President Biden only mentioned in passing the deadly church shooting in California during an Asian heritage celebration that focused primarily on the racist shooting targeting a Black neighborhood in Buffalo.
While multiple fatal hate crimes rocked the country over the weekend, Saturday’s deadly shooting in Buffalo, which killed 10 people and wounded three others in a Black neighborhood, has been the administration’s focus this week.
“We know that, [despite] generations of progress, racism and hate crimes persist,” he told the crowd gathered in the Rose Garden to mark Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
“Today we know that maybe you are one of them who don’t feel safe walking in American streets. A shooting near Atlanta a year ago is still fresh … in the hearts of so many. Just as we’ve seen hate crime shootings in Orange County, California, and Dallas, Texas, just last week,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden’s remarks came on the heels of his visit to Buffalo earlier the same day where the he called the attack an act of terror and railed against media figures and politicians whom he said spread White supremacist ideology for “power and profit.”
“Jill and I just got back from Buffalo, New York where another lone gunman with a hate-filled soul shot and killed Black people at a grocery store on a Saturday afternoon,” he recalled for the crowd in the Rose Garden.
“I probably shouldn’t be saying this now but I have to say it. We have to not only talk about hate and about how we’re going to end hate, but who is responsible for generating it,” he said.
Mr. Biden also further condemned the “replacement theory,” which falsely holds that non-White people are infiltrating the U.S. to wipe out White people and diminish their political influence.
The president offered no further remarks on Sunday’s shooting at an Orange County Presbyterian church.
According to law-enforcement officials, David Chou, a naturalized U.S. citizen, opened fire on congregants from the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods.
Officials say Mr. Chou, who was born in China, was motivated by anti-Taiwan animus. Authorities are investigating the shooting, which occurred just one day after the Buffalo massacre, as a politically motivated hate crime.
Before opening fire about 50 parishioners ranging in ages 66 to 92, Mr. Chou locked the church doors with chains and attempted to super glue the locks, according to prosecutors.
One person, Dr. John Cheng, 52, was killed in the attack. Witnesses have told authorities he charged Mr. Chou and attempted to disarm him.
Police confiscated two handguns from the scene and later found four Molotov cocktail-like incendiary devices inside the church.”
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said at a press conference Monday that based on information gathered so far, the Sunday attack was “a politically motivated hate incident, a grievance that this individual had between himself and the Taiwanese community at large.”
China claims Taiwan as a part of its national territory and has not ruled out using force to bring the island under its rule.
FBI Los Angeles assistant director in charge Kristi Johnson said the bureau has opened a federal hate crimes investigation, citing “evidence that the individual was motivated by some type of hate,” and that any federal charges would come in addition to local charges.
Mr. Biden has made the shooting in Buffalo a key focus, prioritizing his trip to the city to meet with grieving families before he travels to Japan and Korea later this week.
The White House has declined to specifically call out Republicans or any specific individuals for spreading the theory or other White supremacist propaganda.
“This is not about politics,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday. “This is about people’s lives.
“It’s about making sure that we’re doing everything we can [to] uproot this evil that we’re seeing. That’s what the president is going to continue to do,” she said.
In his remarks in Buffalo, Mr. Biden cut closer to the bone.
“White supremacy is a poison … running through our body politic,” he said. “It’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes.
“We have to refuse to live in a country where fear and lies are packaged for power and for profit,” he said.
Democrats and some Republicans in Congress have been less veiled in their remarks blaming members of the GOP and conservative media outlets for spreading the ideology that they say led to the shooting.
“House GOP leadership has enabled White nationalism, White supremacy and antisemitism,” tweeted Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican who was ousted from her leadership position after feuds over former President Donald Trump.
“History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Rep. Brian Higgins, all Democrats from New York, traveled with the president to Buffalo.
In response to the shooting, Mr. Biden said the U.S. should take steps to “keep weapons off our streets” and “prevent people from being radicalized to violence” online.
“The American experiment and democracy is in danger like it hasn’t been in my lifetime,” he said. “Hate and fear are being given too much oxygen by those who pretend to love America.”