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August 23, 2012 3

Extremist-Related Police Killings Continue to Mount

The recent shoot­ings in St. John the Bap­tist Parish in Louisiana, in which two offi­cers were killed and two more injured, high­light the con­tin­u­ing dan­ger domes­tic extrem­ists pose to offi­cer safety in the United States. Research by the Anti-Defamation League has found that at least one of the sus­pects has ide­o­log­i­cal lean­ings that would put him within the over­ar­ch­ing anti-government “Patriot” movement.

The Louisiana shoot­ings were unfor­tu­nately only the lat­est in a series of lethal encoun­ters in the United States between law enforce­ment offi­cers and domes­tic extrem­ists.  Ear­lier this year, six police offi­cers were shot, one fatally, in Ogden, Utah, after police entered a res­i­dence to exe­cute a search war­rant. Infor­ma­tion from the search war­rant affi­davit strongly sug­gests that the sus­pect, David Stew­art, was an anti-government extrem­ist.  In 2010, two peo­ple asso­ci­ated with the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment killed two East Mem­phis police offi­cers and wounded two other offi­cers in a pair of shootouts.

All in all, at least 28 offi­cers have been killed since 2001 in encoun­ters with extrem­ists from one move­ment or another. The killings have ranged from inci­dents in which police offi­cers were delib­er­ately tar­geted by extrem­ists to sit­u­a­tions in which police offi­cers hap­pened to encounter extrem­ists engag­ing in ide­o­log­i­cal or non-ideological crim­i­nal activity.

Over­whelm­ingly, the per­pe­tra­tors or sus­pects in these lethal inci­dents have been right-wing extrem­ists, adher­ents of one or another of the pri­mary white suprema­cist move­ments or anti-government extrem­ist move­ments active in the United States today.  This is part of a long-term trend since the 1980s, in which right-wing extrem­ists grad­u­ally replaced left-wing extrem­ists as the main source of extremist-related offi­cer killings in the United States.  Though the fig­ures here are solely for fatal­i­ties, anec­do­tal evi­dence sug­gests that the same trends hold for non-lethal extremist-related attacks on police offi­cers as well.

The resur­gence of right-wing extrem­ism in the United States since 2009 has undoubt­edly con­tributed to the level of vio­lence:  between 2009 and 2012, eight of nine extremist-related offi­cer deaths have been linked to right-wing extremists.

Among right-wing extrem­ists, anti-government extrem­ists have been the most lethal in recent years, per­pe­trat­ing or sus­pected of hav­ing per­pe­trated half of the extremist-related offi­cer deaths this cen­tury.  How­ever, white suprema­cists have slain nearly as many offi­cers in the same time period and, in a prac­ti­cal sense, rep­re­sent vir­tu­ally the same level of threat to offi­cer safety.

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August 17, 2012 33

Possible Extremist Connection to Louisiana Police Shootings

Two Louisiana sheriff’s deputies were killed on Thurs­day in LaPlace in two sep­a­rate but related inci­dents.  One or more of the sus­pects in the killings may have ties to extremism.

Terry Lyn Smith

The first shoot­ing inci­dent occurred at a Valero cor­po­ra­tion facil­ity, when a gun­man opened fire on a St. John the Bap­tist Parish sheriff’s deputy, wound­ing him.  Deputies fol­lowed a vehi­cle to a trailer park.  How­ever, another per­son exited a nearby trailer with an assault rifle and opened fire on the offi­cers.  Two deputies were killed and another was wounded.

Seven peo­ple have been arrested in con­nec­tion with the mur­ders:  Terry Lyn Smith, 44; Brian Lyn Smith, 24; Der­rick Smith, 22; Chanel Skains, 37; Kyle David Joekel, 28; Teniecha Bright, 21; and Brit­tney Keith, 23.  All except Keith and Skains have been charged with prin­ci­pal to attempted first degree mur­der of a police offi­cer.  Keith and Skains face charges of being acces­sories after the fact to attempted first degree mur­der of a police officer.

Reports emerged in early media cov­er­age from law enforce­ment sources that one or more of the peo­ple arrested may be involved with an extrem­ist group or move­ment, includ­ing pos­si­bly the extreme anti-government sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment.   Author­i­ties in Nebraska have said that Joekel was on an FBI watch­list.  Joekel is wanted in Nebraska and Kansas on mar­i­juana charges and on alle­ga­tion of mak­ing ter­ror­is­tic threats regard­ing attack­ing law enforce­ment offi­cers.  In June 2012, while still a fugi­tive, Joekel posted his resume as a welder and pip­efit­ter to an on-line jobs site, includ­ing an address and phone num­ber.  Terry Lyn Smith is also a pipefitter.

The sus­pects had recently been under police sur­veil­lance in DeS­oto Parish after the sheriff’s office had received reports of peo­ple at a trailer park enter­ing and leav­ing vehi­cles with assault weapons.  How­ever, they left the trailer park in June.

As of this writ­ing, no infor­ma­tion has emerged to clearly con­firm the alle­ga­tions of sov­er­eign cit­i­zen con­nec­tions, but one of the sus­pects, Terry Lyn Smith, has indi­ca­tors of anti-government extrem­ist lean­ings on his var­i­ous social net­work­ing pro­files.  In par­tic­u­lar, on a Myspace pro­file Smith lists, as either “heroes” or peo­ple he’d “like to meet,” Alex Jones, the Texas-based conspiracy-oriented and anti-government radio talk show host; Randy Weaver, the white suprema­cist at the cen­ter of the 1992 Ruby Ridge, Idaho, stand­off; and David Koresh, the leader of the Branch David­i­ans dur­ing the 1993 Waco, Texas, stand­off.   Those two stand­offs were the main sparks for the resur­gence of right-wing extrem­ism in the mid-to-late 1990s, includ­ing the Okla­homa City bombing.

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