Tops Attack

Read the full report here: The Buffalo Terrorist Attack: Situating Lone Actor Violence into the Militant Accelerationism Landscape (PDF)

Executive Summary

On May 14, 2022, 18-year-old Payton Gendron conducted a racially motivated mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Supermarket in Buffalo, NY. This attack, which resulted in the death of ten Black Americans, stands as one among dozens that have been motivated by the militant accelerationism movement. The Accelerationism Research Consortium (ARC) defines militant accelerationism as “a set of tactics and strategies designed to put pressure on and exacerbate latent social divisions, often through violence, thus hastening social collapse.” Using Gendron’s self-published manifesto and Discord “diary” as sources, this report intends to contextualize Gendron’s position within the militant accelerationism landscape and analyze how it influenced this deadly attack. 

Key Findings:

  • Gendron was motivated to violence by the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, which posits that Jewish elites are orchestrating the mass immigration of non-whites into Western countries with the ultimate goal of eliminating the white race. 
  • The Great Replacement Theory has served as a mobilization to violence factor for several mass shootings (e.g., Robert Bowers’ attack in Pittsburgh, United States and Brenton Tarrant’s attack in Christchurch, New Zealand).
  • Brenton Tarrant’s Christchurch attack served as the main tactical inspiration for Gendron’s attack and Tarrant’s manifesto deeply informed Gendron’s manifesto style and ideological content.
  • Gendron is ideologically best understood as a consumer of militant accelerationist content and narratives that encourage lone actor violence. 
  • Gendron is an example of a lone actor that adhered to militant accelerationism tactics and who’s mobilization to violence is best understood as a product of digital militant accelerationism ecosystems.

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