18 June 2015

Domestic Terrorism in Charleston, South Carolina

Those patches are the Apartheid era Rhodesian and South African Flags, a staple among white supremacists
Last night, a white supremacist opened fire at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, killing people including the pastor:
The Facebook profile picture chosen by Dylann Storm Roof in May is thick with symbolism. It shows Mr. Roof, a scowling young white man, wearing a black jacket adorned with two flags — one from apartheid-era South Africa, the other from white-ruled Rhodesia — that have been adopted as emblems by modern-day white supremacists.

Mr. Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in North Carolina after law enforcement officers identified him as the suspect in the mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday night. The shooting left nine dead, including the pastor, the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney.

Officials said the shooting was being investigated as a hate crime. Although it was not clear if Mr. Roof had actually joined any organized white supremacist groups, people who knew him said that in recent months, a young man they described as extremely shy had begun to harbor racist views and make increasingly violent statements about attacking black people.

Joseph Meek, 20, a childhood friend who reconnected with Mr. Roof this year, said Mr. Roof had changed, spewing racist ideas and talking about wanting “to hurt a whole bunch of people.”


Now Mr. Meek and his girlfriend, Lindsey Fry, both of whom are white, say they feel guilt about the shooting. “I feel we could have done something and prevented this whole thing,” Ms. Fry said.

Asked why Mr. Roof picked that particular church, Mr. Meek replied, “Because it was a black church.”

Another friend, Dalton Tyler, said that Mr. Roof had begun talking about wanting “to start a civil war.” But like Mr. Meek, he did not always take Mr. Roof seriously.

Mr. Tyler said on another occasion, the two were driving to a strip club by the zoo when Mr. Roof saw a black woman, used a racist word and said, “I’ll shoot your ass.”

“I was just like, ‘You’re stupid,’ ” Mr. Tyler said. “He was a racist; but I don’t judge people.”
Fox, of course, is claiming that it's a war on Christianity, but the gunman's own words put the lie to that:

They said that almost an hour after he arrived, the gunman suddenly stood and pulled a gun, and Ms. Washington’s cousin Tywanza Sanders, 26, known as the peacemaker of the family, tried to calmly talk the man out of violence.

“You don’t have to do this,” he told the gunman, Ms. Washington recounted.

The gunman replied, “Yes. You are raping our women and taking over the country.”

The gunman took aim at the oldest person present, Susie Jackson, 87, Mr. Sanders’s aunt, Ms. Washington said. Mr. Sanders told the man to point the gun at him instead, she said, but the man said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m going to shoot all of you.”


In a photo on his Facebook page, a glowering Mr. Roof wears symbols of two former white supremacist governments — the flags of apartheid-era South Africa, and of Rhodesia, the nation that became Zimbabwe. Other photos, posted by a Facebook friend of his and widely circulated online, show Mr. Roof leaning against a car with a license plate that reads, Confederate States of America.
BTW, not only the is characterization of this as accurate, the characterization of this as terrorism is literally in accordance with the oldest anti-terrorism laws in the United States:

Making the choice to call this a terrorist act is a way of recognizing the long history of anti-black terrorism in America. For most of American history, the word "terrorism" has referred to acts committed by white people against black people.

In fact, anti-black terrorism perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan was the reason for the first federal anti-terrorism law the US ever passed.

Making the choice to call this a terrorist act is a way of recognizing the long history of anti-black terrorism in America. For most of American history, the word "terrorism" has referred to acts committed by white people against black people.

In fact, anti-black terrorism perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan was the reason for the first federal anti-terrorism law the US ever passed. From a report in the Journal of Negro History based on testimony about the Klan:
The Reverend A. W. Cummings, a Northerner who had been president of the Spartanburg Female College, compiled a list of 227 persons whom he claimed were abused by masked men in that country between the October election of 1870 and the following July 15. He asserted that some two hundred of this number had been beaten, seven wounded by gun fire and four killed. Squire P. Quinn Camp, a white office-holder, claimed that between September 2 and July 15 in the township of Limestone no less than 118 had been abused by the Klan in some fashion, of which four were shot, sixty-seven whipped and six had their ears cropped...So extensive was the fear engendered that whole sections of the rural Negro population slept in the woods for several months during the winter.
The federal government, led by President Ulysses S. Grant, decided it needed to step in to protect order in the South — and keep the political system from being overwhelmed by terrorist intimidation. So it passed a series of laws, including the Ku Klux Klan Act, which made it a federal offense to conspire to threaten elected officials and voters to deprive them of equal protection.

The Grant administration enforced the Klan Act aggressively, using federal militias and charging Klan members in federal court. The law is generally given credit for destroying the Klan in its first iteration as a national terrorist group (it resurfaced during the 20th century).

In the 21st century, terrorism is typically associated with Muslim extremism; when white people commit mass shootings, their ideology isn't as often brought to the fore. But because of the history of terrorism in the South, for many, labeling the Charleston church shooting terrorism is a way to recognize that black lives matter.
This is terrorism, and it should be prosecuted as such, and it should be called as such.

He intentionally went to a black church to kill black people. He assassinated a state senator. He intended to terrorize the black community.

Prosecute this as terrorism.

As an aside, in a bit or journalistic irony, 1day before the shootings, the New York Times reported on the growing threat of right wing terrorism:
This month, the headlines were about a Muslim man in Boston who was accused of threatening police officers with a knife. Last month, two Muslims attacked an anti-Islamic conference in Garland, Tex. The month before, a Muslim man was charged with plotting to drive a truck bomb onto a military installation in Kansas. If you keep up with the news, you know that a small but steady stream of American Muslims, radicalized by overseas extremists, are engaging in violence here in the United States.

But headlines can mislead. The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the police.

In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.
The FBI recognized this over 6 years ago, but withdrew a report about the problem under pressure from right wing Republicans.

We need to treat right wing militias, the Klan, Operation Rescue, and their ilk as terrorist organizations, and to subject them to the full scrutiny of the law.


Post a Comment