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In wake of Buffalo tragedy, experts say it's now time to stop the war brewing at home, the growing threat of white supremacists

Experts say it's time to stop growing threat of white supremacists
Experts say it's time to stop growing threat of white supremacists 02:06

NEW YORK -- For the last few years, the Department of Homeland Security has warned the country of the growing problem of white supremacists, calling it the gravest terror threat to the United States.

CBS2's Astrid Martinez spoke with experts Monday on how to spot and stop the war brewing at home.

Tragedies like the one in Buffalo can be a defining moment for a city and a nation.

"We know that from evidence that the shooter has left behind is that one of the things he was thinking about was this myth of the 'great replacement.' That's the idea that we have entered a time in America, even globally, that now white power and white leadership is going to be replaced by Black and brown power and leadership," said Dr. L'Heureux Lewis-McCoy, an associate professor of sociology and Black studies at NYU.

READ MOREBuffalo shooting suspect had plans to continue rampage, police say

Lewis-McCoy teaches about the growing threat of white supremacist movements in the United States.

"So people like the shooter in Buffalo are interested in doing these acts, not as a one off, but as an attempt at escalation to hopefully get other people involved who will hasten something like a race war or race riot. The idea being that if white people take back what is theirs using violence in any means, whether it's a book ban, whether it is assault weapons, they'll once again be placed in their rightful position," Lewis-McCoy said.

This year, DHS listed domestic terrorism, specifically white supremacy, as the greatest terror threat to the country. The agency attributes the resurgence to multiple factors.

"We are not only seeing this type of ideology in the dark web rabbit holes, we are also seeing elected officials and mainstream media that amplify this type of hateful beliefs. And we have to understand the attack on Saturday as a consequence of what happens when you don't stand up to this type of hate across all of society," said Jackie Bray, commissioner of the New York State Division of DHS and Emergency Services.

READ MOREBuffalo shooting suspect pleads not guilty after 10 killed, 3 wounded; Officials condemn "absolute racist hate crime"

DHS says it is responding to the growing threat by training across multiple platforms on identifying radicalization and interrupting it.

So what radicalizes a person?

According to DHS, violent extremists are inspired by a range of grievances and ideologies. The key contributing factor is a proliferation of false or misleading narratives which can sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government.

READ MOREBuffalo mass shooting victims include beloved guard, church deacon and mother of former fire commissioner: "This is just surreal"

Dr. Lewis-McCoy says identifying the cause is just the first step.

"It's not going to be a simple solution where we nip it in the bud at home or we do something on campus. It this has got to be a comprehensive response," Lewis-McCoy said.


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