The House passed a bill Wednesday to beef up the government’s fight against the growing threat of racially motivated domestic terrorism and hate crimes.
However, Pennsylvania 1st District Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick said no thanks to the legislation that could help prevent future Buffalo shooting massacres, and voted no. This was the 198th mass shooting in the United States – just this year.
His Democratic Party challenger Ashley Ehasz says he is “playing political games” with people’s lives.
“Why would Fitzpatrick go through the trouble of co-sponsoring a bill, and then vote against it? Because he’s playing DC parlor tricks, and using a devastating problem as a prop,” noted Ehasz on Twitter. “Fitzpatrick can claim to have introduced legislation to stop domestic terrorism, or he can score points with the far-right and say he voted against it. He’s two-timing us. It’s as simple as that.”
Payton Gendron, 18, is in custody after livestreaming his mass shooting and as of now alleged murder of 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, which was motivated by racist white supremacist beliefs, including the so-called Great Replacement Theory.
According to The Poynter Institute, “The conspiracy theory warns that Democrats and other Western elites are using immigration and other means to ‘replace’ white people of European descent in the U.S. with non-white populations. Some subscribers believe it’s part of an elaborate Jewish plot.”
This White Supremacist propaganda has been spread by right-wing personalities such as Fox News host Tucker Carlson – in fact in more than 400 episodes of his show – and Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk. Bucks County’s Pennridge High School has a Turning Point USA student chapter.
“The Buffalo shooting, from what we know, appears to meet common legal definitions of both a ‘hate crime’ and ‘terrorism’: it is both a crime targeting a particular racial group and an act of violence with a political and ideological motive,” said Shirin Sinnar, Professor of Law and John A. Wilson Faculty Scholar at Stanford Law School.
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022, which Fitzpatrick voted against, would set up domestic terrorism offices at the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the FBI and order them to work together in tracking racially motivated violent extremism. It would also create “an interagency task force to analyze and combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of the uniformed services and federal law enforcement agencies.”
In a nutshell, it would help make the country, and especially communities of color, safer. It passed 222-203 along party lines, with only one Republican voting for the legislation. The number of hate crimes reported in Pennsylvania increased significantly between 2020 and 2021, Lancaster Online reports.
The Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer newspapers have yet to report on Fitzpatrick’s vote, a congressman they sheepishly label as “moderate” and “bipartisan.”