The announcement marks the first time that the Justice Department has sought the death penalty in a new case, in conflict with President’s commitment.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) released the following statement on the Department of Justice’s decision to seek the execution of Payton Gendron, who committed the heinous racially-motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket in 2022:

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“Make no mistake: the acts committed by this individual are morally reprehensible. Ten families continue to mourn their loved ones who were murdered on that horrific day in a hate-fueled act of domestic terrorism. In memory of those who lost their lives, we must advance true accountability and healing, and continue to fight against the surge of white supremacy in our country and its stain on our history. However, state-sanctioned killing is not justice.

“President Biden made a promise to the American people to stop this barbaric practice. The Justice Department should follow the President’s lead and reverse its position seeking the death penalty in this case. And Congress must pass our bill to end this deeply flawed and inhumane form of punishment once and for all.”

Last year, Durbin and Pressley reintroduced the Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act of 2023, bicameral legislation to prohibit the use of the death penalty at the federal level and require re-sentencing of those currently on death row.

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