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June 19, 2015 0

Murders in Charleston Again Demonstrate the Tragic Impact of Hate Violence

The hor­ri­ble mur­ders of nine parish­ioners dur­ing a June 17 evening prayer meet­ing at the his­toric Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Car­olina seem like a night­mare.  But they were real – hor­rific and sense­less.  And they were hate crimes.  The nature of the shoot­ings, the spe­cific loca­tion, the tar­geted vic­tims, state­ments allegedly made by the sus­pect, and a Face­book pro­file of the sus­pect wear­ing white suprema­cist sym­bols all indi­cate this tragedy was moti­vated by racial bias.

It is note­wor­thy that these race-based mur­ders hap­pened in one of only five states that has yet to enact a hate crimes law.  The time has come for that to change.

AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton

AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton

Obvi­ously, con­victed mur­der­ers already face the most severe penal­ties under the law in every state.    But hate crimes laws have a sig­nif­i­cance that extends beyond the tougher sen­tences they per­mit.  They are a strong soci­etal response to crimes specif­i­cally intended to intim­i­date the vic­tim and mem­bers of the victim’s com­mu­nity.  By mak­ing mem­bers of minor­ity com­mu­ni­ties fear­ful, angry, and sus­pi­cious of other groups – and of the power struc­ture that is sup­posed to pro­tect them – these mes­sage crimes can dam­age the fab­ric of our soci­ety and frag­ment communities.

The FBI and law enforce­ment offi­cials rec­og­nize the spe­cial impact of hate crimes.  The FBI has been col­lect­ing hate crime data from the 18,000 police agen­cies across the coun­try since 1990.   In 2013, the most recent FBI data avail­able, almost 6,000 hate crimes were reported by over 15,000 police depart­ments – almost one every 90 min­utes of every day.  Race-based hate crimes were most fre­quent, crimes com­mit­ted against gay men and les­bians sec­ond, and religion-based crimes were third most fre­quent, with anti-Jewish crimes a dis­turb­ing 61% of all reported religion-based crimes.

Fed­eral and state hate crime laws are an impor­tant demon­stra­tion that our soci­ety rec­og­nizes the unique impact of hate vio­lence.  45 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia now have enacted hate crime laws, many based on the ADL Model Law drafted in 1981.  The only five states with­out a penalty-enhancing hate crime law are Arkansas, Indi­ana, Geor­gia, Wyoming – and South Carolina.

Attor­ney Gen­eral Lynch has announced that the Depart­ment of Jus­tice has opened its own hate crime inves­ti­ga­tion of this ter­ri­ble crime – under fed­eral crim­i­nal civil rights laws, includ­ing the Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Pre­ven­tion Act.  That essen­tial fed­eral statute is an impor­tant bul­wark, but it is not a sub­sti­tute for state hate crimes laws.   South Car­olina is in mourn­ing now, as we all are.  One of the most con­struc­tive ways for the state to move for­ward would be to join 45 other states who already have hate crimes laws.

We need to be real­is­tic.  We can­not leg­is­late, reg­u­late, or tab­u­late an end to racism, anti-Semitism, or big­otry.  Com­ple­ment­ing fed­eral and state hate crime laws and pre­ven­tion ini­tia­tives, gov­ern­ments must pro­mote early learn­ing and con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion against bias and dis­crim­i­na­tion in schools and the com­mu­nity.   Strong, inclu­sive laws, and effec­tive responses to hate vio­lence by pub­lic offi­cials and law enforce­ment author­i­ties, how­ever, are essen­tial com­po­nents in deter­ring and pre­vent­ing these crimes.  

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June 19, 2015 2

White Supremacists React To Charleston Tragedy With Anger, Vitriol

dylannstormroof

Dylann Storm Roof

As news spread of the tragic shoot­ing ram­page at the Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Car­olina, America’s white suprema­cists reacted swiftly.  The killing spree left nine dead and a com­mu­nity in shock. The alleged shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, was arrested on June 18 and charged with nine counts of mur­der one day later.

Some white suprema­cists were, pre­dictably, openly delighted by the mas­sacre. On The Daily Stormer, a pop­u­lar neo-Nazi web site, there was unabashed praise for Roof. “He had the balls to do what most white suprema­cists only talk big about,” com­mented Spar­tan 117 (punc­tu­a­tion and word­ing in com­ments repro­duced here are as in the orig­i­nals). “He is prob­a­bly tired of all the race mix­ing pro­pa­ganda, arro­gant blacks, and tired of the negro get­ting pushed down his throat at every turn…. who cares what fate befalls the negros. We should have as much con­sid­er­a­tion for blacks as we do a fuck­ing tape­worm latched onto to our gut. Face it, negros are an enemy peo­ple to us, we shouldn’t care what hap­pens to these arro­gant n—–s.”

Oth­ers cheered Roof because they believe his actions would has­ten the destruc­tion of Amer­i­can cities, seen by some white suprema­cists as ground zero for the diver­sity “prob­lem.”  A poster iden­ti­fy­ing him­self as John Sov­er­eign wrote on the white suprema­cist dis­cus­sion forum Van­guard News Net­work (VNN) that “the best thing that will come out of this is more ape rage and more cities destroyed…Good! Keep it up.”

Many posters on Storm­front, the most pop­u­lar white suprema­cist Inter­net forum, fret­ted over the impact the shoot­ing would have on the white suprema­cist cause, empha­siz­ing the appar­ent lack of con­nec­tion between Roof and orga­nized racist groups. “I’ve heard of tar­get­ing ‘soft tar­gets,’” wrote user Fid­dler, “but this lat­est lone wolf nitwit picked a ‘mushy target.’Could he have pos­si­bly cho­sen more sym­pa­thetic victims?”

Gen­er­ally, com­ments on Storm­front were more muted than at some other white suprema­cist venues, with a few Storm­fron­ters even express­ing dis­gust over the vio­lence. This drew the ire of white suprema­cists on other forums, such as VNN.  “They are cry­ing over the split blood of these ‘Chris­t­ian’ N—–s over on Storm­front,” posted user EricPow­ers on  VNN. “Can’t believe so many peo­ple have sym­pa­thy on these N—–s just because their Chris­tians. Like that some how makes them sympathetic.”

The real “vic­tims” in this tragedy, accord­ing to some white suprema­cists, were the white suprema­cists themselves—and their 2nd Amend­ment rights. Right-wing extrem­ists fre­quently cast vio­lent acts in the news as con­spir­a­cies and “false flag” oper­a­tions intended to falsely cast blame on the extreme right, pos­si­bly as an excuse for some sort of crack­down.  Roof, to many extrem­ists, was just a pawn in a larger conspiracy–perhaps orches­trated by the Jews—to exac­er­bate racial ten­sions and deprive Amer­i­cans of their guns. The true risk after a shoot­ing like this, accord­ing to Daily Stormer poster Ben­nis Mar­dens, was that “the Jews” would respond by crack­ing down on gun own­er­ship. “The kid is nuts,” Mar­dens wrote. “He’s not a ‘hero.’ He didn’t help our cause. Now the Jews will push for gun con­fis­ca­tion and more hate crimes legislation….Furthermore, not all black peo­ple hate white peo­ple. They ARE more tribal than we are, for sure, but their anger toward us is CAUSED by the Jew media and Jew academics.”

Brian Avran, a self-described National Social­ist, raised the idea of “race war” in a June 18 Face­book post: “I smell a psyop/ gov­ern­ment op. just like Sandy hook, Aurora and Columbine. This church shoot­ing is what the media needs; a ran­dom act of white-on-black vio­lence to push their hate whitey agenda, since an epi­demic of black-on-white vio­lence is hap­pen­ing every day, which goes unre­ported. ‘They’ want a race war. it might also be used as incen­tive for more gun con­trol laws. “

“It didn’t take long for the media to begin the race bait­ing with the Dylann Roof shoot­ing,” wrote Storm­front mem­ber “stuck on stu­pid.”  “This will be used to flame the fires of the on going race war. Please arm your­self and be pre­pared to defend your life at any moment.”

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April 7, 2015 115

Right-wing Terror Attacks in U.S. Approach 1990s Levels

Recent ter­ror­ist attacks, plots and con­spir­a­cies by right-wing extrem­ists in the United States are approach­ing the level of attacks in the mid-1990s when the Okla­homa City bomb­ing occurred, based on a chronol­ogy of such attacks com­piled by the Anti-Defamation League.  The chronol­ogy was released as part of ADL’s com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 20th anniver­sary of the April 19, 1995 Okla­homa City bombing.right-wing_plots_attacks_1995-2014

The list of right-wing attacks and attempted attacks chron­i­cles 120 dif­fer­ent inci­dents between Jan­u­ary 1995 and Decem­ber 2014, illus­trat­ing a steady stream of domes­tic ter­ror inci­dents in the United States stem­ming from extreme-right move­ments over the past two decades.  Tar­gets included eth­nic and reli­gious minori­ties, gov­ern­ment offi­cials and build­ings, law enforce­ment offi­cers, abor­tion clin­ics and their staff, and others.

Exam­ined over time, the attacks illus­trate the two major surges of right-wing extrem­ism that the United States has expe­ri­enced in the past 20 years.  The first began in the mid-1990s and lasted until the end of the decade.  The sec­ond surge began in the late 2000s and has not yet died down.

Dur­ing both surges, the num­ber of right-wing ter­ror attacks and con­spir­a­cies out­num­bered those in the inter­ven­ing period.  From 1995 through 2000, 47 inci­dents occurred, while from 2009 through 2014, 42 inci­dents took place.  The eight-year inter­ven­ing period of 2001-08 pro­duced 31 attacks.  The surge of recent years has not pro­duced a two-year period with as many inci­dents as the years 1995–1996, which had a high of 18 attacks, but it has come close, with 16 attacks for the years 2011-12.

When ana­lyzed on the basis of per­pe­tra­tor ide­ol­ogy, the list shows that the var­i­ous white suprema­cist and anti-government extrem­ist move­ments have pro­duced the vast major­ity of the right-wing ter­ror­ist inci­dents over the past 20 years, with 50 each.  Anti-abortion extrem­ists come in third place with 13 incidents.right-wing_terrorism_by_movement_1995-2014

Inci­dents on the list include ter­ror­ist acts and plots by white suprema­cists, anti-government extrem­ists, anti-abortion extrem­ists, anti-immigration extrem­ists, anti-Muslim extrem­ists, and oth­ers.  The list does not include spon­ta­neous acts of vio­lence by right-wing extrem­ists, such as killings com­mit­ted dur­ing traf­fic stops, nor does it include lesser inci­dents of extrem­ist vio­lence or non-ideological vio­lence com­mit­ted by extremists.

Some inci­dents had per­pe­tra­tors who adhered to more than one ide­o­log­i­cal move­ment; in such cases, the move­ment that seemed most impor­tant to the per­pe­tra­tor was used for cat­e­go­riza­tion.  Cat­e­go­riza­tion was by per­pe­tra­tor ide­ol­ogy rather than type of tar­get, a fact impor­tant to note, as dif­fer­ent move­ments some­times chose the same type of tar­get (white suprema­cists and anti-abortion extrem­ists both tar­geted abor­tion clin­ics, for exam­ple), while some per­pe­tra­tors chose tar­gets that did not closely tie in with their main ide­ol­ogy (such as anti-abortion extrem­ist Eric Rudolph tar­get­ing the 1996 Atlanta Olympics).  The 2001 plot by the Jew­ish Defense League to attack Muslim-related tar­gets in Cal­i­for­nia is not listed, as ADL includes such inci­dents under Jew­ish nation­al­ist extrem­ism rather than right-wing extremism.

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