Biden Finds An Execution He Likes – OpEd


When Joe Biden was running for president in 2020, he pledged that no one—no matter how heinous the crime—should ever be executed. Instead, the guilty should “serve life sentences without probation or parole.”

Merrick Garland was Attorney General for just a few months before he declared a moratorium on the death penalty. He and the president announced that they would seek to abolish capital punishment once and for all.

On January 12, 2024, Biden and Garland changed their mind. They finally found an execution they like. It is not hard to figure out why they pivoted. It has everything to do with race.

In the last three years that Biden has been president, there have been nearly 2,000 mass shootings. But never once did Garland authorize the death penalty. So the question is, why did Biden and Garland make an exception for Payton Gendron?

The reason they want Gendron dead is because they see in him something that transcends his persona—he is seen as fodder for virtue signaling. Quite simply, they are discriminating against him because he is a white man who killed blacks, and they want to show blacks that they won’t stand for it. 

Black people kill black people with stunning frequency, yet such stories are given short shrift by the media, and politicians fail to say a word about it. But when a white person, such as Gendron, kills black people, he’s a suitable candidate for execution. If black lives really mattered as much as white lives, then the race of the killer wouldn’t matter. But it does.

Gendron is a self-confessed white racist who killed 10 black persons at a Buffalo supermarket in 2022 when he was 18. New York State does not allow the death penalty but the Department of Justice can override this in hate crime cases. They did so in this case.

Biden wants Gendron executed because he wants the public to know that he won’t tolerate white supremacy. That’s what he told a black congregation in South Carolina on January 8. He called white supremacy a “poison” that is infecting America. Just last spring he told a black audience at Howard University that “the most dangerous terrorist threat” to America is white supremacy.

One likely reason why Biden is pursing the death penalty in this case is because he wants to shore up his base with black voters. It is slipping badly, especially among young blacks. His approval rating with blacks under the age of 50 is 32 percent.

When Garland addressed the death penalty for Gendron, he said, “The Justice Department fully recognizes the threat that white supremacist violence poses to the safety of the American people and American democracy.” This is a ruse.

Crime data show that in almost 90 percent of the cases where a black person has been murdered, the killer was black. Whites are responsible for 8 percent of blacks who are murdered; the figure is double (16 percent) for whites killed by blacks. In other words, the greatest domestic threat to black people today stems from black people, not white supremacists.

Further proof that Biden and Garland have a racial motive in treating Gendron differently can be seen in their treatment of the El Paso mass killer. In 2019, Patrick Wood Crusius killed 23 people in a Wal-Mart racist rampage. It has been described as the deadliest attack on Hispanics in American history.

Crusius received 90 consecutive life sentences. Why didn’t Garland pursue the death penalty? Don’t 23 dead Latinos count as much as 10 dead African Americans?

If Gendron had been the leader of some white supremacist group, but was otherwise regarded as fairly normal, he would fit the profile of someone who might be a candidate for unusually harsh treatment. But such is not the case.  

Like so many mass shooters, Gendron was a classic loner. He was not in charge of any group, white supremacist or otherwise; nor did he belong to a white racist organization. His father was an alcoholic and a long-time drug addict; his chronic substance abuse resulted in the demise of two marriages.

Gendron was such a freak that he wore a hazmet suit to class. After he threatened a shooting at his high school, he was sent for a mental health evaluation.

He was fascinated by violence, even to the point of bragging how he killed a feral cat. First he stabbed it, then he smashed its head on concrete. He finished it by cutting off the cat’s head with a hatchet.

This is a sick man. Normal people do not act this way.

Make no mistake, his horrific crimes demand that he be put away for life. But given what we know about his disturbed upbringing and his mental state, why are such factors being discounted? If he were just another screwed up young man, with no racist background, everyone knows that Biden and Garland would not be seeking the death penalty.

Looking at the world through a racist lens—which is what Biden and Garland are doing—inevitably results in disparate treatment. It’s obvious that they are exploiting the Gendron case for political purposes. 

William Donohue

William Donohue is the current president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the United States, and has held that position since 1993.

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