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Tag: racism

DOJ Files Hate Crime Charges Against Racist Buffalo Mass Shooter

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department on Wednesday filed hate crime charges against the 18-year-old white gunman who killed 10 Black people in a mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket in May. 

Payton Gendron faces 26 counts of hate crimes and firearms offenses, The New York Times reports

The charges were announced on the same day that Attorney General Merrick Garland visited Buffalo. 

“No one in this country should have to live in fear that they will go to work or shop at a grocery store and will be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin,” Garland said. 

The complaint alleges Gendron’s “motive for the mass shooting was to prevent Black people from replacing white people and eliminating the white race, and to inspire others to commit similar attacks.”

Mass Shooting in Buffalo Was ‘Racially Motivated Violent Extremism,’ Wray Says

FBI Director Christopher Wray, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

The mass shooting that killed 10 Black people in a Buffalo grocery store was “an act of racially motivated violent extremism,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said Monday. 

Wray made the remarks in a conference call with faith leaders and civil rights leaders. 

“I want to be clear, for my part, from everything we know, this was a targeted attack, a hate crime, and an act of racially motivated violent extremism,” Wray said. “While there remain a lot of unknowns, as there always do in an investigation at this stage, what is absolutely certain is that we at the FBI are committed to comprehensively and aggressively investigating Saturday’s attack.”

The bureau’s Buffalo Field Office responded immediately to the shooting, and FBI headquarters, the Laboratory in Quantico, and other field offices have been providing additional resources. The FBI’s Counterterrorism and Criminal Investigative Divisions are also providing assistance. 

In addition, the FBI created a web page for the public to upload videos of the shooting or suspect. 

The suspect, Payton Gendron, 18, wrote extensively online about his intentions to kill Black people. 

Homeland Security Warns That Power Grid Is ‘Attractive Target’ for Domestic Extremists

By Steve Neavling

The Department of Homeland Security warned that electrical infrastructure in the U.S. could become targets of domestic violent extremists, according to a recent intelligence briefing.  

The DHS briefing said that extremists have been plotting to disrupt the U.S. powder grid, The Daily Beast first reported.

“DVEs have developed credible, specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure since at least 2020, identifying the electric grid as a particularly attractive target given its interdependency with other infrastructure sectors,” the alert said.

The bulletin was sent to the electric sector Monday. 

Among the extremists are those who are racially motivated, according to the bulletin. 

The FBI has also focused more of its resources on domestic extremists. 

The plots against electrical grids are expected to continue and “may result in physical damage,” the bulletin says. 

White supremacists discussed attacks against the powder grid if President Trump lost in 2020.

Last year, racially motivated extremists, including two former Marines, used assault-style rifles “in an attempt to explode a power station,” federal prosecutors said. They were charged with conspiracy to damage the property of an energy facility in the U.S.

FBI Director Wray Says Hostage Standoff in Texas Was ‘An Act of Terrorism’

By Steve Neavling

FBI Director Christopher Wray called Saturday’s hostage standoff at a Texas synagogue an “act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community.”

“This was not some random occurrence,” Wray said in an address to the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday. “It was intentional; it was symbolic, and we’re not going to tolerate anti-Semitism in this country.”

He added, “We recognize that the Jewish community, in particular, has suffered violence and faces very real threats from really across the hate spectrum.”

Wray’s statements are in stark contrast to the bureau’s initial statements that the attacker, Malik Faisal Akram, was not motivated by antisemitism. On Saturday night, Matthew DeSarno, special agent charge of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office, said Akram was driven by an issue “not specifically related to the Jewish community.”

Wray’s sought to send a different message. 

“To be targeted at your place of worship, a space meant to be a sanctuary in every sense of the word, is, in my view, one of the most heinous acts of violence that can be committed,” Wray said. 

Wray pledged to continue combating anti-Semitism. 

“e’re going to keep digging to get more answers for Congregation Beth Israel, for the Colleyville community, and for the Jewish community as a whole,” Wray said. “I know it’s disheartening to see that these kinds of attacks continue to happen and that there are people out there who target members of the Jewish faith.

“But you can be confident that we in the FBI stand with you. And it is my hope that you will continue to see us as a trusted partner and as a valued resource, as we work together in our collective fight against violent extremism.”

To read Wray’s full address, click here.

Neo-Nazi Leader Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Threatening Journalists

Photo: Shutterstock

By Steve Neavling

A leader of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division was sentenced to seven years in prison for threatening journalists and activists who worked to expose his anti-Semitism. 

A federal jury convicted Kaleb Cole, 25, of Washington, of one count of interfering with a federally protected activity because of religion, three counts of mailing threatening communications, and one count of conspiring with other Atomwaffen members to commit three offenses against the U.S. – interference with federally-protected activities because of religion, mailing threatening communications, and cyberstalking.

“Threats motivated by religious intolerance are antithetical to American values, even more so when they aim to intimidate journalists and others who are working to expose bigotry in our society.” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement Tuesday. “The defendant led a multi-state plot by a neo-Nazi group to threaten and intimidate journalists and advocates who were doing important work to expose anti-Semitism around the country. The Justice Department will continue to investigate and prosecute these hateful acts.”

Cole and other members of Atomwaffen mailed threatening posters or glued the posters to the homes of the journalists and advocates, who were primarily Jewish or Black. The posters warned, “You have been visited by your local Nazis,” and contained threatening images, including a hooded figure throwing a Molotov cocktail at a house. 

“Kaleb Cole helped lead a violent, nationwide neo-Nazi group,’” U.S. Attorney Nick Brown for the Western District of Washington said. “He repeatedly promoted violence, stockpiled weapons, and organized ‘hate camps’. Today the community and those Mr. Cole and his co-conspirators targeted, stand-up to say hate has no place here. He tried to intimidate journalists and advocates with hate-filled and threatening posters, tried to amplify their fear. Instead they faced him in court and their courage has resulted in the federal prison sentence imposed today.”

Three co-conspirators have already been sentenced. 

FBI’s joint terrorism task forces in Seattle, Tampa, Houston, and Phoenix investigated, with assistance from the Seattle Police Department.

Members of Congress Demand Answers Following Blistering Report on Border Patrol in Michigan

Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

Two members of Congress are calling on the Homeland Security director to address alarming allegations in a Michigan ACLU report that accused Border Patrol of “blatant racial profiling.”

The report, which is based on thousands of pages of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, says 85% of noncitizens apprehended by agents were from Latin America, even though more than 70% of those arrested in Michigan for entering the U.S. without authorization from Canada were Canadian citizens or originally from Europe. It also revealed that more than 96% of the people apprehended by Border Patrol agents were recorded as being “Black,” “Dark Brown,” “Dark,” Light Brown,” “Medium Brown,” “Medium,” or yellow.”

In a letter to Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Jamie Raskin, D-Md., accused Border Patrol agents of focusing more on harassing immigrant communities than enforcing the law. 

“Taken together, these findings suggest that CBP’s operations in Michigan are focused less on its lawful enforcement priorities than on harassing longtime residents of Michigan in a way that systematically and disproportionately target those of Latin American origin,” Tlaib and Raskin wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

Tlaib and Raskin want a meeting with Mayorkas to address the report’s findings. 

“We are deeply troubled by what appear to be discriminatory abuses of authority and misuse of taxpayer funds,” they wrote. “DHS must provide a full explanation of exactly how it is addressing the problems laid bare by the ACLU.” 

Alleged Neo-Nazi Accused of Plotting a Mass Shooting at a Walmart in Texas

Coleman Thomas Blevins Jr. Photo: Kerr County Sheriff’s Office

By Steve Neavling

A man arrested on allegations of plotting a mass shooting at a Walmart in Texas had a stockpile of guns, ammunition and racist and extremist materials in his home. 

Coleman Thomas Blevins, 28, of Kerrville, Tex, has been charged with making a “terroristic threat to create public fear of serious bodily injury,” the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Sunday.

Authorities intercepted a message from Blevins that said he planned to shoot up a Walmart. 

During the investigation, the sheriff’s office made contact with Blevins and confirmed he was affiliated and networking with “extremist ideologies” and was capable of “following through with the threat.”

“Our investigators did outstanding work in this case, and possibly saved many lives,” Sheriff Larry Leitha said in the news release. “The plot interrupted in this case is unthinkable.”

Among the items found in Blevins’ home were flags depicting the swastika and other Nazi symbols and extremist books that advocated neo-Nazi ideas. 

“Firearms, ammunition, electronic evidence, concentrated THC, and radical ideology paraphernalia, including books, flags, and handwritten documents” were also seized, cops said.

FBI Reports Record Number of Hate Crime Murders

By Steve Neavling

A record 51 hate crime murders were reported in 2019, a more than two-fold increase over last year’s all-time high, according to FBI data released Monday. 

All forms of hate crimes also rose to 7,314, a 3% increase over last year, the FBI said in a news release. In all, there were 8,552 victims.

“When one individual is targeted by a hate crime, it hurts the whole community — that’s why people are feeling vulnerable and afraid,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement on the statistics’ release.

Included in the hate crime murders were the 22 people killed in an August 2019 shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, where the shooter said he was “targeting Mexicans.” 

Hate crimes are defined as those with “bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.” 

More than 57% of the hate crimes were motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry bias. Nearly 20% were motivated by religious bias, followed by 16.8% motivated by sexual-orientation bias, and 2.7% by gender identity bias. 

Of the known offenders, 52.5% were white and 23.9% were Black. Another 10% were Hispanic.