The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
Editors’ Note: A photo caption in an earlier version of this story reported that patches on a jacket Dylann Roof wore in photos posted on his website were likely sold at patriot-flags.com, an online store managed by Kyle Rogers, the webmaster of the Council of Conservative Citizens. Rogers’ store does not and has never sold those patches.
Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof’s manifesto cited the hate group Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) as his gateway into the world of white nationalism. The CCC is the modern reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South.
For decades, this racist group has had the ear of a number of prominent politicians, both state and federal, many of whom were members of the group and/or attended events put on the by CCC — a group that has referred to African Americans as a “retrograde species of humanity.”
In 1998, a scandal erupted over prominent Southern politicians’ ties to the brazenly racist group. After it was revealed that former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.) gave the keynote speech at the CCC’s 1998 national convention and that then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) had spoken to the group five times, both claimed they knew nothing about the CCC. As evidence of widespread association between Southern GOP officeholders and the CCC mounted, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson took the unusual step in 1998 of asking party members to resign from the group because of its racist views. But six years later, many Southern lawmakers were still pandering to and meeting with the CCC — and still pleading ignorance. According to a 2004 Intelligence Report review of the Citizens Informer, no fewer than 38 federal, state and local elected officials had attended CCC events between 2000 and 2004, most of them giving speeches to local chapters of the hate group.
Authorities confirmed earlier today that a manifesto appearing on the website “The Last Rhodesian” was indeed penned by Dylann Storm Roof, the man arrested following the murder of nine African Americans at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday evening.
Roof’s manifesto indicates that he has been involved in the white nationalist scene for about three years. A deeper look into the 2000-plus word screed reveals that he was deeply immersed in white nationalist ideology and very knowledgeable of the hot button issues and debates in the white nationalist world today.
What follows is a textual analysis of the Dylann Roof manifesto and an attempt to trace the ideas expressed therein to beliefs widely-held or debated within the white nationalist movement.
Black on White Crime
“But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?”
The issue of black on white crime is one of the most common white nationalist tropes. A quick look on any of the leading white nationalist websites and message boards indicates how popular this claim is on the radical right. Today, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), the group Roof credited with introducing him to the white nationalist scene dedicates itself to educating whites on what it sees as an epidemic of black on white crime in the United States. The CCC website has been a touchstone for the radical right to get “educated” on this issue, with articles appearing on a daily basis reporting on “hate crimes” committed by African Americans on whites in the U.S. It appears this was the first stop for Roof on his dive down the white nationalist rabbit hole.
UPDATE: Charleston law enforcement authorities have confirmed that the website containing Dylann Storm Roof’s manifesto and photos was registered and run by Roof.
A manifesto, purportedly penned by Dylann Storm Roof, the man charged with murdering nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., has surfaced online. A website contains numerous photos of Roof as well as a 2,000 word manifesto. The website is called “The Last Rhodesian” – the Rhodesian flag was one of the patches Roof had on his jacket in his Facebook profile photo.
Roof’s manifesto reveals much of his motivations for committing his heinous act. In it, he specifically cites the website of the white nationalist hate group Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) as his gateway into the radical right. The CCC is the modern reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South. Today, the CCC dedicates itself to educating whites on what it sees as an epidemic of black on white crime in the United States. The CCC website has been a touchstone for the radical right to get “educated” on this issue – and it appears this was the first stop for Roof on his dive down the white nationalist rabbit hole.
Roof’s alleged manifesto reads, “The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?”
The CCC is very active in Roof’s home state of South Carolina. In fact, the CCC webmaster, white nationalist Kyle Rogers, is based in the state. Rogers is the mastermind behind the CCC’s push to bring attention to black on white crime – writing article after article on the CCC website exposing what he calls black on white hate crimes. This brand of racist opportunism, exemplified by Rogers’s coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting, is a staple of Rogers and the CCC’s media plan. On Feb. 6, 2012, in the midst of the site’s coverage of the shooting, the CCC’s website topped 170,000 unique visits in a single day. Such successes have emboldened Rogers and the CCC’s web team, resulting in similar coverage following the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the social unrest that followed. It seems the CCC media strategy was successful in recruiting Roof into the radical right.
When he isn’t writing about black on white crime, Rogers manages a flag store, Patriotic-Flags.com, which you can visit by clicking an ad on the CCC website. Rogers’ store sells the flag of the government of Rhodesia, the same flag sewn on the jacket worn by Roof in his Facebook profile. Before Roof’s alleged manifest was discovered, Rogers was quick to attack the Southern Poverty Law Center for our reporting on the Roof shooting. Rogers claimed “there is no evidence whatsoever” of Roof being radicalized online. If authorities determine that Roof’s manifesto is authentic, Rogers words may well come back to haunt him.
Update: The 21 year old suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, was arrested this morning in Shelby, North Carolina, about 250 miles from where nine people were killed in a Charleston church last night.
A massive manhunt continued early today in Charleston, S.C., for a young white man who walked into one of the oldest black churches in the country last night and opened fire, killing nine people in what authorities said was a hate crime.
The suspect was identified this morning by authorities as Dylann Storm Roof, 21. He was believed to be driving a dark colored 2000 Hyundai Elantra GS with a South Carolina license plate.
A photo of Roof on his Facebook page shows him wearing a dark jacket with two patches that are symbolic to white supremacists. The top patch is a South African apartheid era flag. The second patch appears to be the flag of the former Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, when the country was white ruled.
“This is a situation that is unacceptable in any society, especially in our society, our city,” Charleston’s police chief, Greg Mullen, said at a news conference today, adding that the suspect “is a very dangerous individual that should not be approached by anyone” except for the heavily armed law enforcement officers hunting him down.
“We do not want more people harmed,” Mullen said.
Eight people died at the scene, the chief said, and one victim was pronounced dead at local a hospital. Mullen said three men and six women were killed.
The city was filled with law enforcement officers and reporters from across the country even before last night’s terrorist attack. Hillary Rodham Clinton was in town for a presidential campaign event Wednesday. After the shooting, Republican hopeful Jeb Bush cancelled an event in Charleston scheduled for today.
Members of Emanuel AME Church located in downtown Charleston were having a prayer meeting when the gunman walked in around 8 P.M. Wednesday and took a seat. The police chief said the sandy haired man was in the church for about an hour before he stood up and started shooting shortly after 9 P.M.
The president of the Charleston NAACP, Dot Scott, told the paper that a woman who survived the shooting told her family that the gunman told the woman he was sparing her life so she could tell what happened. Chief Mullen would not confirm the account at the morning news conference.
The suspect was caught on a surveillance camera entering the church. Police released a photo of the suspect and the dark colored car he apparently arrived in. He is described as a clean shaven white man with a slender build, between 21 and 25 years of age, standing about 5’9. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt.
Using police dogs and helicopters, local, state and federal law enforcement officers, including agents from the FBI, searched through the night for the suspect. “We are not leaving any stone unturned,” the chief said today.
The 41-year-old pastor of the church, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who is also a South Carolina state senator, was among the dead. A senate colleague told CNN this morning that the fallen pastor was the “moral compass of the state senate.”
At the news conference today, the mayor of Charleston, Joe Riley, called the shooting “unspeakable and unfathomable.”
“We are going to put our arms around that church and church family,” Riley said.
The church shooting in Charleston is chillingly reminiscent of the massacre in Wisconsin. On a Sunday morning in August in 2012, Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old neo-Nazi and white power musician, walked into a Sikh Temple in suburban Milwaukee and opened fire with a 9 mm handgun. He killed six people before taking his own life as police moved in.
Chief Mullen said today “we are committed, we are determined” to capture the suspect. He pleaded for the public’s help in identifying the man and his whereabouts. A hotline has been established and a local, state and federal task force has been organized.
“No one in this community,” Mullen said, “will ever forget this night.”
Additional details are emerging about an unemployed man who was under investigation for hate crimes and refused to leave his foreclosed home when he fatally shot an Edmonton police officer Monday in that Canadian city.
While authorities stopped short of describing Norman Walter Raddatz as a sovereign citizen, he is being characterized by neighbors and friends as a loner, facing foreclosure and eviction from his home, after experiencing a divorce and financial collapse.
Raddatz had refused to move from his residence, despite a court-sanctioned foreclosure and eviction process, and he ignored police knocks at his door Monday evening. When they began a court-authorized forcible entry to arrest him, Raddatz began firing multiple rounds from a large caliber rifle, authorities said.
Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht said the two officers who were shot and backup officers who arrived didn’t return fire, while Raddatz fired more than 50 rounds from a large-bore rifle, the Edmonton Journal reported.
Neighbors told various media outlets that Raddatz refused to abide by local laws and bylaws, piling dog feces on a property line fence at one point. One neighbor described the shooter as a “deadbeat” and another called him a “terrible neighbor.”
Raddatz, a 42-year-old unemployed refrigeration mechanic, “had an extensive hate crimes file related to online bullying of a family” in Edmonton, the CBC reported.
Constable Daniel Woodall, 35, of the Edmonton Police Services’ hate crimes unit, died from multiple gunshots wounds as he attempted to enter the suspect’s residence, authorities said. A second officer, Sgt. Jason Harley, 38, was wounded, but is expected to recover. Both officers were wearing vests.
Many of the rounds were fired through doors and walls. A body, believed to be that of Raddatz, was found in the charred basement of the house which he apparently set on fire after shooting at the police officers.
Raddatz was known to police but didn’t have an extensive criminal record, the police chief told reporters.
The online hatred and bullying by Raddatz of the publicly unidentified Edmonton family “had become extreme and the family members were increasingly worried about their personal safety,” the police chief told the Edmonton newspaper.
For weeks in the spring of 2011, a caravan of white suburban teenagers and young adults would pile into a green Ford-250 pickup truck and another vehicle and go hunting for African Americans to harass and assault in the streets of Jackson, Miss., the state capital.
They attacked people with slingshots and beer bottles, fists and feet, sometimes shouting “White Power” as they sped away. The reign of terror culminated in the death of a 47-year-old black auto plant worker, James Anderson, who was badly beaten and then deliberately run over with the truck by his pursuers in the early morning hours of June 26, 2011.
Since then, 9 members of the group have been sent to prison after pleading guilty in the string of attacks and are serving terms that range from life for the driver of the pickup, Deryl Dedmon, to five years for one of the young women riding along.
On Friday, the 10th and last member of the group, Robert Henry Rice, 24, was sentenced in federal court in Jackson to 10 years behind bars for his role in the attacks that stretched from April 1 to the death of Anderson on June 26.
“These are thugs, that’s the only way to describe them,” U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate said at the sentencing on Friday, according to USA Today. “This defendant came to Jackson multiple times to enjoy this aspect of ‘fun’ that they were going to perpetuate on innocent African Americans.”
Rice, of Brandon, Miss., was not present during the killing of Anderson but he had participated in at least three earlier assaults on African Americans, USA Today reports.
Rice’s day of judgment came five months after he pleaded guilty in January to one count of violating the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr., act, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of $250,000.
“The hate crimes to which these defendants have pleaded guilty were as shocking as they were reprehensible – targeting innocent people for racially motivated acts of violence inflicted grievous harm and even claimed a life,” then Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement at the time. “This landmark case should send a clear message: that anyone who commits an act of bias-motivated violence, or who violates the civil rights to which all Americans are entitled, will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
For weeks before Anderson was killed, the teenagers cruised the nighttime streets of Jackson, drinking beer and searching for African Americans to attack. They threw beer bottles and shot metal ball bearings out of moving vehicles at African American pedestrians. Near a golf course, they beat a man so badly that he begged for his life.
Then in the pre-dawn darkness of June 26, 2011 they came across Anderson in the parking lot of a motel. He appeared to be intoxicated, the perfect target. A couple of the young men took turns punching Anderson in the face. Then Dedmon deliberately ran him over with the pickup truck.
As the teens left the lot, one of them shouted “White Power.”
Authorities in Colorado have arrested a 32-year-old man on hate crime-related charges for sending white powder envelopes deemed as threats to two Jewish organizations during Passover last month.
Jeffrey Thomas Klinkel, of Boulder, Colo., has been charged with two counts of felony menacing, two counts of interfering with an educational institution and two counts of using a hoax explosive or biological weapon. Following his arrest on Thursday, he also was charged with a failure-to-appear warrant related to a previous criminal case in Erie, Colo., jail records show.
The charges are related to letters containing white powder sent in early April, during Passover, to the Boulder Jewish Community Center and Congregation Har HaShem, a Jewish place of worship in Boulder, authorities say.
The threat letters resulted in the evacuations of a dozen children from the Jewish Center and a response by the Boulder County hazmat team, according to media reports.
The note in the envelope delivered to the Jewish Community Center said: “This Goyim is enjoying the blood of her enemies for Passover,” according to court documents. A similar note accompanied the envelope sent to Congregation Har HaShem.
The white powder in both envelopes was corn starch, the Boulder Daily Camera reported. A forensic examination also turned up Klinkel’s fingerprint on both letters, charging documents say.
Investigators searched Klinkel’s parents’ home, where he sometimes lived, and recovered books covering “multiple religious views and conspiracy theories,” the Colorado Spring Gazette reported. Authorities didn’t immediately return telephone calls Monday from Hatewatch, seeking additional details.
The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, Boulder City Police, U.S. Postal Inspectors and the FBI jointly handled the investigation.
Scott L. Levin, Mountain States Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League, issued a statement commending investigators for their inter-agency cooperation that led to the suspect’s arrest.
“We hope that in the coming days as formal charges are brought against him, that the Boulder District Attorney will also issue bias-motivated charges if they are found to be warranted,” Levin said.
“While we are relieved that no one was harmed, Levin said, the letters “were clearly sent to scare the staff, members and others who may visit these institutions. These incidents serve as a reminder that we must all be vigilant about security.”
The leader of an Amish splinter sect in Ohio had his prison sentence reduced by one-third Monday after a federal appeals court ruled a jury was given improper instructions before deciding it was a hate crime to forcibly shave the beards and hair of members who tried to leave.
Samuel Mullet, 69, was given a modified sentence of 10 years and nine-months by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who in February 2013 had originally sentenced Mullet to 15 years. The case was the first in Ohio under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act enacted in 2009.
On the day he was sentenced, a 28-year-old neo-Nazi skinhead who viciously stabbed a black man in the head with scissors had an surprising epiphany.
“We have more in common than we don’t,” Ryan Zietlow-Brown told his victim in court, apologizing for the hate crime he committed in downtown Santa Barbara, Calif., in August 2011.
Zietlow-Brown was sentenced on Tuesday to 22 years and 4 months in prison after pleading no contest in early January to felony charges of attempted murder and mayhem with a hate crime motivation, the Santa Barbara Independent reported today.
Defense attorney Steven Andrade told the court that Zietlow-Brown had been awake for five days, high on methamphetamine, and that he suffered from a “brain irregularity” causing impulsive behavior. Andrade argued that the crime was more a consequence of Zietlow-Brown being “angry and out of control” rather than being racially motivated.
Prosecutor Kim Siegel said Zietlow-Brown was involved in multiple racially based fights prior to his arrest, showing “complete disregard for human safety and life,” the newspaper reported. She disagreed with a defense claim that the young man has given up his white supremacist affiliations.
Addressing the court, the defendant also apologized his mother, Shelya Rosenbaum — who is Jewish and of African-American descent — for his beliefs.
After sentencing, she told the newspaper she and her husband had spent tens of thousands of dollars on boot camps and therapy, but “no amount of treatment or money can overcome addiction.” She also apologized to the victim and gave him a hug as they left the courtroom.
The FBI has opened an “initial inquiry” – a procedural step before a full investigation – into this week’s fatal shootings of three young Muslims at a housing complex in Chapel Hill, N.C., near the University of North Carolina.
“The FBI has also opened a parallel preliminary inquiry to determine whether or not any federal laws were violated related to the case,” the FBI said in a statement, the Washington Post reports in today’s editions.
Chapel Hill police currently are the lead agency in investigating the shooting deaths on Tuesday of newlyweds Deah Barakat, 23, and Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, all students at the University of North Carolina.
Before a formal investigation is begun by the FBI, the agency frequently opens what it calls an “initial inquiry” to determine if there is sufficient evidence to justify full-blown federal intervention. With the FBI involved, federal charges can be filed against suspects in an investigation, supplanting or supporting state charges.
A neighbor of the victims, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, surrendered to police after the shootings. He has been charged with three counts of murder and remains in jail. Chapel Hill police have said “an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking” may have been a factor in the shootings.
But Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of the sisters who were killed, has publicly said the murders were a hate crime and called upon the FBI to investigate. “This has hate crime written all over it,” the father told reporters at the funeral of his daughters. Others, including fellow Muslims, have echoed that sentiment.
The Washington Post reported that the shooting “has stirred a deep sense of fear and vulnerability” for Muslims living in and near Chapel Hill. “As thousands gathered Thursday to mourn the victims, more and more people there were discussing whether bias played a role in the shootings and the larger issue of anti-Islamic sentiment,” the newspaper reported.
Hicks’ Facebook page was filled with statements against religion of all types, although Islam was not particularly singled out. Hicks also was a gun enthusiast, as evidenced by his many postings on gun websites and also an Amazon “wish list” that included such items as rifle scopes. In addition, the sisters’ father has said that one of his daughters told him before her murder that she had a scary neighbor who appeared to be upset by the traditional Muslim hijabs the two women wore.
There are other reasons for Muslims in America to feel under siege. Recent weeks and months have been thick with news of jihadist horrors — the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, the murder of American Kayla Mueller by the Islamic State and the beheadings and burning alive of a Jordanian pilot by the same group, the Taliban’s mass murder of 145 people at a school in Pakistan, and more.
A poll out earlier this week, from LifeWay, a Christian nonprofit research group, found that 27% of Americans now see the barbaric Islamic State as representative of mainstream Islam. A variety of politicians and pundits have been aggressively attacking Muslims and their faith, often in the guise of working to pass laws to prevent the imposition of Shariah law on American courts — an impossibility under the Constitution.
And that’s not all.
This morning, American Muslims awoke to the news that a large building at a new Islamic community center in Houston had been entirely gutted by an early morning fire. Though officials were not saying if the blaze was caused by arson, officials at the center said they had been told that it was started by a person, although perhaps accidentally.
Imam Zahid Abdullah also told ABC News that he saw a suspicious man near the center on Wednesday and last night. “My son was passing by here and somebody was sitting her in a white Ram, making mockery, chanting, “ he said.
Another Islamic center in Houston was attacked by arsonists in 2011. There have been similar attacks on Islamic centers in Jacksonville, Fla., and Corvallis, Ore.
President Obama issued a statement about the triple homicide in Chapel Hill today that sought to reassure Muslims, calling the murders “brutal and outrageous,” and confirming that the FBI’s would see if federal laws were violated.
“No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship,” the president said.