Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Payton Gendron's Descent Into Racial Extremism (VIDEO)

I did not read the guy's manifesto. 

When Norway's Anders Breivik murdered 77 people back in 2011, I read his manifesto, which was easily available online. Lots of anti-jihad bloggers were cited at the document, although Breivik wasn't easily pinned down as a white supremacist. Frankly, he could have been the William Foster of Oslo, murdering scores of people while having a bad day in an urban multicultural dystopia. 

I looked for Gendron's statement, to no avail. Folks on the left think they've got this guy nailed down like he's James Earl Ray or something. Who know? He's a kid who knew he'd be throwing his life away if he went through with his plans. What a fucking waste.

At WSJ, "Buffalo Shooter’s 673-Page Diary Reveals Descent Into Racist Extremism":

A lone actor, socially isolated and mentally troubled, found inspiration online: ‘I just don’t have the time to wait any longer’."

CONKLIN, N.Y.—Days before carrying out one of the deadliest racially motivated attacks in recent U.S. history, Payton Gendron wrote that he’d finally made up his mind.

“I just don’t have the time to wait any longer,” he posted online. “I was supposed to do this 2 months ago. But now I finally feel actually ready.”

The entry was from a nearly 700-page online diary that Mr. Gendron, an 18-year-old white man, kept for the past several months. Writing under the online pseudonym “Jimboboiii,” he detailed his preparations for the massacre and his embrace of racist conspiracy theories that he said drove him to kill. A link to the diary was posted on a public web forum shortly before Mr. Gendron opened fire at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo last Saturday.

The attack left 10 people dead and three more wounded. All but two of his 13 victims were Black. They included an 86-year-old grandmother, a retired Buffalo police lieutenant and a church deacon.

Mr. Gendron, who is being held without bail after surrendering to police, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of first degree murder. Federal prosecutors said they are contemplating charging him with hate crimes. Mr. Gendron’s diary entries, which appear to date from November 2021 to the night before the shooting, along with an accompanying 180-page document, chronicle his descent into a shadowy, isolated world of swirling conspiracies, paranoia and violence.

Investigators are working to fill in missing pieces of Mr. Gendron’s background. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and police continue to pore over evidence from Conklin to Buffalo.

But Mr. Gendron’s extensive posts—a dark and paranoid monologue—present a portrait of a mass shooter that has become familiar in recent years: a lone actor, socially isolated and mentally troubled, who finds inspiration to commit mass violence in the recesses of the Internet.

Mr. Gendron seemed to live an unremarkable childhood. He played soccer as a youth, was a Boy Scout and made his high school’s honor roll. He planned on going to college to become an engineer.

In the months leading up to the massacre, Mr. Gendron spent hours glued to a computer in his family’s home in this quiet, predominantly white town in upstate New York. He posted dozens of hateful memes about Black people and Jews, discussed past racially motivated mass shootings and planned his own attack in painstaking detail. In March, he drove hundreds of miles to scout the Buffalo supermarket he later attacked.

He disdained mainstream political parties and the media, writing that he believed they were controlled by Jews. He described himself as a fascist.

Though there were harbingers of trouble—including a 2021 incident in which he was hospitalized after threatening violence at school—Mr. Gendron by his own account had seemed to keep his plotting and extreme views largely hidden.

His tone flippant in some entries and rageful in others, Mr. Gendron posted his plans to a private channel on the messaging platform Discord. A few people had access to view the content, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“We took action against the server as soon as we became aware of it and removed all related content and the server in accordance with our policies against violent extremism,” said a spokeswoman for Discord.

Mr. Gendron found his way to extreme online forums on the anonymous social platform 4chan when he felt bored during the pandemic, he wrote. He started on pages devoted to the outdoors, migrated to ones focused on guns and ultimately landed on a page that allows nearly unfettered discussion of white supremacy. 4chan didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.

In Mr. Gendron’s Discord entries, which started last November, he recounted his childhood in this town of 5,000, saying he didn’t have many friends, wasn’t close to his family and felt isolated.

“I would like to say I had quite a normal childhood ([less-than] 8) but that is not the case,” he wrote, signifying his life up to 18.

Mr. Gendron is the oldest of three boys, according to neighbors. His parents, Paul and Pamela, are civil engineers who work for the New York State Department of Transportation, an agency spokesman said.

The boys played basketball in their driveway, and had a trampoline in the backyard, neighbors said. Mrs. Gendron would walk around the neighborhood for exercise, and Mr. Gendron would wave while tending to his property. By the front door there is a round cement tile bearing a boy’s hand print, a heart, the year 2008 and the name Payton.

The parents didn’t answer phone calls seeking comment and weren’t at their home when a reporter visited Monday. One of Mr. Gendron’s lawyers, Daniel Dubois, declined to comment on Tuesday. In one diary entry, dated May 5 of this year, Mr. Gendron wrote that he competed on school swimming and soccer teams and, until Covid-19, volunteered as a firefighter. But he said over and over that he never fit in. In a separate entry, dated May 9, he wrote that serving as a youth leader in his Boy Scout troop was “the peak of my life,” but “everything went bad after.”

“It’s not that I actually dislike other people, it’s just that they make me feel so uncomfortable I’ve probably spent actual years of my life just being online,” he wrote in the May 5 entry. “And to be honest I regret it. I didn’t go to friend’s houses often or go to any parties or whatever. Every day after school I would just go home and play games and watch youtube, mostly by my self [sic].”

While neighbors and those who interacted with him said Mr. Gendron seemed quiet and responsible, his behavior grew erratic in recent years. On the first day of his senior year at Susquehanna Valley High School in 2020, he came to school wearing what appeared to be a full-body medical protective suit complete with gloves and gas mask. In his online journal, Mr. Gendron posted a photo of himself in class wearing the outfit. Later, he posted memes calling Covid a Jewish conspiracy.

He credited 4chan, where extremist views are expressed with few restrictions, with influencing him. In particular, he spent time on the platform’s “politically incorrect” page that is known among analysts as a hub for spreading far-right ideology, including white supremacy.

“I only really turned racist when 4chan started giving me facts that they were intellectually and emotionally inferior,” he wrote on May 5, referring to Black people.

Last spring, a teacher reported to school administrators that Mr. Gendron had written about wanting to carry out a shooting, a law-enforcement official said. The state police were called, and he was taken to a hospital for a mental-health evaluation before being released a day and a half later, according to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.

Mr. Gramaglia said state and federal law enforcement didn’t detect any further warning signs involving Mr. Gendron until Saturday’s shooting.

“I spent 20 hours in a hospital’s emergency room on 5/28/2021,” Mr. Gendron wrote, in a post dated Dec. 9. “This was because I answered murder/suicide to the question ‘what do you want to do when you retire?’ on an online assignment in my Economics class.”

Mr. Gendron wrote in his Discord logs that his time in the hospital was “one of my worst nights of my life” and called it a turning point.

“I got out of it because I stuck with the story that I was getting out of class and I just stupidly wrote that down,” he wrote. “That is the reason I believe I am still able to purchase guns. It was not a joke, I wrote that down because that’s what I was planning to do.”

In a public letter, Superintendent Roland Doig said the local school district was “shocked and unspeakably saddened by the tragic, racially motivated hate crime that took place in Buffalo, New York on Saturday.” Mr. Doig said the district is cooperating with law enforcement and wouldn’t comment further.

By the time he was hospitalized, Mr. Gendron had already discovered racist theories online, and his hospital stay pushed him further toward action, he wrote.

He exhaustively discussed in his diary the “Great Replacement Theory,” a white racist belief espoused by previous mass shooters and promoted on extremist online forums. It claims Jewish conspirators use Black people, immigrants and others to undermine whites. He also cited as a key motivation the 2019 attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 51 dead. That lone gunman, who promoted the replacement theory, had live-streamed his attack on Facebook.

The Gendrons didn’t show outward signs of trouble at home, erecting a tent and inviting neighbors and friends to a party last June when Payton Gendron graduated from school. Neighbors recalled Mr. Gendron saying he would follow in his parents’ footsteps to become a civil engineer.

A photo posted on his high school’s Flickr account shows Mr. Gendron and another individual driving in a black Toyota convertible festooned with balloons and a banner adorned with his name in a senior class parade. After graduating, he briefly attended SUNY Broome community college during the fall semester of 2021 and spring semester this year, according to the school.

Mr. Gendron also worked for about four months this winter at the Conklin Reliable Market along the town’s main road, but left around three months ago, according to store owner John Gage.

“He was a real quiet kid,” Mr. Gage said. “Gave me two weeks’ notice when he left. Never had any problems with him.”

During this period, Mr. Gendron ruminated on Discord over his evolving plans for the coming attack. He wrote about browsing extreme corners of 4chan and Reddit every day. By early February, he wrote that he was skipping his college physics class to work on documents he planned to publish about his beliefs...