block proposed Alaska mine

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed restrictions that would block plans for a copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region that is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. A statement from the regional EPA office said discharges of dredged or fill material into the waters […]
18 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in the Ea...
Associated Press

Biden to Dems: Scrap caucuses, promote diversity in primary

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said Thursday that Democrats should give up “restrictive” caucuses and move to champion diversity in the order of their presidential primary calendar, dealing a major blow to Iowa’s decadeslong status as the first voting state. In a letter to the rule-making arm of the Democratic National Committee, Biden does […]
18 hours ago
Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann leaves the ACT Supreme Court in Canberra, on Oct. 27, 2...
Associated Press

Prosecutor drops Australian Parliament House rape charge

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A prosecutor said Friday he had dropped a rape charge against a former government adviser because of the life-threatening trauma a trial would cause the woman allegedly assaulted in a Parliament House office. Former government staffer Brittany Higgins alleges a more senior colleague, Bruce Lehrmann, 27, raped her in a minister’s […]
18 hours ago
This photo provided by the Oxford (Miss.) Police Department shows Timothy Herrington Jr. Herrington...
Associated Press

Man charged with murder of Ole Miss student released on bond

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — The man charged with first-degree murder in the case of a University of Mississippi student who has been missing since early July was released on a $250,000 bond Thursday. Sheldon Timothy Herrington Jr., 22, faces a murder charge for the suspected killing of 20-year-old Jimmie “Jay” Lee, whose body has yet […]
18 hours ago
FILE - In this image taken from Oct. 2, 2022, police body camera video and released by the San Anto...
Associated Press

Fired San Antonio cop is indicted for shooting teen in car

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A former San Antonio police officer who shot and wounded a 17-year-old as the teen put his car in reverse while eating a hamburger has been indicted by a grand jury on two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant and one count of attempted murder, prosecutors said Thursday. James […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Violent death in America stalks ordinary walks of daily life