White supremacists involved in Minneapolis mayhem left behind a trail of emails, chat rooms, websites, reveling in the extremist right.
The white supremacists who showed up to a Black Lives Matter protest Monday night in Minneapolis and shot five African-American participants were not there just by coincidence.
As more facts emerge in the case, it’s now beginning to appear that not only was the attack a carefully planned attempt to disrupt the demonstration, but the men who participated in the shootings had conversed on websites and in chatrooms where racist and other far-right extremist ideology flourishes. Indeed, the men began networking in real life as a result of their Internet hatemongering.
Minneapolis police have now arrested three men in connection with the shooting, which occurred at about 10:45 p.m. in front of the police precinct station where the Black Lives Matter had set up an encampment Nov. 15 to protest the shooting that day of an unarmed 24-year-old black man named Jamar Clark.
According to several witness accounts, the men confronted protesters at the rally, but were in turn chased by a group of protesters into an alley, where one of them pulled a gun and shot into the crowd. None of the five victims suffered life-threatening injuries, but all were hospitalized. Authorities are trying to determine whether the men fired in self-defense, or whether the matter should be investigated as a hate crime.
“A group of white supremacists showed up at the protest, as they have done most nights,” Miski Noor, a spokesperson for Black Lives Matter, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Noor said the protesters tried to force the group to leave the area, and the men then “opened fire.”
As Travis Gettys at Raw Story reports, the men -- Allen Lawrence “Lance” Scarsella III, 23, of Bloomington; Nathan Gustavsson, 21, of Hermantown; and Daniel Macey, 26, of Pine City – originally connected through online conversations on Facebook and at such websites as 4chan. A fourth man who goes by the online name “Saiga Marine” was part of the same group, but police released the man after questioning Tuesday, saying he was not at the scene of the shooting Monday.
A Facebook video posted by BLM activists, reportedly taken from one of the men’s pages, shows two masked men driving in a car at night, brandishing a gun and saying they were planning to go harass the “dindus” (a pejorative term to describe the black protesters). It was reportedly recorded on Friday night, and the driver identifies himself as “Saiga Marine.”
“We are on our way, we’re going to knock this shit out,” said the driver. “F--- — and we’re going to see what these dindus are dinduing about.”
Emails posted online by the men seemed to show that they had planned these confrontations carefully. “Do you know if the BLM n------ are planning to protest again tomorrow, and if so, at what time?” one white supremacist asked in an email chain.
Scarsella’s Facebook page includes a photo of the “Bonnie Blue” version of the Confederate flag, which he captioned: “This isn’t the Somalian flag.” Among his “likes” are several gun groups associated with the extremist “III Percent” militia movement, as well as the “OAF Nation” (the acronym stands for “Operator As F---”) pro-militia group.
The fourth man’s Facebook page, according to the Star Tribune, shows him wearing military gear and toting various guns. He describes his occupation as “Saving the Constitution.” According to Gettys, “Saiga Marine” is a well-known presence on 4chan’s weapons-discussion forum.
Several black community leaders have lashed out at Minneapolis police for their handling of the incident. Minnesota NAACP leader Raeisha Williams accused the police of complicity in the shooting on CNN on Tuesday, claiming: “We believe the police department is facilitating the injustice, bullying the protesters. … And we also believe that they’re involved in this shooting. We know from blackboards and chat rooms and also videos that we have posted on our website that police that are from different counties, police from different districts have come down to entice the protesters, have come down to bully the protesters.”
Police officials have defended their response. An official statement reads: “Dozens of officers responded almost immediately attending to victims and secured the scene. Additional resources were called in and are actively investigating the shootings, interviewing a multitude of witnesses.”
Scott Seroka, a police department spokesman, told reporters: “At this point in the investigation, we know that the people that have been arrested have no connection to the MPD.”