2018 saw most killings linked to US far right since 1995: ADL

Watchdog says 2018 saw most far-right-linked killings since 1995, with 42 of 50 murders carried out by firearm.

People protesting against US President Donald Trump wait near the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [Brendan Smialowski/AFP]

People protesting against US President Donald Trump wait near the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [Brendan Smialowski/AFP]

From a deadly ambush on a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 to a Parkland, Florida school shooting that left 17 dead, every US “extremism-related murder” in 2018 was linked to the far right,according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Last year marked the most killings by far-right attackers since 1995, with 42 of 50 murders carried out with firearms, an annual report published by the ADL concluded.

The report adds that 2018 was the fourth-deadliest year on record since the ADL started tracking such murders in 1970.

“The white supremacist attack in Pittsburgh should serve as a wake-up call to everyone about the deadly consequences of hateful rhetoric,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO, in a statement.

“It’s time for our nation’s leaders to appropriately recognise the severity of the threat and to devote the necessary resources to address the scourge of right-wing extremism.”

Hate before the vote: Pipe bombs, shootings, incitement

The ADL partly attributes the comparably high number of deaths to a series of mass shootings, including 17 incidents involving “shooting sprees that caused 38 deaths and injured 33 people”.

One of the perpetrators, 17-year-old Corey Johnson of Florida, had switched from white supremacism and “allegedly converted to Islam” prior to stabbing several people during a sleepover, killing a 13-year-old and injuring two others.

A demonstrator waits for the start of a protest in the aftermath of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh [Matt Rourke/AP Photo]

Unlike previous years, the ADL included a new category of political motivation known as the incel (or “involuntary celibacy”) movement.

The incel movement is a predominantly white online subculture populated by men who blame women for their failure to find sexual or romantic partners.

In November 2018, Scott Paul Beierle opened fire on a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, killing 61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem and 21-year-old Maura Binkley. Four others were injured; Beierle killed himself.

Media reports later found that Beierle had posted several YouTube videos in which “he revealed deep-seated hatred towards women, particularly women in interracial relationships who had ostensibly betrayed their ‘blood'”, the report says.

Hate crimes on the rise

In California’s Orange County on January 2, 2018, Samuel Woodward, a member of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, stabbed to death Blaze Bernstein, a former classmate of Woodward’s who was gay and Jewish. Woodward was charged with first-degree murder with hate crime enhancement.

In February 2018, Nikolas Cruz shot up his former high school in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 and wounding 17 more.

In October 2018, white nationalist Robert Bowers allegedly stormed a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania synagogue and shot dead 11 worshipers. Authorities charged him with 44 counts, including religious hate crimes.

The youngest victim was 53 years old and the oldest was 97.

Barry Werber, a 76-year-old survivor of that attack, later told the Associated Press, “I don’t know why he thinks the Jews are responsible for all the ills in the world, but he’s not the first and he won’t be the last.”

Anti-Muslim campaigning in the US is a ‘losing strategy’: report

Werber added, “Unfortunately, that’s our burden to bear. It breaks my heart.”

In the wake of the massacre, critics accused US President Donald Trump of stoking hatred and inciting against minorities, a charged Trump rejected.

Writing on Twitter after visiting the community in the wake of the incident, Trump dismissed the criticism and claimed his office was “shown great respect on a very sad and solemn day” in Pittsburgh.

The FBI reported a 17-percent rise in hate crimes in 2017, the largest increase in more than a decade.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Members of group giving food, water to migrants convicted of misdemeanors.

Four members of the group No More Deaths face a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a possible $500 fine.

Four humanitarian aid volunteers were convicted of misdemeanor charges on Friday after leaving food and water for migrants crossing a remote wildlife refuge on the United States-Mexico border in 2017.

Image: Scott Warren
Scott Warren’s trial is due to begin in May.Arizona State University

Four other volunteers with the group No More Deaths are set to go on trial next month and in March over similar charges, the organization said.

A ninth volunteer, Scott Warren, also faces felony harboring and concealment charges after allegedly providing food, water, beds and clean clothes to two undocumented immigrants last year. His trial is scheduled to begin in May.

In Friday’s decision, United State District Court Judge Bernardo Velasco said the volunteers — Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco — hadn’t obtained permits to enter the Cabeza Prieta Refuge and Wilderness Area or followed the Department of Interior’s rules while they were there.

They face a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a possible $500 fine.

No More Death has described the food and water its volunteers leave for the migrants in the 860,000-acre refuge, located west of Tucson, Arizona, as life-saving.

In a news release, the group said that 155 people are known to have died in the area since 2001.

“This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country,” one of the group’s volunteers, Catherine Gaffney, said in a statement. “If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?”

Last year, No More Deaths published videos of apparent border agents kicking and emptying water jugs that its volunteers had left in the desert. A report that was co-authored with La Coalición de Derechos Humanos documented what No More Deaths described as the “intentional destruction” of more than 3,000 gallons of water.

Video shows border agents dumping water left for migrants

“If anybody sees any activities like the ones seen in the videos, they need to inform us so we can take the corrective action because it’s not acceptable,” he said.

As punishment, the refuge’s law enforcement officer could have admonished or banned the volunteers from the refuge, Velasco wrote. But in this case, he added, the Department of Interior and Department of Justice authorized their prosecution.

In addition to not obtaining entry permits, Velasco wrote, the volunteers did not remain on designated roads and they left food, water and crates in the refuge — moves that erode the area’s “pristine nature,” he wrote.

“No one in charge of No More Deaths ever informed them that their conduct could be prosecuted as a criminal defense,” Velasco wrote. “The Court can only speculate as to what the Defendants’ decisions would have been had they known the actual risk of their undertaking.”

By Tim Stelloh, NBC

Deadly shooting at California bowling alley [Yay, USA!]

Police say three people killed and four injured in a shooting at a gaming complex near Los Angeles.

Police said they were searching for a suspect or suspects [Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images]
Police said they were searching for a suspect or suspects [Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images]

Three men have been killed and four wounded in a shooting in the US state of California after a late-night fight at a bowling alley.

The Torrance Police Department said officers responded to calls of “shots fired” at the Gable House Bowl in Torrance, a town about 40km south of Los Angeles, shortly before midnight on Friday

Multiple victims were found with gunshot wounds inside the gaming venue, which offers bowling, laser tag and an arcade.

Police said three men died at the scene and four male victims were injured, two of whom were transported to a hospital for unknown injuries while the other two injured sought medical treatment on their own.

“Investigators are currently conducting a follow-up investigation, and are working to identify the suspect(s) involved,” the department said in a statement.

Authorities have not released details about what led to the shooting, but witnesses said it stemmed from a fight between two large groups of people at the bowling alley.

‘Complete chaos’

Wes Hamad, a 29-year-old Torrance resident, was at the bowling alley with his 13-year-old niece and cousin when he saw a “huge fight” break out.

Hamad told the Associated Press news agency that the brawl, which lasted about five minutes, blocked the entrance of Gable House Bowl and devolved into “complete chaos”.

“I grabbed my niece and started running toward the far end of the bowling alley,” Hamad said. “As we were running, we heard 15 shots.”

As he was leaving, Hamad said he saw a woman weeping over a man who had multiple gunshot wounds to his head and neck.

Damone Thomas was in the karaoke section of the venue, a regular stop for him and his friends after work on Fridays, when people ran in saying there was a shooting.

The 30-year-old Los Angeles resident said his friend flipped over one of the tables to shield them as they heard gunshots.

Thomas told the AP he didn’t feel scared because he was “just trying to survive”. But when he was driving back home, he said he realised how traumatic the situation had been and he hasn’t been able to fall asleep.

“Closing my eyes, all I can see is the women against the wall crying, not knowing what to do,” he said.

The US has long dealt with the issue of mass shootings. In the first four days of 2019, there have been five mass shootings that resulted in five deaths, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a group that tracks such incidents.

Both Thomas and Hamad said they had never witnessed any violence at Gable House Bowl in the past, but Hamad said he had stopped going for a while because he heard someone with a gun was recently seen there.

“I definitely won’t be going back any more,” he added.

According to health authorities, nearly 40,000 people died in the US as a result of firearms in 2017 – a figure that includes suicides.

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37 year old (pregnant) African-American Woman Dies While in Mississippi Prison

H11 lanekia michelle brownLanekia Michelle Brown/Facebook

In Mississippi, the family of a 37-year-old African-American woman who died Sunday while in jail is demanding answers and says they suspect foul play. Lanekia Michelle Brown was arrested during a traffic stop in November and was awaiting trial on drug trafficking charges in prison. Brown reportedly complained of stomach pains shortly before her death. Her family says she was in the early stages of a pregnancy.

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