On Saturday, May 14, an 18-year-old white gunman pulled into the parking lot at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, pulled out an assault-style rifle and shot 13 people, killing 10, before being arrested by police.
The suspected shooter, Payton Gendron, primarily targeted Black people in an attack that authorities are calling “racially motivated violent extremism.”
A manifesto widely linked to Gendron showed a mishmash of beliefs. He did identify as a fascist and supported neo-Nazism. Gendron also espoused the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, the belief that white people are intentionally being replaced with non-white migrants in Europe, North America and elsewhere
Russian state media, which has drummed up the neo-Nazi threat in Ukraine as a pretext to justify its illegal invasion there, attempted to tie Gendron to a controversial battalion in Ukraine’s National Guard called the Azov Regiment.
“Buffalo Shooter's Manifest Has Nazi Symbol Previously Used by Azov Battalion,” a headline from Russia’s state-run broadcaster Sputnik reads.
The article correctly states that the Azov Regiment’s former emblem was a combination of two Nazi-linked symbols — called the Wolfsangel and the Black Sun (Sonnenrad).
However, to tie the Buffalo shooter to the Azov fighters based on the symbols is misleading and lacks context.
The Black Sun, which originated in Nazi Germany, has been used by white supremacists globally for decades. It is not specific to the Azov Regiment, particularly in its current incarnation as an apolitical unit of the Ukraine National Guard.
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