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Extremism Headlines: Book bans, conspiracy theories, FBI building attack

Every week, we highlight stories on extremism and the radical right from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. Here are stories that caught our attention through April 12.

Pretrial hearing set for Navy veteran's attempted ramming of FBI building

  • Ervin Lee Bolling, a 48-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, is scheduled for a bond hearing on April 23 after allegedly attempting to breach the gate at the FBI's Atlanta headquarters, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Accused of ramming a Buick Encore into the facility's final denial barrier, Bolling faces federal charges of destruction of government property and state charges of interference with government property. The incident, which authorities claim caused damage exceeding $1,000, could result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Law enforcement found Bolling, who has no prior disciplinary military history or serious civilian legal issues, was carrying his passport when they took him into custody, the report says.
  • Investigations revealed Bolling's online activity linked to QAnon conspiracy theories, according to Wired. Hatewatch has previously examined extremism among active-duty military and veterans.

Transgender student denied entry to prom for wearing dress

  • A transgender student in Jackson County, Alabama, was denied entry to her prom because she was wearing a dress, according to local ABC affiliate WAYY 31. Lesa Drake, a parent from Jackson County, advocated for the transgender student, the report said. Despite the principal's claim that the school's handbook prohibited this, Drake found no such rule upon reviewing the document.
  • The incident, recorded by a police officer's body camera, highlights the challenges faced by transgender students. Drake emphasized the importance of support for these students, stating that their expression and visibility are crucial to their well-being.
  • Hatewatch has extensively reported on discrimination that LBGTQ people face.

Anti-vaccine activists hope to take over Florida public hospital

  • A group of anti-vaccine activists, including the sister of Michael Flynn, are attempting to gain control of the board of the Sarasota Memorial Hospital, according to The Daily Beast. Advocating for "medical freedom," their control could influence the hospital's policies on vaccinations and other medical practices. This situation has raised concerns among local residents and medical professionals.
  • Some expressed concern that anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists may take over hospital boards the same way anti-LGBTQ activists took over school boards. Hatewatch has reported on these efforts, including several school board candidates supported by anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Watch International.

Most books targeted for ban focus on LGBTQ, race topics: Library Association

  • The American Library Association (ALA) has expressed concern over the significant increase in book challenges during 2023, particularly those targeting LGBTQ and people of color, the Asbury Park Press reported on Tuesday. The number of unique titles challenged rose by 65%, with public libraries experiencing a 92% increase over the previous year. "Gender Queer" by Maia Kobabe was the most challenged book, primarily for LGBTQ content. The ALA emphasizes the importance of the freedom to read and highlights the need to protect this right against censorship efforts
  • Hatewatch has analyzed extremist efforts to ban books in schools across the U.S.

Above photo: An image taken from aerial video shows a vehicle stopped by a barrier at the front gate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Atlanta division, Monday, April 1, 2024, in Chamblee, Ga. (WSB via AP)

Read last week's edition here: Extremism Headlines: Uganda anti-LGBTQ law, Eastman disbarred, Politician claimed 'white genocide'

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