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Extremism Headlines: Sovereign Citizen shooting, Energy Substation Attacks and Holocaust Education

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 May 10.

Holocaust Education: A Mixed Bag in U.S. Schools

  • Hatewatch published an analysis on the state of Holocaust education in U.S. schools on May 3. The article underscores the Holocaust as an indelible chapter in human history but argues that some conduct “insincere” instruction of the topic. The article also notes that other atrocities are not taught, which “raises the question of why some deem the Holocaust to be the only ‘acceptable tragedy’ to teach children.”
  • The analysis calls for a more robust and inclusive educational framework to ensure future generations understand the atrocities of the Holocaust and the circumstances that led to it.
  • Hatewatch has long covered issues surrounding the Holocaust, including Holocaust denial and revisionism.

Extremist Attacks on Energy Substations

  • Extremists are increasingly planning attacks on the U.S. power grid, which have reached a decade-high surge, a High Country News (HCN) article explains. The surge in incidents has raised concerns about the vulnerability of the U.S. electricity infrastructure. 
  • HCN also mentions that violent conspiracies focused on targeting and destroying energy infrastructure have become one of the top themes on extremist social-media platforms and messaging apps. Federal regulators are growing increasingly concerned about the U.S. electricity system’s vulnerability, according to the article. The number of potential attack points for the grid is set to increase as the demand for power for electric vehicles increases and the power system expands to accommodate renewable energy, according to the article.
  • Brandon Russell, the one-time leader of the neo-Nazi accelerationist Atomwaffen Division looks set to face trial on July 8 for an alleged plot to attack Baltimore power substations, according to Baltimore's CBS affiliate WJZ.

Fact-Checking Claims About Soros Funds and Campus Protests

  • A PolitiFact investigation found that claims of billionaire George Soros funding student protests lack critical context of the separation between Soros-linked funds and grassroots protests. The claims have been circulating on social media through a screenshot of a widely shared New York Post article. The article suggests that Soros, through his grant-making organization, Open Society Foundations (OSF), is providing grants to organizations linked to the protests, PolitiFact said. 
  • The article found that the connection between OSF funds and specific campus protesters involves several degrees of separation. OSF has indeed awarded grants to some groups linked to the demonstrations by media reports, but there is no direct evidence that these funds are being used to finance the protests. The allegations have been amplified by U.S. Representatives Elise Stefanik and Beth Van Duyne. Despite these claims, the evidence suggests that the protests are not being directly bankrolled by Soros.
  • The far right has long made claims that Soros or OSF funds protestors, thanks in part to the influence of Hungary's Fidesz party and their anti-Soros narratives.

Sovereign Citizen Who Shot Two Deputies Identified 

  • Authorities have identified a sovereign citizen who shot two deputies in Polk County, Florida, as self-identified Moorish sovereign citizen Kyran Caples, 26, also known as “Kmac El Bey,” local outlet ClickOrlando reported on April 29. Deputies shot and killed Caples after returning fire, according to reports. The deputies, Lt. Chad Anderson and Deputy Craig Smith, were checking out Hunt Fountain Park due to burglary concerns when they encountered Caples. Authorities claimed that Caples refused to cooperate with the deputies. When they tried to remove him from his vehicle, Caples pulled out a gun and shot both deputies, they said.
  • Sheriff Grady Judd revealed that Caples identified as a Moorish sovereign citizen, a group known for its belief that current government laws do not apply to them. Both deputies are in intensive care, according to ClickOrlando. 
  • Hatewatch has previously reported on sovereign citizens engaging in violence.

Read last week's edition here: Extremism Headlines: Christian nationalists at protests, Jan. 6 plea, far-right election plans

Above photo: Workers with Randolph Electric Membership Corporation work to repair the Eastwood Substation in West End, N.C., Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, after two deliberate attacks on electrical substations in Moore County last Saturday evening caused days-long power outages for tens of thousands of customers. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP)

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