PEPPER PIKE, Ohio — When a seed of hate goes unchecked, it can tragically grow into an atrocity like the Buffalo grocery store shooting.
Authorities said the 18-year-old suspect Payton Gendron previously threatened a school shooting.
Investigators also said Gendron described himself as a fascist and white supremacist, so to learn that this accused killer specifically targeted Black people in this attack doesn't surprise Cleveland State professor Dr. Ronnie Dunn.
“I can’t necessarily say that I’m surprised because these acts of hate have almost become normalized in our country,” said Dunn.
Dunn added that hate and racism are learned behaviors, and investigators say Gendron found a lot of misinformation online that led to tragedy, including a conspiracy theory about race and ethnicity.
Dunn said education is key, but it’s tough when educators are barred from teaching race and culture in the classroom.
“If we can’t have a candid discussion and really deal with our nation’s history relative to race, then it’s quite understandable how a person can be radicalized,” said Dunn.
The Buffalo tragedy and the national conversation it has spurred about hate comes as two Northeast Ohio high schools are dealing with an ugly alleged incident at a sporting event.
Orange school officials say a Lake Catholic player had a swastika on his leg during a lacrosse game Monday against Orange High, according to members of the Orange team. Orange alumni and parents also reported a visitor used "racial slurs" towards their team, according to Orange officials. Lake Catholic said it is investigating the alleged "anti-Semetic" incidents.
James Pasch with the Anti-Defamation League said he’s meeting with Lake Catholic this week to address the incident.
“You cut it off there, educate and you learn from that experience,” said Gengron. “What happens when hate festers and it goes unchecked is that it leads to not only what we just saw in Buffalo, but what we've seen across this nation.”
RELATED: Orange lacrosse players say Lake Catholic player had swastika on leg, according to superintendent
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