Survivors of Buffalo Shooting Call on Social Media Companies to Take Action

On Wednesday, YouTube, Reddit, and a body armor maker were among the companies that assisted the shooter who killed 10 Black people in a racist attack at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket.

Several businesses and people, including tech corporations, a nearby gun shop, and the shooter’s parents, are accused of enabling the massacre at the Tops grocery in May 2022 in the supplemental lawsuits brought by Everytown Law in state court in Buffalo.

Several survivors claim they are still scarred more than a year later, and the son of a 65-year-old victim filed the lawsuits on their behalf on Tuesday. The Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund’s legal division is called Everytown Law.

“I still live with those images every day. It’s a part of my life. For the rest of my life, I will have it in my mind,” Fragrance Harris Stanfield, who was working that day at Tops, said at a news conference. She is among the 16 employees and other survivors who are plaintiffs in one of the suits.

The other claim was filed on behalf of Wayne Jones, Celestine Chaney’s son, who died while grocery shopping with her older sister for the materials for the strawberry shortcake.

On May 14, 2022, Payton Gendron, then 18 years old, opened fire at Buffalo’s Tops Friendly Market, killing 10 Black individuals and injuring three others. He had chosen a target online and had driven 200 miles from his home in Conklin, New York.

The tweet below confirms the news:

Shooter Also Named in Lawsuits

The defendants are charged with contributing to the gunman’s inspiration, tools, or information in the lawsuits.

The body armor Gendron wore during the shooting was made by RMA Armament, hence the company’s name. Vintage Firearms of Endicott, New York, is singled out for providing the gunman with the attack’s weapon.

According to the lawsuit, Mean LLC produced an easily detachable gun lock to get around New York’s ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

Along with parent companies Alphabet Inc. and Google, YouTube is accused of aiding the shooter’s radicalization and assisting him in gathering material for the attack’s planning. Similarly, the complaints assert that Reddit promoted extreme content and provided a dedicated area for tactical equipment.

The complaints assert that Paul and Pamela Gendron “abdicated their duties” as parents of a youngster with a history of troubling behavior.

“We aim to change the corporate and individual calculus so that every company and every parent recognizes they have a role to play in preventing future gun violence,” said Eric Tirschwell, executive director of Everytown Law.

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Expresses Sympathies to Victims

Calls, emails, and text messages were made to the defendants or their lawyers to get a response.

A YouTube representative expressed their “deepest sympathies” to the victims and survivors.

“Through the years, YouTube has invested in technology, teams, and policies to identify and remove extremist content. We regularly work with law enforcement, other platforms, and civil society to share intelligence and best practices,” spokesperson José Castañeda said in an email.

Vintage Firearms’ owner texted that he had nothing to add.

After entering a guilty plea to crimes like murder and domestic terrorism motivated by hate, Gendron is currently serving a life term in jail without the possibility of release. The US Justice Department officials are still debating whether to seek the death penalty if Gendron is found guilty in a federal criminal hate crimes case.

Several lawsuits have been submitted in response to the incident. Victims’ kin filed a lawsuit last month alleging that tech and social media behemoths like Facebook, Amazon, and Google are to blame for radicalizing Gendron.

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