Local faith leader questions responsibility after mass shootings

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 10:04 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In the wake of the mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York grocery store in which 10 people were killed, the conversation is shifting away from gun control and toward holding social media outlets and media personalities who promote racist ideologies accountable.

Buffalo Police say the 18-year-old gunman targeted Black people in the attack, claiming he was radicalized on the website 4Chan. He cited the “great replacement theory” which suggests Jewish elites are bringing people of color into the U.S. to replace whites.

“I’m deathly concerned about this mood in America,” Rev. Bill Adkins, Senior Pastor at Greater Imani Church, The Cathedral of Faith told Action New 5, “the whole idea of exterminating people as was done in World War II, these kinds of things are horror stories to me.”

Pastor Adkins grew up during the tumultuous Civil Rights era. What he’s seeing in modern times, a white gunman taking aim at Black people while espousing the “great replacement theory,” something Fox News host Tucker Carlson frequently discusses, terrifies Adkins even more.

“I think people that send these signals out,” said Rev. Adkins, “I think people that weaponized social media, I think they’re culpable in many ways legally for some of these things that happen.”

In fact, Pastor Adkins tweeted after the shooting: “Tucker Carlson is solely responsible for what happened in Buffalo. He constantly espouses ‘white replacement theory.’ This idiot white teenager bought into Tucker’s white nationalist/white supremacy manifesto. He should be arrested and charged in the Buffalo shooting.”

U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson, the longest serving Black official in Mississippi and chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, talked about Asian hate crimes with the Southern Poverty Law Center two days before the Buffalo shooting.

“There are some crimes more egregious than others,” the Congressman said, “and what we have to do with that is understand what we have to put in place to mitigate those crimes from continuing to occur.”

And in a tweet posted after the deadly attack, Rep. Thompson talked about extremist rhetoric on social media.

“The committee has questions,” he wrote, “about what more can be done to prevent such platforms from becoming windows into horrific violence and recruitment centers for the next domestic terrorism attack.” Terrorism expert Phil Mudd, who once called Memphis home, told CNN that law enforcement can’t stop the spewing of racism and hatred on social media without new legislation. “You can say we’re going to lower the level at which you respond to a red flag,” Mudd explained, “but you have to cover the cops to do that. And they need politicians.” Pastor Adkins couldn’t agree more, saying it’s way past time for America to take action.

“The time we live in now is filled with such danger,” said Rev. Adkins, “people are just unsafe. We need law enforcement. We need to make sure that people are checked for what they say and are responsible for what they say. I think we need to look at new legislation.”

The very first social media site, Six Degrees Dot Com, was established in 1997. You could set up a profile and a list of connections. Facebook arrived in 2004 and Twitter became a part of our lives in 2006. 25 years later, social media is still not regulated by the government.

Quick mention: It’s been 8 months now since the mass shooting at the Kroger in Collierville. On Tuesday, May 17, Collierville Police will hold an active shooting drill that will be open to the public. The training starts at 9 a.m. at the Harrell Theater on West Powell Road.

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