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June 17, 2016

Alleged Triple Killer had Extreme Anti-Government Views

Erick ShuteOn June 14, Pennsylvania authorities caught and arrested a fugitive accused of having shot and killed three of his neighbors in West Virginia the previous day. Erick Shute, 29, who allegedly had a long-running series of disputes with the neighbors, reportedly attacked the three (and a fourth who escaped) over a conflict about firewood.

Shute was a minor public figure as the vocalist for the longstanding death metal band Pyrexia, with which he had reportedly been involved since childhood. He also worked as a fire and water damage restorer in New Jersey and was involved with a variety of odd business ventures, involving crowdsourcing, digital currencies, and multi-level marketing, among others.

After the slayings, a woman who described herself as “one of his ex girlfriends” posted on-line that “he has never been [one] for the police or government.” That seems to have been a serious understatement. West Virginia authorities claimed that Shute was an adherent of the extreme anti-government sovereign citizen movement and even suggested that he was building a compound on the West Virginia land reportedly purchased by his mother and used as a weekend home by Shute. Authorities have said they found stockpiles of food, weapons and ammo on the property, as well as “bunkers.”

Actually, Shute’s involvement with anti-government extremism appears to have been more extensive than just the sovereign citizen movement. Rather, to varying degrees, Shute identified with all three major wings of the anti-government “Patriot” movement: the sovereign citizen movement, the tax protest movement, and the militia movement. Shute was also supportive to some degree of anarchism, which is also anti-government, though from a more left-leaning perspective.

Shute’s oldest known extremist ties do relate to the sovereign citizen movement. While living with his mother in New Jersey during the period 2009-11, he subscribed to several sovereign citizen beliefs, especially those rejecting the legitimacy of motor vehicle laws. In 2011, he tried to get a local police department to sign a “peace treaty” with him that would somehow allow him not to have a license or registration. This visit led to his arrest for driving a vehicle with no license plates as well as charges of aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, and obstruction. Based on a courtroom video he uploaded to the Internet, Shute seems to have defended himself in court—as many sovereign citizens do—claiming that the judge in his case was not a judge but an “executive administrator” and that there had been no judicial courts in America for centuries. Shute was convicted and spent half a year in jail.

Shute also became involved to at least some degree with the tax protest movement, which claims that a conspiracy is hiding the “fact” that most Americans don’t have to pay income taxes. He engaged in argumentative phone calls with IRS representatives and sent hostile letters to the IRS as late as 2015 claiming that he had been given no “proof” he was required to file an income tax return or that the IRS had jurisdiction over him. Judging by some of his on-line remarks, he may not have been paying income taxes for more than five years.

In recent years, however, Shute seems to have identified most strongly with the ideas of the militia movement. The militia movement believes that the federal government is collaborating with a “New World Order” globalist conspiracy to strip Americans of their rights and enslave them. Subsidiary conspiracy theories emanating from the movement include a belief that the federal government is planning to round up citizens and place them in internment or concentration camps; a belief that the government is plotting to suspend the Constitution and declare martial law, perhaps on a pretext such as a terrorist attack or pandemic; and that the government will engage in mass gun confiscations—among others.

Militia movement adherents oppose this perceived government conspiracy. Many, though by no means all, join paramilitary militia groups. Though Shute “liked” a number of militia groups on his Facebook pages, he does not seem to have joined a formal group himself.

However, Shute’s on-line statements clearly indicate an adherence to the movement’s ideology. Responding to a conspiracy article about an employment ad for a U.N. “disarmament officer,” Shute claimed in 2014 that anyone who took such a job “deserves to be killed” by some sort of “painful and horrifying” manner such as being “eaten alive by dogs.” When the governor of West Virginia vetoed a permitless carry firearms bill in 2015, Shute posted that “someone needs to behead this mofo.”

In 2015, Shute expressed happiness at the thought that police officers might be among the first Americans “to get put in internment camps.” He also posted that he could not support the troops “if the troops are training to take you and me away into an internment camp.” Like many other anti-government extremists, Shute became outraged at the military exercises held in the southern U.S. under the name “Operation Jade Helm,” claiming that they were martial law training scenarios.

Shute, an avid fan of anti-government conspiracy websites such as InfoWars, believed in a wide array of standard “Patriot” movement conspiracy theories, from airplanes using “chemtrails” to poison the American people to vaccination programs being part of an agenda “to kill off millions of people.” Shute even claimed to have tried to attend the 2012 Bilderberg conference in Chantilly, Virginia, a magnetic lure for conspiracy theorists who believe that “Bilderbergers” are part of an international conspiracy.

By 2015, it is clear that Shute had developed extreme, and extremely paranoid, attitudes towards government and law enforcement. In February, Shute stated that it was time “to pull the government officials out of their beds at night and hang them from the trees in their front yards.” Urging people to “arm up,” Shute stated in March that everybody should have a gun in every room in their house and that they should even sleep with their guns, so that they would be ready to kill any police officer who came through the door. “This is the time for war,” he wrote, “and if you don’t get prepared to fight, that’s your problem.”

In January and February 2016, Erick Shute became a supporter of the anti-government extremists who engaged in an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and subsequent standoff, even listening to the live broadcasts by the final few occupiers in the last hours of the standoff, before they were arrested. After their arrest, Shute wrote that he “loved” the occupiers and that “even though we never met, I feel so close to these people now.”

Incidents such as these increased the already extreme hostility that Shute felt for law enforcement. Responding in February 2016 to a news report of one officer who had killed a dog, Shute urged that the officer be tortured and murdered, including being hung over a fire, whipped, teeth and nails pulled out, fingers cut out, among many other violent and gruesome methods. Indeed, so hostile was Shute to law enforcement that he may have well posed a risk to local law enforcement as well as to his neighbors.

Shute will be extradited back to West Virginia to face multiple homicide charges.

 

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June 19, 2015

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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April 9, 2015

North Charleston Shooting Provokes Virulently Racist Reactions

This article includes explicit and offensive material. It highlights part of ADL’s ongoing efforts to track and expose the ugly reactions and responses of white supremacists and extremists to the high-profile police shooting incidents across the United States in 2014-15.

north-charleston-posting

Comment from Stormfront

Michael Slager, a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer, has been charged with murder after a witness turned in cellphone video of the April 4 shooting death of Walter Scott. The video showed Slager, a white officer, shooting Scott, an African-American, multiple times in the back as Scott apparently fled from a traffic stop situation.

The graphic footage evoked strong public reactions at a time when police shootings of unarmed African-Americans have been brought into the national spotlight. Police Chief Eddie Driggers spoke for many viewers when he said, “I was sickened by what I saw.”

Not everybody had that reaction.

Among racists and white supremacists, the video provoked an entirely different set of conversations, dominated by virulently racist responses. “This cop should be applauded for taking a future rapist, thief, drug dealer, nigger off the street,” posted American_Fascist to the discussion site reddit. “I like this cop’s style,” wrote Pungspark on the white supremacist Daily Stormer site. “Too bad [he] didn’t make sure there were no witnesses.”

Some white supremacists agreed, even if reluctantly, that the officer might have committed murder. “It appears that the pig did unjustly kill the jig,” allowed Joe from OH on the white supremacist Vanguard News Network (VNN) forum.

Others defended the officer’s actions, claiming that Scott had taken Slager’s Taser. “If a perp gets your taser, you can shoot the nigger,” wrote an anonymous poster to the discussion site Zero Censorship. Some claimed anybody who ran away from police was guilty. “Again we have a black guy running from the police which in my opinion is the action of guilt,” stated Scorpion4444 on the white supremacist forum Stormfront. On the same site, Tenniel wrote, “It used to be that if a suspect ran from the cop, he was confirming his guilt…If white men still had power, that’s the way it would be.”

However, many posts openly applauded the shooting. “Personally, I don’t care how unjustified the ‘murder’ was,” wrote Hellen on VNN. “It’s a jig, it would have gone to rape and kill numerous people, that’s what they do. That officer prevented many future crimes.”

310tournad posted to Stormfront that “after bearing witness to the never ending stream…of blacks raping, robbing, murdering, rioting, and preying on…innocent whites, I couldn’t care less about this negro.” Poster dkr77 wrote on the same site, “I say good riddance. Just think of the money that cop saved the tax payer.” Honor Sword wrote, “One less negro running the streets.”

Some responses actually attacked the officer. “Typical leftist union thug behavior” was how one anonymous Zero Censorship poster referred to Slager’s actions. Joe from OH had a similar reaction, using an epithet white supremacists reserve for police officers: “Another gutless blue nigger. Murderous public union thug.” Angl0sax0nknight wrote on Stormfront that “I don’t care what took place before…the cowardly pig shoots him in the back. Remember more whites are killed by cops [than] blacks…This pig should fry!”

Many posters anticipated demonstrations and protests in response to the shootings, some attributing them to Jewish control of the media, as did beast9 on Stormfront: “And yet the hooked nose kikes always leave out the race of the blacks killing and raping people. The media jews want a race war.”

Common were responses that included the currently popular racist memes “chimpout” and “dindu nuffins.” “Chimpout” is a racist term to describe protests from the African-American community in response to recent police shootings. “Whether or not they have a cat[egory] 3 chimpout in North Charleston,” wrote poster MLK_gibsmedatdream to reddit, “the media is going to be replaying this for many months.”

“Dindu nuffins” is a term that originated in 2014 in response the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. It began as a hate-filled mockery of relatives of shooting victims who claimed that the victims had done no wrong (as in “he didn’t do anything”), then evolved into a racial epithet for African-Americans, sometimes shortened further to “dindus.” Stormfronter WhiteWarrior79 lambasted Chief Driggers, “who almost cried when talking about the poor dindu nuffin negro,” while fellow Stormfronter SPYDERx13 asked, “When do the Din-do’s start rioting, ummm, protesting?”

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