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August 14, 2012

White Supremacists React to Sikh Temple Shootings

Since the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin on August 5, reactions from American white supremacists have varied widely, from deploring the shootings to praising the shooter, Wade Michael Page.

Early responses occurred before white supremacists learned the shooter was a long-time white supremacist.  Many reactions expressed concern that the mass shooting would prompt calls for gun control. Others were unhappy with the target.  “I have to say that Sikhs are the least objectionable non-White immigrant group in North America by far!!” wrote one poster on the white supremacist discussion forum Stormfront.   Another Stormfronter agreed:  “There’s so many legitimate enemies, it’s just so stupid to pick Sikhs.”  A poster to the Vanguard News Network (VNN) asked, “Why get focused on Sikhs?  Just weird.  Very specific turd in a giant sewer…Our worst enemies are jews and white traitors.  If you aren’t fighting them, you just aren’t living.”

Others made crude jokes, as did this Stormfronter from Wisconsin:  “In a related story, several gas stations and convenience stores in the Milwaukee area have put out Help Wanted signs.”

Soon, however, white supremacists learned of Page’s extremist past, prompting a general attempt at distancing themselves.  Some claimed the shooting was not representative of white supremacists.  Others thought it was poor targeting.  “He…never learned the crucial lesson,” posted one Stormfronter.  “Don’t attack the symptoms, attack the cause.”  A VNN poster opined that “I don’t mind the massacres so much as the sheer idiocy of those doing the shooting, the random thoughtlessness of their targets.  If they are going to go out in a blaze of glory then they should at least attempt to select more politically significant targets instead of meaningless individuals.”  Many expressed fear of a backlash against the white supremacist movement.

Others, however, thought of Page as a martyr to the cause.  “See you in Valhalla, brother,” posted Zach Butler, a North Carolina white supremacist, to his Facebook profile.  One Orange County based white power music band, Armed and Ready, posted to its Facebook page:  “R.I.P. Brother Wade, out with a whimper or out with a bang, it’s your choice.”

These sorts of sentiments appeared especially popular among members and supporters of the Hammerskins, the large racist skinhead group of which Page was a member.   “For Wade, the fight goes on,” posted one Idaho Hammerskin to Facebook.  “R.I.P. brother, you’ll be missed!” wrote another.  “RIP, Wade, U were one hell of a white patriot,” posted Robert Kopko, a Florida Hammerskin.  Several days later, he announced that he was “gonna go out with some brothers an[d] have a couple drinks for a fallen patriot.”  Another Florida Hammerskin wrote that “I miss my good friend WADE!  HAIL WADE!!”

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May 1, 2012

Five Apparent Anarchists Arrested In Plot To Bomb Cleveland Bridge

Update – June 13, 2013: Joshua Stafford was convicted of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction on June 13. He faces up to life-in-prison. The other four suspects have all pleaded guilty and were sentenced to between six and ten years in prison. 

Five Ohio men were arrested Monday night after allegedly attempting to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge “to send a message to corporations and the United States government.”

The five men, Douglas Wright, Brandon Baxter, Anthony Hayne, Connor Stevens, and Joshua Stafford, had been considering acts of violence for months, according to federal agents. Two of the men placed what they believed to be explosive devices at the bridge and tried to remotely detonate it. The devices, however, were inert and provided by the FBI as part of a sting operation.

Wright, Baxter, and Hayne have been charged with conspiracy and attempted use of explosives; charges against Stevens and Stafford are pending.

All five men were apparently involved in Occupy Cleveland protests and have been characterized by law enforcement or self-identify as anarchists. Hayne, Stafford, and Baxter list the movement as their “employer” on their Facebook pages.

In recorded conversation with the FBI, Baxter discussed the impact of blowing up a bridge. “Taking out a bridge in the business district would cost the…corporate big wigs a lot of money,” he said. Wright believed that the Occupy Movement had been coopted by “corporate American and law enforcement” and that therefore they needed new recruits from outside the movement.

The media coordinator for Occupy Cleveland denied any knowledge of the planned attack, but acknowledged that some members of the movement are acquainted with the suspects.

Baxter’s anti-capitalist views were voiced in interview last month during a protest in Cleveland against home foreclosures. “…I feel the powers that be, whoever they might be – on all levels of government and those who hold corporate power – are not listening because not enough people are actually taking a stance…”

The five men allegedly considered other targets for attack, including the local Federal Reserve Bank and law enforcement Fusion Center, before settling on the bridge. Baxter inquired into targeting the Klan or other neo-Nazi groups in Ohio, but was dissuaded when he was told they were not in Cleveland. He claimed to have previously participated in a protest against the Klan in Oakland, California.

The planned attack was allegedly timed to coincide with May Day, a celebration of International Workers Day that has been seized upon by anarchist and anti-capitalist groups around the world. May Day events around the world have often featured property destruction and arrests.

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