The Great Replacement Theory and its Connection to the Buffalo Shooting


Claire Peterson

(Design by Claire Peterson | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Vanessa Hudson, Editor in Chief


On May 14, 2022, a shooter opened fire at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. Ten Black people were shot dead. One black person and two white people were wounded. The shooter’s manifesto and attack on Black people had ties to the “great replacement” theory.

This conspiracy theory holds that nonwhite people are being brought into the United States and Western countries to replace white people.

A statement from the shooter’s manifesto said, “The truth is my personal life and experiences are of no value. I am simply a White man seeking to protect and serve my community, my people, my culture, and my race.”

University of Utah professor of law Amos Guiora said, “Whites feel threatened.”

U student Daniel Gil de Lamadrid said that it’s a silly and baseless idea on the surface level “but this has been a conspiracy theory for a while.” He added, “during the 2016 and 2020 federal elections, Trump supporters were claiming that the Democrats were filling buses with illegal immigrants to go to places and vote.”

Lamadrid said that looking back on the elections, he can see that those claims were rooted in the great replacement theory. 

This is not the first time the great replacement theory has been brought to light by a mass shooting. The Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shootings that targeted Muslims also had ties to the conspiracy theory. Guiora said, “at some level, these guys are all related ideologically.”

Within the United States, Guiora pointed to one belief that this theory is centered around. “America is at risk of being taken,” he said. “I think that the guy in Buffalo not only believed that, but acted on it. I mean, there’s a reason why he went to that supermarket.” 

Lamadrid said he believed that the shooter wrote his plans out in the manifesto to show people what needs to be done. “He targeted black people because he believes that they do not deserve to live here because this is a white nation, and any black person living here is, whether they realize it or not, replacing,” he said.  

The conspiracy leaves people of color in fear, which is one of the goals of the theory. Lamadrid said the first thing he thinks of after racially motivated mass-shootings is how people of color are not safe anywhere, even in communities where it’s mostly comprised of Hispanics, Asians or Black people.

He added, “There are racist white people that will come in and it sends ripples throughout the whole entire country.” 

Guiora and Lamadrid both think the media response and rhetoric are a larger part of how this theory spreads. 

Guiora pointed to comments from readers of Fox News. “Every time a white guy does a shooting, the first thing that the talkbacks on Fox says are mental health issues,” he said. “When a Black guy does a shooting, that’s never an issue, right?”

He added that pointing to mental health is a way to excuse and rationalize.

“That rationalization never occurs when the perp[etrator] is not a white guy,” Guiora said.  

Defining the great replacement theory and discussing its ramifications are crucial to dismantling it and similar ideologies according to both Guiora and Lamadrid. 

Guiora believes that it is important to have these conversations, even while they may be unpleasant, there’s risk in not having them. 

Lamadrid thinks people need to be more proactive in identifying underlying racist theories within society.

“It took us this long to realize that these silly, stupid, racist claims are actually serious,” he said. “I would encourage people to educate themselves on the great replacement, even if it’s triggering to read because this is our reality.”


[email protected]