An Analysis of Payton S. Gendron’s Manifesto

How White Supremacy and Conspiracy Theories led to the Buffalo, New York Shooting

Payton S. Gendron, 18, accused of killing 10 people in a Buffalo, NY supermarket. Photo via Erie County District Attorneys Office

Payton S. Gendron, 18, accused of killing 10 people in a Buffalo, NY supermarket. Photo via Erie County District Attorney’s Office

Seth Diaz, Editor

***TRIGGER WARNING: RACISM, ANTI-SEMITISM, XENOPHOBIA, EXTREME ACTS OF VIOLENCE, WHITE-NATIONALISM

An 18 year old white man, Payton S. Gendron has been arrested and charged with 1st degree murder after opening fire on a supermarket in Buffalo, NY, killing ten people and wounding three. But as investigations began, the idea of the shooting being linked to poor mental health, as many other incidents like this are, were quickly shot down. What came of these investigations was a history of racist behavior online, the regurgitation of dangerous conspiracy theories, and a drive to cause immense physical harm. 

In a slew of posts made on the communication platform Discord, and the anonymous image-board site 4-Chan, Gendron had detailed his trips to the supermarket and his findings back in March of 2022, two months before he would return to carry out his act of terrorism. Originally, it appeared that Gendron had planned the attack in mid-march, but was delayed for undisclosed reasons. But with Gendron living in Conklin, NY, a city that is over 200 miles away from Buffalo, the picture begins to become clearer as to why he specifically chose this area. In one of Gendron’s posts, he states that the zip code the supermarket is located in has the highest black population when compared to other possible locations. 

In a 108 page manifesto, Gendron openly refers to himself as a white supremacist, fascist, racist, anti-semite, etc (see provided screenshots at the end of this article). But he also goes on to cite, with different linked articles, ‘scientific’ journals, infographics, statistics, and more about how European populations (white people) are intellectually superior to those stemming from African origin. He then goes on to attack Jewish people in a similar fashion, citing the older teachings of Rabbinic Judaism as the root for all that is wrong with Jews, even if they are ethnically Jewish, not religiously. The final groups brought up are East Asians, which he states should be “close friends” with whites, but remain physically separated. He attacks Arabs and Muslims and believes that they “seek to replace all cultures of the world.” While he states that Modern Turks are “racially white”, he also believes that due to Islam becoming the most prominent religion among turks, they should not be considered white.

Following his remarks, Gendron goes into extensive detail about how he will carry out the attack. He provides a list that details every action that he will make before, during, and after the shooting, along with a diagram of the store layout and how it pertains to his plan. In pages 61-156, he goes into extreme detail about the equipment he used to carry out his attack, providing diagrams, measurements, and spreadsheets that detail the costs and summaries of what each piece of equipment does, comparisons of equipment, etc. Gendron then writes messages that attack Conservatives, Leftists, and “non-whites on White Lands”. He openly calls for the killing of George Soros, Erdogan, and Sadiq Khan. In summary, a large portion of his final pages are more rallying and unification cries for other white supremacists. 

So, what does all this add up to? While Gendron distances himself from conservatives in his manifesto, there is the deafening presence of a conspiracy theory that has been peddled by well known conservatives in recent years: The Great Replacement. Popularized by French writer Renaud Camus in 2011, the theory states that white people are in danger of becoming minorities on their own land, or even extinct as a whole. While Camus’ theory is tied to the Muslim population in France, it was quickly addopted by white supremacists in the United States, which used it to villainize immigrants, African Americans, and Jewish people. This theory has been a part of, or the basis of acts of violence and intolerance throughout the 2010s, including the 2019 Christchurch Mosque Shootings, 2018 Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting, the White Nationalist march at UVA in 2017, and the 2019 El Paso Walmart Shooting.

In particular, the Christchurch shootings were cited by Gendron as a turning point. Brenton Tarrant, the gunman in the shootings, also live streamed and uploaded his own manifesto, which Gendron stated he agreed with. “Maybe we can combat the hedonistic, nihilistic, and individualist insanity that has taken control western thought,” Gendron said. While it may be one thing for terrorists to site insane conspiracy theories, it becomes something much more dangerous when you have enormous platforms and media outlets delivering these theories on a silver platter. 

Tucker Carlson of Fox news, GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz, Canadian Far-right activist Lauren Southern, and former GOP Congressman Steve King, to name a few, have been prominent figures who have either made allusions to, or have explicitly promoted the Great Replacement theory. Lauren Southern and Tucker Carlson both have extremely large viewer bases, with Fox News being the most viewed cable news channel in the United States. With all these large figures advocating for or injecting the Great Replacement into their discussions that are broadcasted to the public, what does that do to their viewers? If the January 6th riots can be fueled by racism and conspiracy theories, then what is stopping other acts of violence from happening in the future? What it comes down to is fear, and learning to identify whether one’s fear is being exploited. 

Historically, fear has been utilized by dictators, fascists, brands, politicians, and more in order to build an audience of dedicated followers. This is done because nothing is more powerful than the exploitation of human emotion. The Great Replacement’s power relies on the fear that is spread with the misinformation that accompanies it. From there, that misinformation can further be distorted by those who get their hands on it to push their own message. Believers of the conspiracy in the United States think that immigrants and African Americans are being used to boost the numbers in the polls for (primarily) Democrats. But that same argument can be applied to the Great Replacement, with it and other conspiracies being used to manipulate an audience to get them to vote or act a certain way. 

Here is what to take from this: this act of terrorism is not the first, and most likely will not be the last. There are measures that need to be taken in regards to firearm availability, legal system restructuring, funding for underdeveloped communities, corruption in politics, and so on. On an individual level, it is important to understand that humans are susceptible to manipulation by those who seek to cause harm. In recent years, most people have become pretty good at this. Communities rally together in the face of tragedy, and it becomes clear that those who seek to cause harm are really in the minority. The people will continue to stand strong for one another, regardless of their ethnic, religious, or cultural differences.

*provided below are six screenshots of Gendron’s Manifesto.