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FTR #1003 School Shootings and Fascist Groups, Part 2

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This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment [5].

[6]

[7]

Patrick Edward Pur­dy

Intro­duc­tion: 

Pub­lic schools and pub­lic edu­ca­tion are, and for many years have been, the focal point of right-wing activ­i­ty. From dis­sat­is­fac­tion over man­dat­ed school deseg­re­ga­tion to oppo­si­tion to the judi­cial ban on prayer in pub­lic schools to the present-day dra­con­ian slash­ing of pub­lic edu­ca­tion budges, the right has attacked the pub­lic edu­ca­tion. At the same time, the right has pro­mot­ed the use of pub­lic funds for parochial schools and home school­ing as alter­na­tives to pub­lic edu­ca­tion.

The for­ma­tive expe­ri­ence of pub­lic school atten­dance might well be viewed as fun­da­men­tal to young peo­ples’ social­iza­tion process–learning to share, acquir­ing tol­er­ance for those of dif­fer­ent back­grounds and learn­ing the basics of civic life  in Amer­i­ca.

Pub­lic schools have also come under attack–quite literally–from armed fas­cists.

This is the sec­ond pro­gram deal­ing with school shoot­ings and the role fas­cist groups play in the devel­op­ment of such inci­dents. The broad­cast begins with a brief sum­ma­ry and recap of key points of dis­cus­sion from FTR #1002 [8]They include:

  1. Patrick Pur­dy’s appar­ent links to Aryan Nations.
  2. Pur­dy’s anti-Asian xeno­pho­bia, deem­ing that Amer­i­cans were being edged out in their own home­land.
  3. The Order’s attempts at devel­op­ing mind con­trol tech­niques.
  4. Pur­dy’s involve­ment with the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church.
  5. The pro­found effect of school shoot­ings on both par­ents and stu­dents of affect­ed insti­tu­tions. School shoot­ings fun­da­men­tal­ly under­mine peo­ples’ sense of com­fort and cre­ate an anx­i­ety con­ducive to the imple­men­ta­tion of total­i­tar­i­an­ism.
  6. The pro­vi­sion of Oliv­er North’s mar­tial law con­tin­gency plans to use para­mil­i­tary right-wingers as fed­er­al deputies.

Dis­cus­sion pro­ceeds to the Flori­da high school shoot­ing. Mort Sahl’s obser­va­tion decades ago that “A lib­er­al’s idea of courage is eat­ing at a restau­rant that has­n’t been reviewed yet” is exem­pli­fied by jour­nal­ists’ retrac­tion of the sto­ry of Park­land, Flori­da shoot­er Niko­las Cruz being affil­i­at­ed [9] with the ROF because of what might be termed “reverse trolling.” A post on a chat group about the Cruz/ROF link was deemed to be false. Jor­dan Jereb told jour­nal­ists that Cruz was a mem­ber of his group, but that he had­n’t seen him in a long time. He has been said to be “walk­ing that back.” Just HOW does one “walk that back?” ” . . . . The ADL said ROF leader Jor­dan Jereb told them Cruz was asso­ci­at­ed with his group. Jereb, who is based in Tal­la­has­see, said Cruz was brought into the group by anoth­er mem­ber and had par­tic­i­pat­ed in one or more ROF train­ing exer­cis­es in the Tal­la­has­see area, the ADL said. . . . Jereb told the ADL that ROF had not ordered Cruz to take any such action. He told ABC News he has not spo­ken to Cruz in ‘some time’ but said ‘he knew he would get­ting this call.’ . . . .”  Jereb told the ADL that ROF had not ordered Cruz to take any such action. He told ABC News he has not spo­ken to Cruz in “some time” but said “he knew he would get­ting this call.”

Whether or not Niko­las Cruz was for­mal­ly net­work­ing with the Repub­lic of Flori­da or oth­er neo-Nazi groups, he was indeed a neo-Nazi in spir­it: It turns out that Cruz had swastikas etched onto his ammu­ni­tion mag­a­zines used dur­ing the attack [10]This reminds us of the jot­tings Patrick Edward Pur­dy had on his weapons and cloth­ing.

Cruz didn’t just sud­den­ly adopt a neo-Nazi world­view. He’s been stew­ing in these juices for years [11], and clear­ly had addi­tion­al men­tal health issues.

Sev­er­al fac­tors great­ly exac­er­bate the school shoot­ing phe­nom­e­non.

The Steam gam­ing app, a major dis­trib­u­tor for very pop­u­lar video games, has a neo-Nazi problem–neo-Nazis are using its chat room and voice-over-IP options to pro­mote their ide­ol­o­gy. Both the Dai­ly Stormer and Andrew Auern­heimer have Steam chat rooms, as does Atom­Waf­fen. [12]

On these forums, there are 173 dif­fer­ent groups cham­pi­oning school shoot­ers [13], laud­ing them as heroes and set­ting the stage for future inci­dents. ” . . . . A lead­ing gam­ing app that is pop­u­lar with adher­ents of the neo-Nazi wing of the alt-right move­ment has at least 173 groups ded­i­cat­ed to the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of school shoot­ings, accord­ing to a report pub­lished last week by Reveal News [14]. . . .”

In addi­tion, Nazi groups are active­ly recruit­ing depressed peo­ple [15]! ” . . . . For years, mem­bers of the alt-right have tak­en advan­tage of the internet’s most vul­ner­a­ble, turn­ing their fear and self-loathing into vit­ri­olic extrem­ism, and thanks to the movement’s recent gal­va­niza­tion, they’re only grow­ing stronger. . . . Accord­ing to Chris­t­ian Pic­ci­oli­ni, a for­mer neo-nazi who co-found­ed the peace advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion, Life After Hate, these sort of recruit­ing tac­tics aren’t just com­mon, but sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly enforced. ‘[The recruiters] are active­ly look­ing for these kind of bro­ken indi­vid­u­als who they can promise accep­tance, who they can promise iden­ti­ty to,’ Pic­ci­oli­ni said in an inter­view with Sam Seder [16]. . . .”

Although not includ­ed in the audio por­tion of the pro­gram due to the lim­i­ta­tions of time, we note that, in our opin­ion, the pres­ence of lethal, mil­i­tary-style firearms are not, by them­selves, the pri­ma­ry fac­tor in the epi­dem­ic of school shoot­ings and oth­er mass casu­al­ty firearms attacks. A would-be school shoot­er can always pur­chase a pump-action, 12-gauge shot­gun, saw it off and pre­cip­i­tate con­sid­er­able may­hem.

Many of the school shoot­ings have been per­formed by fas­cists of one stripe or anoth­er, man­i­fest­ing the type of actions advo­cat­ed [17] by the likes of Michael Moy­ni­a­han, James Mason and their fel­low trav­el­ers. Mason and his role mod­el Charles Man­son are now viewed favor­ably [18] by a seg­ment of the Nazi move­ment. The role of nihilist/fascist ide­ol­o­gy in moti­vat­ing some of the school shoot­ers should be fac­tored into the dis­cus­sion.

[19]The role of the media in con­di­tion­ing young peo­ple to kill is a major focal point of the book On Killing [20]by Lieu­tenant Colonel Dave Gross­man, who taught psy­chol­o­gy at West Point. From Ama­zon’s pro­mo­tion­al text for Gross­man­’s book: “The good news is that most sol­diers are loath to kill. But armies have devel­oped sophis­ti­cat­ed ways of over­com­ing this instinc­tive aver­sion. And con­tem­po­rary civil­ian soci­ety, par­tic­u­lar­ly the media, repli­cates the army’s con­di­tion­ing tech­niques, and, accord­ing to Lt. Col. Dave Gross­man­’s the­sis, is respon­si­ble for our ris­ing rate of mur­der among the young. Upon its ini­tial pub­li­ca­tion, ON KILLING was hailed as a land­mark study of the tech­niques the mil­i­tary uses to over­come the pow­er­ful reluc­tance to kill, of how killing affects sol­diers, and of the soci­etal impli­ca­tions of esca­lat­ing vio­lence. Now, Gross­man has updat­ed this clas­sic work to include infor­ma­tion on 21st-cen­tu­ry mil­i­tary con­flicts, recent trends in crime, sui­cide bomb­ings, school shoot­ings, and more. The result is a work cer­tain to be rel­e­vant and impor­tant for decades to come.”

Our high body-count movies and TV pro­grams, as well as point-and-shoot video games, accord­ing to Gross­man, repli­cate to a con­sid­er­able degree the audio-visu­al desen­si­ti­za­tion tech­niques used by con­tem­po­rary armies to help recruits over­came their inhi­bi­tions about killing. We sug­gest Gross­man­’s the­sis as a fac­tor in the school mas­sacres.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  1. The para­mil­i­tary right-wing Oath Keep­ers [21] deploy­ment of heav­i­ly armed cadre out­side of schools.
  2. Dis­cus­sion of how the likes of Stew­art Rhodes and his Oath Keep­ers are the type of para­mil­i­tary right-wingers who would be dep­u­tized in the event of an acti­va­tion of mar­tial law con­tin­gency plans.
  3. The online dis­par­age­ment [22] of Park­land high school stu­dents by the “Alt-Right.”
  4. The use of the C14 mili­tias [23] in Ukraine to enforce pub­lic order in Kiev (the cap­i­tal) and 21 oth­er cities. The orga­ni­za­tion takes its name from the 14 words of David Lane, a mem­ber of the Order. One of that group’s founders was high­light­ed at the begin­ning of FTR #1002 [8], not­ing his quest to obtain sophis­ti­cat­ed weapon­ry and to devel­op mind-con­trol tech­niques.

1. The pro­gram begins with a brief sum­ma­ry and recap of key points of dis­cus­sion from FTR #1002 [8]They include:

  1. Patrick Pur­dy’s appar­ent links to Aryan Nations.
  2. Pur­dy’s anti-Asian xeno­pho­bia, deem­ing that Amer­i­cans were being edged out in their own home­land.
  3. The Order’s attempts at devel­op­ing mind con­trol tech­niques.
  4. Pur­dy’s involve­ment with the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church.
  5. The pro­found effect of school shoot­ings on both par­ents and stu­dents of affect­ed insti­tu­tions. School shoot­ings fun­da­men­tal­ly under­mine peo­ples’ sense of com­fort and cre­ate an anx­i­ety con­ducive to the imple­men­ta­tion of total­i­tar­i­an­ism.
  6. The pro­vi­sion of Oliv­er North’s mar­tial law con­tin­gency plans to use para­mil­i­tary right-wingers as fed­er­al deputies.

2a.  In the wake of the Flori­da high school shoot­ing, an under-report­ed and sub­se­quent­ly retract­ed aspect of the killings con­cerns accused shoot­er Niko­las Cruz’s par­tic­i­pa­tion (includ­ing weapons train­ing and polit­i­cal indoc­tri­na­tion) with the Repub­lic of Flori­da. The ROF is ” . . . a white suprema­cist group . . . .” It describes itself:  “. . . .  as a ‘white civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion fight­ing for white iden­ti­tar­i­an pol­i­tics’ and seeks to cre­ate a ‘white eth­nos­tate’ in Flori­da. . . .”

Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est in analy­sis of the Flori­da shoot­ing is the advo­ca­cy on the part of ROF leader Jor­dan Jereb for the “lone wolf/leaderless resis­tance” strat­e­gy: ” . . . . A train­ing video the group post­ed online shows mem­bers prac­tic­ing mil­i­tary maneu­vers in cam­ou­flage cloth­ing and salut­ing each oth­er, along with music with the lyric: ‘They call me Nazi / and I’m proud of it.’ In the weeks before the attack, on Gab, a social media net­work some­times used by white nation­al­ists, Jereb had recent­ly praised Nor­we­gian mass killer Anders Breivik as a ‘hero.’ He also post­ed a dia­grammed strat­e­gy for using the Repub­lic of Flori­da mili­tia to cre­ate ‘lone wolf activists.’ . . . .”

[24]

Niko­las Cruz (insert at left)

Sev­er­al con­sid­er­a­tions to be weighed in con­nec­tion with the inci­dent:

  “Flori­da school shoot­ing sus­pect linked to white suprema­cist group: ADL” by Aaron Kater­sky, Noor Ibrahim, Josh Mar­golin, Bri­an Epstein; ABC News; 02/15/2018 [9]

The Anti-Defama­tion League, a civ­il rights watch­dog, told ABC News they have infor­ma­tion they believe to be cred­i­ble link­ing Niko­las Cruz, the Flori­da school shoot­ing sus­pect, to a white suprema­cist group called Repub­lic of Flori­da. The ADL said ROF leader Jor­dan Jereb told them Cruz was asso­ci­at­ed with his group. Jereb, who is based in Tal­la­has­see, said Cruz was brought into the group by anoth­er mem­ber and had par­tic­i­pat­ed in one or more ROF train­ing exer­cis­es in the Tal­la­has­see area, the ADL said. Law enforce­ment offi­cials have not con­firmed the link.

ROF has most­ly young mem­bers in north and south Flori­da and describes itself as a “white civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion fight­ing for white iden­ti­tar­i­an pol­i­tics” and seeks to cre­ate a “white eth­nos­tate” in Flori­da.

Three for­mer school­mates of Cruz told ABC News that Cruz was part of the group. They claimed he marched with the group fre­quent­ly and was often seen with Jereb, who also con­firmed to ABC News that Cruz was, at least at one point, part of that group.

Jereb told the ADL that ROF had not ordered Cruz to take any such action. He told ABC News he has not spo­ken to Cruz in “some time” but said “he knew he would get­ting this call.” He would not com­ment fur­ther but empha­sized that his group was not a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion.

Fam­i­ly mem­bers, class­mates and for­mer friends described Cruz, a 19-year-old for­mer stu­dent, as a trou­bled teen who was large­ly alone in the world when he alleged­ly stormed through the school car­ry­ing an AR-15 rifle and mul­ti­ple mag­a­zines.

He was able to leave the school after the shoot­ing by blend­ing in with oth­er stu­dents who were try­ing to escape, but he was appre­hend­ed short­ly there­after. He has been answer­ing ques­tions from inves­ti­ga­tors work­ing on the case.

Cruz was adopt­ed as an infant, but he had been liv­ing with the fam­i­ly of a class­mate after the sud­den death of his adop­tive moth­er late last year. His adop­tive father died in 2005.

In an inter­view with ABC News’ George Stephanopou­los, an attor­ney for the fam­i­ly that had tak­en Cruz in for the past few months said Cruz was “depressed” fol­low­ing his mother’s death but he had been going to ther­a­py.

The fam­i­ly is still “shocked,” he said, that Cruz would alleged­ly engage in mass vio­lence.

“They indi­cat­ed they saw noth­ing like this com­ing,” Lewis said. “They nev­er saw any anger, no bad feel­ings about the school.”

They were aware that Cruz was in pos­ses­sion of a mil­i­tary-style assault weapon, he said, which two law enforce­ment offi­cials tell ABC News was legal­ly pur­chased by Cruz with­in the past year from a fed­er­al­ly licensed deal­er. They insist­ed that it be locked in a safe.

“He brought it into the home and it was in a locked gun safe,” Lewis said. “That was the con­di­tion when he came into their home that the gun was locked away.”

Cruz’s for­mer class­mates, how­ev­er, were less sur­prised.

A stu­dent who told ABC News that he par­tic­i­pat­ed in Junior ROTC with Cruz described him as a “psy­cho.” Cruz was a well-known weapons enthu­si­ast, the stu­dent said, who once tried to sell knives to a class­mate.

Anoth­er stu­dent told ABC News that before Cruz was expelled from the school he was barred from car­ry­ing a back­pack on cam­pus. The class­mate said the rule was put in place after the school found bul­let cas­ings in his bag after a fight with anoth­er stu­dent.

One stu­dent said Cruz even once threat­ened to “shoot up” the school.

“About a year ago I saw him upset in the morn­ing,” stu­dent Brent Black told ABC News. “And I was like, ‘yo what’s wrong with you?’ And he was like ‘umm, don’t know.’ And I was like ‘what’s up with you?’ He’s like ‘I swear to God I’ll shoot up this school.’ And then I was like ‘watch what you’re say­ing around me,’ and then I just left him after that. He came up to me lat­er on the day and apol­o­gized for what he said.”

On Thurs­day, the FBI issued a state­ment say­ing that it was alert­ed in 2017 to a threat on YouTube by some­one who said “I am going to be a school shoot­er.”

“In Sep­tem­ber 2017, the FBI received infor­ma­tion about a com­ment made on a YouTube chan­nel. The com­ment said, “I’m going to be a pro­fes­sion­al school shoot­er.” No oth­er infor­ma­tion was includ­ed in the com­ment which would indi­cate a par­tic­u­lar time, loca­tion, or the true iden­ti­ty of the per­son who post­ed the com­ment. The FBI con­duct­ed data­base reviews and oth­er checks, but was unable to fur­ther iden­ti­fy the per­son who post­ed the com­ment.”

Accord­ing to Broward Coun­ty Sher­iff Scott Israel, inves­ti­ga­tors have already found some “dis­turb­ing” con­tent on social media that could have pro­vid­ed warn­ing signs.

“We have already begun to dis­sect his web­sites and things on social media that he was on, and some of the things that have come to mind are very, very dis­turb­ing,” Israel said.

The pho­tos post­ed on an Insta­gram account law enforce­ment sources tell ABC News belongs to the sus­pect­ed shoot­er shows a young man dis­play­ing an arse­nal of weapons.

2b. More about the Repub­lic of Flori­da:

 “Attor­ney: Flori­da shoot­ing sus­pect is ‘sad, mourn­ful, remorse­ful’ and ‘a bro­ken human being’” by Matt Pearce, Mol­ly Hen­nessy-Fiske and Jen­ny Jarvie; The Los Ange­les Times; 02/15/2018 [27]

The expelled stu­dent accused of killing 17 peo­ple at his for­mer South Flori­da high school is “sad, mourn­ful, remorse­ful” and “he’s just a bro­ken human being,” one of his attor­neys told reporters Thurs­day.

After a judge ordered Niko­las Cruz, 19, held with­out bond as he faces 17 counts of pre­med­i­tat­ed mur­der, defense attor­ney Melis­sa McNeil said that Cruz was “ful­ly aware of what is going on,” but had a trou­bled back­ground and lit­tle per­son­al sup­port in his life before the attack.

Cruz appeared via video, in an orange jump­suit and with his head slight­ly bowed, for an ini­tial Broward Coun­ty court hear­ing Thurs­day.

Mean­while, inves­ti­ga­tors were scour­ing Cruz’s social media posts for pos­si­ble motives or warn­ing signs of the attack. Sev­er­al social media accounts bear­ing Cruz’s name revealed a young man fas­ci­nat­ed by guns who appeared to sig­nal his inten­tions to attack a school long before the event.

Nine months ago, a YouTube user with the han­dle “niko­las cruz” post­ed a com­ment on a Dis­cov­ery UK doc­u­men­tary about the gun­man in the 1966 Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas shoot­ing that read, “I am going to what he did.”

Oth­er past com­ments by YouTube users with Cruz’s name report­ed­ly includ­ed one remark in Sep­tem­ber, say­ing: “Im going to be a pro­fes­sion­al school shoot­er.” At a news brief­ing in Flori­da, Robert Lasky, the FBI spe­cial agent in charge, con­firmed that the FBI had inves­ti­gat­ed that com­ment. But he said the agency couldn’t iden­ti­fy the per­son in ques­tion.

In anoth­er post on Insta­gram, where he post­ed pho­tos of him­self in masks and with guns, Cruz wrote anti-Mus­lim slurs and appar­ent­ly mocked the Islam­ic phrase “Allahu Akbar,” which means God is great­est.

Con­fu­sion also swirled after the leader of a white nation­al­ist mili­tia said that Cruz had trained with his armed group, a claim that drew wide atten­tion but could not be imme­di­ate­ly ver­i­fied.

The leader of the Repub­lic of Flori­da mili­tia, Jor­dan Jereb, told researchers at the Anti-Defama­tion League that Cruz had been “brought up” into the group by one of its mem­bers, the ADL said in a blog post. ABC News also claimed to have spo­ken to three peo­ple who ver­i­fied Cruz’s mem­ber­ship, but some white nation­al­ists expressed con­cern that the news out­let may have been tar­get­ed by a coor­di­nat­ed hoax.

The Repub­lic of Flori­da calls itself “a white civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion fight­ing for white iden­ti­tar­i­an pol­i­tics” on its web­site, adding that its “cur­rent short-term goals are to occu­py urban areas to recruit sub­ur­ban young whites” in pur­suit of “the ulti­mate cre­ation of a white eth­nos­tate.”

A train­ing video the group post­ed online shows mem­bers prac­tic­ing mil­i­tary maneu­vers in cam­ou­flage cloth­ing and salut­ing each oth­er, along with music with the lyric: “They call me Nazi / and I’m proud of it.”

In the weeks before the attack, on Gab, a social media net­work some­times used by white nation­al­ists, Jereb had recent­ly praised Nor­we­gian mass killer Anders Breivik as a “hero.” He also post­ed a dia­grammed strat­e­gy for using the Repub­lic of Flori­da mili­tia to cre­ate “lone wolf activists.”

Jereb lat­er told the Asso­ci­at­ed Press that he didn’t know Cruz per­son­al­ly and that the group had no knowl­edge of his plans for the vio­lent attack. “He act­ed on his own behalf of what he just did, and he’s sole­ly respon­si­ble for what he just did,” Jereb said.

2c. Here’s some addi­tion­al evi­dence   [28]that, whether or not Niko­las Cruz was for­mal­ly net­work­ing with the Repub­lic of Flori­da or oth­er neo-Nazi groups, he was indeed a neo-Nazi in spir­it: It turns out that Cruz had swastikas etched onto his ammu­ni­tion mag­a­zines used dur­ing the attack [10]This reminds us of the jot­tings Patrick Edward Pur­dy had on his weapons and cloth­ing.

“Shoot­ing sus­pect Niko­las Cruz had swastikas on ammu­ni­tion mag­a­zines”; CBS News; 02/27/2018 [10]

Flori­da school shoot­ing sus­pect Niko­las Cruz  [29]had swastikas ammu­ni­tion mag­a­zines he brought into Mar­jo­ry Stone­man Dou­glas High School [30] on Feb. 14, a fed­er­al law enforce­ment source with direct knowl­edge of the inves­ti­ga­tion told CBS News on Tues­day. Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of pre­med­i­tat­ed mur­der.

Cruz had 180 rounds of ammu­ni­tion left, a source con­firmed to CBS News.

Sources told CBS News that Cruz broke a third-floor win­dow, pos­si­bly to fire upon peo­ple from above. Sources say he tried to cre­ate a “sniper’s nest” by shoot­ing out the win­dow, fir­ing 16 rounds into the glass, CBS News cor­re­spon­dent Manuel Bojorquez reports. But the hur­ri­cane-proof glass appeared to have stopped it from shat­ter­ing, Bojorquez reports.

Inves­ti­ga­tors believe the sus­pect tried to reload, but after chang­ing mag­a­zine clips, his gun may have jammed, Bojorquez adds. Cruz then alleged­ly put down his weapon and left the build­ing, blend­ing in with oth­er stu­dents.

Police said Cruz told them he had “brought addi­tion­al loaded mag­a­zines to the school cam­pus and kept them hid­den in a back­pack until he got on cam­pus to begin his assault.”

Cruz is accused of open­ing fire at the high school in Park­land, Flori­da, on Valentine’s Day [31], killing 17 peo­ple and wound­ing 15 oth­ers. On Feb. 15, inves­ti­ga­tors said Cruz told them that as stu­dents began to flee, he decid­ed to dis­card his AR-15 rifle and a vest he was wear­ing so he could blend in with the crowd. Police recov­ered the rifle and the vest.

It’s still unclear why the sus­pect stopped shoot­ing.

Since the mas­sacre, dis­turb­ing details of Cruz’s past [32] have come to light. While the motive remains unclear, a YouTube com­men­ta­tor with his name post­ed on a video [33]: “I’m going to be a pro­fes­sion­al school shoot­er.”

Cruz was trans­ferred to a school with pro­grams for emo­tion­al­ly and dis­abled stu­dents when he was in eighth grade but want­ed to be main­streamed back into his home school, Broward Coun­ty School Super­in­ten­dent Robert Run­cie said Tues­day.

The Flori­da Depart­ment of Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies inves­ti­gat­ed Cruz in 2016, and police records show deputies went to his home more than three dozen times. Start­ing in Jan­u­ary 2016, Cruz was allowed to spend half his day at the alter­na­tive school and half at Stone­man Dou­glas to ease him into the less-struc­tured envi­ron­ment.

In August 2016, he start­ed back at Stone­man Dou­glas, but “the sit­u­a­tion had dete­ri­o­rat­ed” by Novem­ber, Run­cie said. That’s when Cruz, who had turned 18 in Sep­tem­ber 2016, refused the men­tal health ser­vices offered by the school. Run­cie said Cruz had the sup­port of his moth­er.

He remained at the school until Feb­ru­ary 2017, when school offi­cials final­ly decid­ed to remove him after unspec­i­fied behav­ior issues. He was told his only option was an alter­na­tive school.

Jor­dan Jereb, the leader of white nation­al­ist group Repub­lic of Flori­da, had ini­tial­ly claimed Cruz [34] was a mem­ber of his group but lat­er walked back the claim and local law enforce­ment said there was no proof that Cruz and Jereb ever met.

2d. Cruz didn’t just sud­den­ly adopt a neo-Nazi world­view. He’s been stew­ing in these juices for years, and clear­ly had addi­tion­al men­tal health issues–the“Alt-Right” Nazi groups specif­i­cal­ly tar­get depressed peo­ple to take advan­tage of their dis­or­ders.

“Niko­las Cruz Was a Racist. Does That Make His Attack Ter­ror­ism?” by Dean Obei­dal­lah; The Dai­ly Beast; 03/01/2018 [11].

On Tues­day, we learned a new, bone-chill­ing fact about the Park­land, Flori­da high school gun­man Niko­las Cruz that should’ve made nation­al head­lines but didn’t. That new devel­op­ment was that Cruz had etched swastikas [35] on the ammu­ni­tion mag­a­zines he car­ried on the day he com­mit­ted his bru­tal mas­sacre that took 17 lives.

When I first heard of this devel­op­ment, my jaw dropped for two rea­sons. First, does any­one actu­al­ly believe if Cruz had etched the words “Allah Akbar” on his gun mag­a­zines we wouldn’t have heard about that for near­ly two weeks after the attack? No way. I can assure you that infor­ma­tion would’ve been made pub­lic, inten­tion­al­ly or by way of a leak. And then Don­ald Trump would almost cer­tain­ly have pounced–without wait­ing for addi­tion­al evidence–to label this an Islam­ic ter­ror attack and try to use it to fur­ther his own polit­i­cal agen­da.

But what also was shock­ing is that despite this new piece of evi­dence, togeth­er with Cruz’s known his­to­ry of hate direct­ed at peo­ple of col­or and Jews, we aren’t see­ing a fuller dis­cus­sion in the media about whether this shoot­ing was inspired by Cruz’s appar­ent white suprema­cist ide­ol­o­gy.

As CNN had report­ed [36] with­in days of the Feb­ru­ary 14 attack, Cruz had in the past spewed vile com­ments in a pri­vate Insta­gram cha­t­room where he shared his hatred of “jews, ni**ers, immi­grants.” Cruz also wrote about killing Mex­i­cans and hat­ing black peo­ple sim­ply because of their skin col­or and he slammed Jews because in his twist­ed view they want­ed to destroy the world.

And Cruz’s white suprema­cist views also made their way from the online world to the real world. One of Cruz’s class­mates report­ed­ly [37] told a social work­er that Cruz had drawn a swasti­ka on his book back next to the words “I hate ni***rs.” He also shared [38] with oth­er stu­dents his “hat­ing on” Islam and slam­ming all Mus­lims as “ter­ror­ists and bombers.” And Cruz was also seen wear­ing [38] a Trump MAGA hat when he was enrolled in school well before the attack.

While ini­tial reports [39] that Cruz was actu­al­ly a mem­ber of a white suprema­cist group proved to be unfound­ed, there’s no dis­put­ing Cruz’s doc­u­ment­ed his­to­ry of spew­ing despi­ca­ble views that line up with the white nation­al­ist ide­ol­o­gy. But still, giv­en all that we’ve now learned, the ques­tion I have is: How much more evi­dence do we need before we dis­cuss in earnest whether Cruz’s white suprema­cist views played a role in this attack?!

True, there’s no evi­dence that Cruz tar­get­ed any spe­cif­ic group of peo­ple dur­ing his ram­page. But then again, ISIS-inspired ter­ror­ists who have com­mit­ted acts of ter­ror on U.S. soil, such as the man who inten­tion­al­ly drove a truck [40] on a New York City pedes­tri­an walk­way in 2017 that killed eight, didn’t tar­get any spe­cif­ic race or reli­gion. He and oth­ers like him com­mit­ted acts of ter­ror in fur­ther­ance of their sick, per­vert­ed ideology—to spread ter­ror.

And the swastikas on Cruz’s gun mag­a­zines take on a greater sig­nif­i­cance when you exam­ine the shoot­ing itself. Of the 17 peo­ple Cruz killed, at least five [41] were Jew­ish. (Some reports note it could be six [42].) Even more dis­turb­ing is that Cruz had report­ed­ly shot bul­lets into a Holo­caust his­to­ry [41] class that killed two of those stu­dents. Did Cruz inten­tion­al­ly tar­get that class since he had for­mer­ly been a stu­dent at the school? We don’t know but giv­en Cruz’s his­to­ry this is cer­tain­ly a fair ques­tion. And since he’s that rare mass-shoot­er who’s still alive, I pre­sume he’ll be asked.

In fact, the ques­tion of whether Cruz’s gun mas­sacre was an anti-Semit­ic attack inspired by a white suprema­cist ide­ol­o­gy was raised in an op-ed [42]in the lib­er­al Israeli news­pa­per Ha’aretz even before we learned about the swastikas on Cruz’s gun mag­a­zines. There, the writer not­ed that Cruz had expressed views “that Jews were part of a con­spir­a­cy to unseat white peo­ple from pow­er and destroy the world.”In response to that arti­cle, the writer was sub­ject­ed  [42]to an avalanche of vile anti-Semit­ic barbs.

Giv­en these new­ly revealed swastikas, it’s long over­due that we have that con­ver­sa­tion about whether Cruz was more than a trou­bled youth.And to be clear, Cruz was trou­bled. He had been repeat­ed­ly dis­ci­plined at school for dis­turb­ing behav­ior and for a peri­od of time was placed in a spe­cial school [43] for kids with emo­tion­al and behav­ior issues. On social media, he even wrote about his dream [44] of becom­ing a “pro­fes­sion­al school shoot­er.” But when he was eval­u­at­ed in 2016 by a men­tal health pro­fes­sion­al, he was deter­mined to be sta­ble and not in need of being invol­un­tar­i­ly com­mit­ted [43] to a men­tal health insti­tu­tion.

So why does it mat­ter if we raise the ques­tion of whether Cruz’s attack was inspired by his appar­ent white suprema­cist ide­ol­o­gy? For two rea­sons.

First and fore­most, it may save lives. We have seen a spike in the time of Trump of white suprema­cist vio­lence and activ­i­ties. As the Anti-Defama­tion League recent­ly doc­u­ment­ed [45], there were 34 extrem­ist-relat­ed deaths on U.S. soil in 2017. A major­i­ty of those, 18, were caused by white suprema­cists, while nine were caused by Islam­ic extrem­ists.

Sec­ond­ly, we need to end the media’s hypocrisy on this issue. If Cruz had been Mus­lim, we know from recent his­to­ry that the media would’ve labeled this a ter­ror­ist attack with­out the in-depth analy­sis into the terrorist’s men­tal health. But if the killer is white, the media and many in our nation pre­fer to believe the per­son is men­tal­ly ill and try to avoid label­ing him a ter­ror­ist. Just look at the case of Dylann Roof [46], who lit­er­al­ly stat­ed he had exe­cut­ed nine African Amer­i­cans because he want­ed to start a “race war,” yet few in the media referred to him as a ter­ror­ist..

In time we may learn the exact rea­son why Cruz com­mit­ted his ram­page. Per­haps it was tru­ly the act of a clin­i­cal­ly insane indi­vid­ual? Or maybe it was inspired by his white suprema­cist ide­ol­o­gy? But giv­en the evi­dence we have about Cruz togeth­er with the recent spike in white suprema­cist attacks on U.S. soil, it’s time we dis­cuss whether Cruz’s ram­page was a white suprema­cist ter­ror­ist attack. That’s the only way we can counter this grow­ing threat.

3. The Steam gam­ing app, a major dis­trib­u­tor for very pop­u­lar video games, has a neo-Nazi problem–neo-Nazis are using its chat room and voice-over-IP options to pro­mote their ide­ol­o­gy. Both the Dai­ly Stormer and Andrew Auern­heimer have Steam chat rooms, as does Atom­Waf­fen. [12]

There’s also an over­lap­ping prob­lem with Steam chat forums that glo­ri­fy school shoot­ers. 173 such groups glo­ri­fy­ing school shoot­ings accord­ing to one count.

Steam isn’t the only pop­u­lar gam­ing app that this neo-Nazi prob­lem. Dis­cord, anoth­er very pop­u­lar app for gamers, also appears to have a num­ber of chat rooms run by neo-Nazis. The Ger­man­ic Recon­quista group of Ger­man neo-Nazis who were train­ing peo­ple how to game Youtube’s algo­rithms did that train­ing using Dis­cord [47]. And, again, Steam and Dis­cord are both quite pop­u­lar.

The 173+ pop­u­lar video game chat forums on Steam that glo­ri­fy school shoot­ers are def­i­nite­ly part of the school shoot­ing prob­lem.

“Neo-Nazis, ‘Future School Shoot­ers’ Using Lead­ing Gam­ing App to Post Hate­ful Con­tent in Hun­dreds of Groups: Report” by Michael Edi­son Hay­den; Newsweek; 03/17/2018 [13]

A lead­ing gam­ing app that is pop­u­lar with adher­ents of the neo-Nazi wing of the alt-right move­ment has at least 173 groups ded­i­cat­ed to the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of school shoot­ings, accord­ing to a report pub­lished last week by Reveal News [14]. Sep­a­rate­ly, dozens of neo-Nazi groups have cul­ti­vat­ed active com­mu­ni­ties on the app.

The report notes that these Steam groups—which typ­i­cal­ly have between 30 and 200 active mem­bers—glo­ri­fy men like 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, who killed six peo­ple and injured over a dozen oth­ers in the vicin­i­ty of the cam­pus of Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San­ta Bar­bara, before com­mit­ting sui­cide in 2014.

Rodger was a vir­u­lent misog­y­nist and want­ed to pun­ish women for reject­ing him. Oth­er shoot­ers, like Seung-Hui Cho, the Vir­ginia Tech senior who killed 32 peo­ple in 2007, are also hailed in these Steam groups. The groups have names like “School Shoot­ers Are Heroes” and “Shoot Up a School.” Some of them allude to “future” school shoot­ings yet to take place and are filled with racist lan­guage.

The link between vio­lence and the scat­tered cul­ture of inter­net Nazism has received greater scruti­ny in recent weeks, fol­low­ing a CBS News report [10] that sus­pect­ed Park­land, Flori­da, mass shoot­er Niko­las Cruz alleged­ly pos­sessed gun mag­a­zines engraved with swastikas. Gam­ing apps like Steam have become increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar with­in that com­mu­ni­ty.

One exam­ple of neo-Nazis using Steam is Andrew “Weev” Auern­heimer, who han­dles the tech­ni­cal side of the white suprema­cist troll web­site Dai­ly Stormer, and sev­er­al months ago appeared to threat­en to “slaugh­ter” Jew­ish chil­dren [48] in retal­i­a­tion for his web­site being tak­en offline. Auern­heimer appears to have a group on the app, which dis­cuss­es games in the con­text of whether they por­tray Adolf Hitler in a favor­able light. The broad­er com­mu­ni­ty of Dai­ly Stormer also appears to have an active com­mu­ni­ty on Steam called “Storm Sect” with rough­ly 200 mem­bers.

Oth­er neo-Nazi groups on Steam have more overt­ly hate­ful and vio­lent names like “Fag Lynch Squad,” which depicts shad­owy fig­ures hang­ing limply from noos­es in its pro­file pic­ture. Atom­Waf­fen Divi­sion, a neo-Nazi group linked to a num­ber of mur­ders, had its com­mu­ni­ty on Steam removed ear­li­er this month, Reveal News report­ed.

Angela Nagle, a left­ist writer, demon­strat­ed links between the ori­gins of the alt-right and gam­ing cul­ture in her book Kill All Normies: Online Cul­ture Wars From 4Chan And Tum­blr To Trump And The Alt-Right. The ven­er­a­tion of school shoot­ers and oth­er killers is sim­i­lar­ly linked.

It is not only on Steam where neo-Nazis have found a plat­form with­in the gam­ing world. Dis­cord, anoth­er gam­ing app, was instru­men­tal to young neo-Nazis in plan­ning the Unite the Right event that took place in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, last August, which led to the death of counter-pro­test­er Heather Hey­er. Dis­cord has made efforts to remove vio­lent and far-right con­tent from its app fol­low­ing reports of the ral­ly, but new groups con­tin­ue to pop up on that plat­form.

Uni­corn Riot, a vol­un­teer media col­lec­tive, pub­lished record­ings and mes­sages [49] this week that appeared to reveal inter­nal plan­ning dis­cus­sions from the young white suprema­cist group Patri­ot Front, which were ini­tial­ly host­ed on Dis­cord. Patri­ot Front splin­tered from Van­guard Amer­i­ca, the group in which the man accused of killing Hey­er alleged­ly marched dur­ing the protests in Char­lottesville.

Dis­cord told Newsweek in a state­ment that the com­pa­ny is still try­ing to purge groups like Patri­ot Front from its app.

“Dis­cord has a Terms of Ser­vice and Com­mu­ni­ty Guide­lines that we ask all of our com­mu­ni­ties and users to adhere to. These specif­i­cal­ly pro­hib­it harass­ment, threat­en­ing mes­sages, or calls to vio­lence,” a spokesper­son said, not­ing that the group recent­ly removed sev­er­al offend­ing servers. “Though we do not read people’s pri­vate mes­sages, we do inves­ti­gate and take imme­di­ate appro­pri­ate action against any report­ed Terms of Ser­vice vio­la­tion by a serv­er or user.”

4a. Over­lap­ping the use of gam­ing chat forums to recruit depressed peo­ple.

“The Alt-right is recruit­ing depressed peo­ple” by Paris Mar­tineau; The Out­line; 02/26/2018 [15]

A video on YouTube enti­tled “Advice For Peo­ple With Depres­sion” [50] has over half a mil­lion views. The title is gener­ic enough, and to the unsus­pect­ing view­er, lec­tur­er Jor­dan Peter­son could even look legit­i­mate or knowl­edgable — a quick Google search will reveal that he even spoke at Har­vard once. But as the video wears on, Peter­son argues that men are depressed and frus­trat­ed because they don’t have a high­er call­ing like women (who, accord­ing to Peter­son, are bio­log­i­cal­ly required to have and take care of infants). This leaves weak men seek­ing “impul­sive, low-class plea­sure,” he argues. Upon first glance he cer­tain­ly doesn’t seem like a dar­ling of the alt-right, but he is [51].

Type “depres­sion” or “depressed” into YouTube and it won’t be long until you stum­ble upon a suit-clad white suprema­cist giv­ing a lec­ture on self-empow­er­ment. They’re every­where. For years, mem­bers of the alt-right have tak­en advan­tage of the internet’s most vul­ner­a­ble, turn­ing their fear and self-loathing into vit­ri­olic extrem­ism, and thanks to the movement’s recent gal­va­niza­tion, they’re only grow­ing stronger.

“I still won­der, how could I have been so stu­pid?” writes Red­dit user u/pdesperaux [52], in a post detail­ing how he was acci­den­tal­ly seduced by the alt-right. “I was part of a cult. I know cults and I know brain­wash­ing, I have researched them exten­sive­ly, you’d think I would have noticed, right? Wrong. These are the same tac­tics that Sci­en­tol­ogy and ISIS use and I fell for them like a chump.”

“NOBODY is talk­ing about how the online depres­sion com­mu­ni­ty has been infil­trat­ed by alt-right recruiters delib­er­ate­ly prey­ing on the vul­ner­a­ble,” writes Twit­ter user @MrHappyDieHappy [53] in a thread on the issue. “There NEED to be pub­lic warn­ings about this. ‘Online pals’ have attempt­ed to groom me mul­ti­ple times when at my absolute low­est.”

“You know your life is use­less and mean­ing­less,” Peter­son says in his “Advice” video, turn­ing towards the view­er, “you’re full of self-con­tempt and nihilism.” He doesn’t fol­low all of this rous­ing self-hatred with an answer, but rather mere­ly teas­es at one. “[You] have had enough of that,” he says to a class­room full of men. “Rights, rights, rights, rights…”

Peterson’s alt-light mes­sag­ing quick­ly takes a dark­er turn. Fin­ish that video and YouTube will queue up “Jor­dan Peter­son – Don’t Be The Nice Guy” (1.3 mil­lion views), and “Jor­dan Peter­son – The Trag­ic Sto­ry of the Man-Child” (over 853,000 views), both of which are prac­ti­cal­ly right out of the redpill/incel hand­book.

The com­mon rail­road stages of ‘help­ful’ link­ing to ‘moti­va­tion­al speak­ers’ goes ‘Jor­dan Peter­son —> Ste­fan Molyneux —> Mil­len­ni­al Woes,” writes @MrHappyDieHappy [53]. “The first is charis­mat­ic and not as harm­ful, but his per­sua­sive­ness leaves peo­ple open for the next two, who are frankly evil and dumb.” Molyneux, an anar­cho-cap­i­tal­ist who pro­motes sci­en­tif­ic racism and eugen­ics [54], has grown wild­ly pop­u­lar amongst the alt-right as of late. His videos — which argue, among oth­er things, that rape is a “moral right” — are often used [55] to help tran­si­tion [56] vul­ner­a­ble young men into the vit­ri­olic and racist core of the alt-right.

Though it may seem like a huge ide­o­log­i­cal leap, it makes sense, in a way. For some dis­il­lu­sioned and hope­less­ly con­fused young men, the alt-right offers two things they feel a seri­ous lack of in the throes of depres­sion: accep­tance and com­mu­ni­ty. These primer videos and their asso­ci­at­ed “sup­port” groups do a shock­ing­ly good job of acknowl­edg­ing the valid­i­ty of the depressed man’s exis­tence — some­thing men don’t often feel they expe­ri­ence — and cap­i­tal­ize on that good will by gal­va­niz­ing their mem­bers into a plan of action (which gen­er­al­ly involves fight­ing against some group or class of peo­ple des­ig­nat­ed as “the ene­my”). These sort of move­ments allot the depressed per­son a form of agency which they may nev­er have expe­ri­enced before. And whether it’s ground­ed in real­i­ty or not, that’s an addict­ing feel­ing.

Accord­ing to Chris­t­ian Pic­ci­oli­ni, a for­mer neo-nazi who co-found­ed the peace advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion, Life After Hate, these sort of recruit­ing tac­tics aren’t just com­mon, but sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly enforced. “[The recruiters] are active­ly look­ing for these kind of bro­ken indi­vid­u­als who they can promise accep­tance, who they can promise iden­ti­ty to,” Pic­ci­oli­ni said in an inter­view with Sam Seder [16]. “Because in real life, per­haps these peo­ple are social­ly awk­ward — they’re not fit­ting in; they may be bul­lied — and they’re des­per­ate­ly look­ing for some­thing. And the ide­ol­o­gy and the dog­ma are not what dri­ve peo­ple to this extrem­ism, it’s in fact, I think, a bro­ken search for that accep­tance and that pur­pose and com­mu­ni­ty.”

Some of the most tox­ic unof­fi­cial alt-right com­mu­ni­ties online [57] have oper­at­ed on this prin­ci­ple. r/Incels (which is now banned [58], thank­ful­ly), began as a place for the “invol­un­tar­i­ly celi­bate” to com­mis­er­ate, but quick­ly became the place for extreme misog­y­nists to gath­er and blame their prob­lems on women and minori­ties. “Men going their own way,” (MGTOW) was ini­tial­ly a space for men to com­mune and pro­tect their sov­er­eign­ty as dudes “above all else,” it devolved into an infi­nite­ly racist and misog­y­nis­tic hell­hole. Sim­i­lar fates have befall­en r/Redpill, r/MensRights, and count­less oth­ers. Com­mis­er­a­tion begets com­mu­ni­ty begets a vul­ner­a­ble trend towards group­think.

While it’s easy to iso­late pure­ly hate­ful con­tent, the type that preys upon the dis­en­fran­chised and uses much more insid­i­ous meth­ods to bring them into the fold is much more dif­fi­cult to man­age on expan­sive plat­forms like YouTube. Par­tic­u­lar­ly because the mes­sage being sent isn’t one of obvi­ous in-your-face hate speech, or some­thing so obvi­ous­ly objec­tion­able, but rather more of a slow burn. It’s not the sort of thing you can train algo­rithms to spot — or at least, not yet — mak­ing the issue of con­tain­ment that much hard­er to address.

4b. Fur­ther mud­dy­ing the inves­tiga­tive waters is the fact that the Flori­da high school stu­dents who protest­ed the ready avail­abil­i­ty of assault weapons have been tar­get­ed by right-wing com­men­ta­tors and inter­net forums.

“How Park­land Teens Became Vil­lains on the Right-Wing Inter­net” by Abby Ohlheis­er; Wash­ing­ton Post; 2/27/2018. [22]

Less than a week after 17 peo­ple died in Park­land, Fla., right-wing provo­ca­teur Dinesh D’Souza began taunt­ing some of the teenage sur­vivors of the mas­sacre. “Worst news since their par­ents told them to get sum­mer jobs,” he tweet­ed on Feb. 20 [59], com­ment­ing on a pho­to show­ing Park­land sur­vivors cry­ing as state leg­is­la­tors vot­ed down a bill to ban mil­i­tary-style weapons.

D’Souza wrote anoth­er tweet, “Adults, 1, kids 0.” Com­bined, the two tweets have more than 25,000 likes and 8,000 retweets.

Now, five weeks after the Park­land school shoot­ing, D’Souza’s tweets seem almost quaint. As Emma González, David Hogg and the oth­er Park­land teens fight­ing for gun con­trol have become viral lib­er­al heroes, the teens are vil­lains on the right-wing Inter­net and fair game for the mock­ery and attacks that this group usu­al­ly reserves for its adult ene­mies.

That infamy reached a wider audi­ence this past week­end around the time of their March for Our Lives protest, when a doc­tored image that showed González rip­ping up a copy of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion (she actu­al­ly ripped up a gun tar­get) went mild­ly viral on the Trump-sup­port­ing parts of the Inter­net, defend­ed as “satire” by those who shared it

Here’s a look back at how the Park­land stu­dent activists became such a tar­get:

Day 1: Con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists

The first to tar­get the Park­land stu­dents were the con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists. When a mass shoot­ing like Park­land hap­pens, con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists begin to search for signs of a false flag — proof that the shoot­ing was actu­al­ly staged and/or car­ried out for polit­i­cal rea­sons — pret­ty much right away. They’re fol­low­ing what online trolling expert Whit­ney Phillips calls a “tragedy script”: [60] The estab­lish­ment is try­ing to take away your guns, they’ll use mass shoot­ings to do that, and here are the tricks they use to manip­u­late the pub­lic. Any­thing irreg­u­lar becomes con­spir­a­cy fod­der.

An anony­mous 8chan user [61] told the fringe chat board to look for “cri­sis actors” just 47 min­utes after the shoot­ing hap­pened. And if closed chat rooms and fringey boards such as 8chan, 4chan and some sub­red­dits on Red­dit are where con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists coor­di­nate, then Twit­ter is where those con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries — and the harass­ment that comes with them — are per­formed for the pub­lic. With­in hours, anony­mous Twit­ter users were in the men­tions of stu­dents tweet­ing from their class­rooms dur­ing the shoot­ing, accus­ing them of being part of the con­spir­a­cy.

One Twit­ter thread, made just after mid­night on the night of the attack, claimed to con­tain “Bomb­shell” infor­ma­tion about Park­land. @Magapill (an account once approv­ing­ly retweet­ed [62] by Pres­i­dent Trump) shared a video inter­view with a stu­dent [63] that has become the basis of a debunked Park­land con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry. The thread was retweet­ed more than 3,000 times.

All this hap­pened before the Park­land stu­dents call­ing for gun con­trol began their ascent to viral iconog­ra­phy. When they emerged, the cam­paign to dis­cred­it and debunk the Park­land stu­dents expand­ed. . . .

 5a. The Oath Keep­ers, a right-wing para­mil­i­tary group, are advo­cat­ing to func­tion as armed sen­tinels at pub­lic schools.

“Armed Extrem­ist Mili­tias Want to Patrol Schools After the Park­land Shoot­ing” by Jer­ry Ian­nel­li; The Mia­mi New Times.; 02/27/2018 [21]

After the school mas­sacre in Park­land two weeks ago, Mark Cow­an, a griz­zled man in Fort Wayne, Indi­ana, began stand­ing out­side the town’s North Side High School. With a hand­gun. And an AR-15 in his car.

As a local TV sta­tion report­ed last Fri­day, Cow­an is one of 100 heav­i­ly armed, ide­o­log­i­cal­ly extreme “Oath Keep­ers” who have com­mit­ted to “stand­ing guard” out­side Indi­ana schools to stop events like the Stone­man Dou­glas shoot­ing from hap­pen­ing. The Oath Keep­ers are a fringe right-wing para­mil­i­tary group made up of for­mer vet­er­ans and law enforce­ment offi­cers who believe in “defend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion” against per­ceived threats, which basi­cal­ly just means “gun-con­trol laws.”

This unfor­tu­nate­ly might be a pre­view of what’s in store for our dystopi­an future: As the hate-track­ing South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter (SPLC) not­ed yes­ter­day, [64] Oath Keep­er founder Stew­art Rhodes this week instruct­ed group mem­bers to stand watch out­side schools, and the group held a webi­nar last night encour­ag­ing mem­bers to “stand guard” out­side ran­dom schools across the nation. The group’s Flori­da chap­ter is also encour­ag­ing local mem­bers to patrol out­side schools around the Sun­shine State.

“We will dis­cuss what you can and must do to fix this prob­lem effec­tive­ly in your com­mu­ni­ty and counter this blood­thirsty and cal­cu­lat­ed con­spir­a­cy to aid and abet mass mur­der,” the webinar’s announce­ment page reads. “The time to step up and answer the call is now. And the time to dig in our heels and take a firm ‘three per­center’ type stand against any fur­ther restric­tion on our right to keep and bear arms is now.”

 

The term “three per­center” refers to a dis­cred­it­ed the­o­ry that only 3 per­cent of America’s pop­u­la­tion rose up to fight the British Army in the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War. The “Three Per­centers” is a sep­a­rate mili­tia close­ly aligned with Oath Keep­ers [65].

Though mem­bers repeat­ed­ly deny they sup­port out­right white nation­al­ism [66] and are instead just hard-core lib­er­tar­i­ans, the mili­tias are often allied with white suprema­cists and tend to appear at the same ral­lies and events. SPLC notes the group oper­ates on [67] “a set of base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment work­ing to destroy the lib­er­ties of Amer­i­cans” and showed up with all-white, armed groups dur­ing protests in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, “to pro­tect white busi­ness­es against black pro­test­ers.”

Rhodes, the group’s founder, believes immi­grants are inten­tion­al­ly cross­ing the U.S.-Mexico bor­der as part of a “Com­mu­nist sub­ver­sive inva­sion” of the Unit­ed States. He also believes Black Lives Mat­ter and immi­grant- rights groups are also part of a secret Marx­ist takeover of Amer­i­ca. [67] Oath Keep­ers were also heav­i­ly involved in Cliv­en Bundy’s 2017 armed insur­rec­tion against the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in the Neva­da desert.

The groups also rose in pop­u­lar­i­ty as a reac­tion to Barack Obama’s pres­i­den­cy. You’re free to guess why. In light of his polit­i­cal lean­ings, it appears Niko­las Cruz was far like­li­er to have been an Oath Keep­er sym­pa­thiz­er than an antag­o­nist.

The Oath Keep­ers and Three Per­centers, for exam­ple, sent oper­a­tives to the Unite the Right neo-Nazi ral­ly in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, last year. [68] Because they’re made up of fringe ex-mil­i­tary types, they seem as like­ly to fight off a per­ceived armed threat as they are to get pissed off and shoot a kid because his Lil Uzi Vert T‑shirt resem­bled Mumia Abu-Jamal. The Oath Keep­ers have repeat­ed­ly prop­a­gat­ed a claim that “all fed­er­al gun con­trol is unlaw­ful, [69]” which is patent­ly and prov­ably false. Cow­an, the so-called guard stand­ing at North Side High in Fort Wayne, has mis­de­meanor bat­tery con­vic­tions in his past, and school reps say they don’t think his pres­ence makes any­one safer, espe­cial­ly because the cam­pus already has an offi­cial armed guard.

“We under­stand he has a right to be out there, as he is not on our prop­er­ty,” a school dis­trict spokesper­son told the Indi­ana TV sta­tion, “but we do not believe it adds to the safe­ty of our stu­dents. At North Side, as at all of our schools, we have secu­ri­ty pro­ce­dures in place. In addi­tion, at North Side, we have armed police offi­cers in the build­ing every day.”

It’s easy to see how the pres­ence of a ran­dom, heav­i­ly armed con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist could make a school-shoot­ing sit­u­a­tion worse. An Oath Keep­er might sprint into a school after hear­ing gun­shots and, say, rid­dle the wrong kid with rifle bul­lets. An arriv­ing SWAT team would be forced to deploy resources to appre­hend both a school shoot­er and an Oath Keep­er, because both peo­ple would be inside the school armed with weapons and it would be impos­si­ble to tell who’s shoot­ing whom or why.

Nat­u­ral­ly, the Oath Keep­ers also sup­port Florida’s pro­posed plans to arm teach­ers and place armed guards in schools, which passed through com­mit­tee last night and awaits a floor vote in both cham­bers of the state Leg­is­la­ture.

Such is the qual­i­ty of polit­i­cal dis­course in Flori­da in 2018: Rather than make it more dif­fi­cult for peo­ple like Cruz to buy AR-15 rifles, the Sun­shine State will instead train gym teach­ers with acute osteoarthri­tis how to mow down stu­dents with a Desert Eagle, while armed vets who fear a com­ing race war will stand out­side with assault rifles. Feel safer?

5b. Giv­en the high like­li­hood that schools and neigh­bor­hoods won’t want a heav­i­ly armed far-right indi­vid­ual hang­ing around their neigh­bor­hood schools, what does Stew­art Rhodes sug­gest his group do if their armed pres­ence isn’t want­ed? Just ignore them and do it any­way because it’s legal [70]:

“Oath Keep­ers Want To Sta­tion Vol­un­teer Armed Guards Out­side Schools” by Alle­gra Kirk­land; Talk­ing Points Memo; 02/26/2018 [70]

Imag­ine if every school cam­pus in the Unit­ed States had its own vol­un­teer secu­ri­ty offi­cer: a for­mer police offi­cer or mil­i­tary vet­er­an equipped with an assault rifle.

That’s the dream of Oath Keep­ers founder Stew­art Rhodes.

In the wake of the Feb­ru­ary 14 mas­sacre at a Park­land, Flori­da high school, Rhodes is call­ing on mem­bers of his far-right anti-gov­ern­ment mili­tia group [67] to serve as unpaid and unac­count­able armed school guards — whether teach­ers and stu­dents like the idea or not.

One Indi­ana Oath Keep­er has already deployed to a local school, even though the school dis­trict says there’s no need for him to be there.

Rhodes wants the mil­i­tary and police vet­er­ans who make up Oath Keep­ers’ mem­ber­ship to vol­un­teer for unpaid, rotat­ing shifts at schools of all lev­els, and col­leges, through­out the coun­try. He and two oth­er rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the fringe mili­tia com­mu­ni­ty will hold a webi­nar [71] Mon­day night where they plan to encour­age Oath Keep­ers to sta­tion them­selves at schools “to pro­tect the chil­dren against mass mur­der, and to help train the teach­ers and staff.”

“I think it’s essen­tial,” Rhodes told TPM in a Mon­day phone call. “It’s part of our respon­si­bil­i­ty to do what we can.”

“And what we can do is be out­side of schools so that we’re clos­er if an attack hap­pens, or when one hap­pens,” Rhodes con­tin­ued. “We’ll be there to be a fast response.”

Oath Keep­ers came to promi­nence as part of the surge of right-wing extrem­ism that marked the ear­ly years of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. At the group’s core are efforts to stoke fear around out­landish con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries [67] — that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will dis­arm all cit­i­zens, impose mar­tial law, and round Amer­i­cans up into deten­tion camps, among oth­er sce­nar­ios.

Rhodes, a Yale Law School grad­u­ate, has referred to Hillary Clin­ton as “Herr Hitlery,” and “the dom­i­na­trix-in-chief,” and has said John McCain should be tried for trea­son and then “hung by the neck until dead.”

The group’s push for vig­i­lante school secu­ri­ty offi­cers comes in the midst of a fraught nation­al debate over how to curb school shoot­ings like the one in Park­land that left 14 stu­dents and 3 staffers dead. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, the NRA and some GOP law­mak­ers all have sug­gest­ed arm­ing teach­ers who have firearms train­ing, as a way to deter would-be school shoot­ers — an idea Rhodes said he sup­ports. But since train­ing teach­ers will take time, he argues, it makes sense to use Oath Keep­ers vol­un­teers in the inter­im.

The Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of School Resource Offi­cers and many school shoot­ing sur­vivors [72], includ­ing those from Park­land [73], stren­u­ous­ly [74] oppose plans to arm teach­ers. Teach­ers may not feel safe wield­ing arms; stu­dents could get ahold of the weapons or get caught in cross­fire; law enforce­ment could mis­take an armed teacher or oth­er non-uni­formed school staffer for an assailant. The prospect of some­thing going wrong seems even high­er with non-vet­ted, non-pro­fes­sion­al mem­bers of a con­spir­a­to­r­i­al mili­tia group vol­un­teer­ing ser­vices that schools did not ask for.

Rhodes’ response? “Tough.”

“If they don’t like it, too bad,” Rhodes said. “We’re not there to make peo­ple feel warm and fuzzy; we’re there to stop mur­ders.”

“What I tell our peo­ple is don’t ask for per­mis­sion,” Rhodes con­tin­ued. “Let ‘em know what you’re doing and be as friend­ly as you can. But this is the real­i­ty we’re in right now.”

“Most schools have this retard­ed no-guns pol­i­cy,” Rhodes added, call­ing such mea­sures, “‘Alice in Won­der­land,’ upside-down think­ing.”

To avoid con­fu­sion, mem­bers will be asked to wear a “long-range iden­ti­fi­er” like a sash or orange vest, as well as a “close-range iden­ti­fi­er” one that copy­cats can­not imi­tate, Rhodes said. Before show­ing up, they’ll be asked to pro­vide police with copies of their dri­vers’ licens­es, descrip­tions of their out­fits and descrip­tions of their vehi­cles and license plates.

Mark Cow­an, an Indi­ana-based mem­ber of the Oath Keep­ers and an Army vet­er­an, has since Fri­day post­ed him­self out­side North Side High School in Fort Wayne, wear­ing an Oath Keep­ers base­ball hat and car­ry­ing a hand­gun and an AR-15.

“If some­body comes to this school or anoth­er school where we’re at, that school shoot­er is going to know, we’re not going to play games,” Cow­an told local sta­tion WPTA [75]. “You come to kill our kids, you’re dead.”

In oth­er inter­views with local media, Cow­an has said he is com­ply­ing with state law by park­ing his car just off of school grounds, and that he plans to remain there until the school, which already has an armed resource offi­cer, intro­duces addi­tion­al safe­ty mea­sures.

Accord­ing to local news reports, Cow­an was arrest­ed last year in con­nec­tion with a fight that involved his use of a dead­ly weapon, and plead­ed guilty plea to a count of mis­de­meanor bat­tery. He told WPTA that the inci­dent involved his effort to pro­tect two of his grand­chil­dren, who were attacked by anoth­er man. The guilty plea does not pre­vent him from car­ry­ing a firearm under Indi­ana law.

TPM was not imme­di­ate­ly able to reach Cow­an. But Bryan Humes, a spokesper­son for the Oath Keep­ers’ Indi­ana chap­ter, told TPM in a Mon­day phone call that Cow­an is serv­ing as “anoth­er set of eyes and ears” for North Side, which has some 1,800 stu­dents, and that oth­er mem­bers of the group are inter­est­ed in tak­ing up sim­i­lar posts.

“We’re just a lit­tle con­cerned that one offi­cer, with the size of the build­ing and the num­ber of peo­ple, may not quite be ade­quate as far as being able to keep an eye on every­thing,” Humes said.

“He had a cou­ple of stu­dents Fri­day come out from school dur­ing class and thank him for being out there,” Humes added. “He’s also had a cou­ple of the local police and sheriff’s offi­cers stop by and thank him for being out there.”

Cap­tain Steve Stone of the Allen Coun­ty Sheriff’s Depart­ment told TPM that Cow­an noti­fied him he would be sta­tioned out­side of North Side, and that he per­son­al­ly spread the mes­sage to the rest of the depart­ment. Stone declined to offer the department’s stance on the Oath Keep­ers’ pres­ence, not­ing that Cow­an is “not break­ing the law.”

“I can’t speak on behalf of the depart­ment on the department’s view of hav­ing civil­ians like the Oath Keep­ers doing that, unfor­tu­nate­ly,” Stone said, say­ing Sher­iff David Glad­ieux was unavail­able. “I can’t give you my per­son­al opin­ion on whether it’s good or not.”

6a. For peo­ple who think the notion of para­mil­i­tary right-wingers being dep­u­tized as part of a mar­tial law con­tin­gency plan, note what is hap­pen­ing in Ukraine.

Here’s anoth­er piece by Josh Cohen – a for­mer USAID project offi­cer for the for­mer Sovi­et Union who does a decent job of call­ing out the neo-Nazi threat to Ukraine – on the grow­ing ‘law enforce­ment’ role the neo-Nazi mili­tias are assum­ing.

The Kiev city gov­ern­ment recent­ly signed an agree­ment giv­ing C14 – the mili­tia lit­er­al­ly named after the white suprema­cist ’14 words’ slo­gan – the right to estab­lish a “munic­i­pal guard” to patrol the streets there. ” . . . . But con­nec­tions between law enforce­ment agen­cies and extrem­ists give Ukraine’s West­ern allies ample rea­son for con­cern. C14 and Kiev’s city gov­ern­ment recent­ly signed  [76]an agree­ment [77] allow­ing C14 to estab­lish a “munic­i­pal guard” to patrol the streets; three such mili­tia-run guard forces are already reg­is­tered in Kiev, and at least 21 oper­ate in oth­er cities. . . .”

They’re also crack­ing down on polit­i­cal activists such as LGBT and anti-war pro­po­nents.

As the arti­cle also notes, while the far-right may not be win­ning at the bal­lot box, they have pow­er­ful polit­i­cal pro­tec­tion, because of the close rela­tion­ship between Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov and fig­ures like Azov leader Andriy Bilet­sky and Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov vet­er­an who is now a high-rank­ing police offi­cial.

Avakov’s Peo­ples’ Par­ty is the main part­ner in the par­lia­men­tary coali­tion led by Poroshenko’s Bloc. Should Petro Poroshenko decid­ed to chal­lenge Avakov and, as a result, the grow­ing role of these neo-Nazi mili­tias, his gov­ern­ing coali­tion might col­lapse. And that’s all part of why Ukraine’s neo-Nazi prob­lem isn’t just a prob­lem of pop­u­lar sup­port for the neo-Nazi mili­tias, although the lev­el of pop­u­lar sup­port they enjoy is still dis­turbing­ly high.

“Com­men­tary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi prob­lem” by Josh Cohen; Reuters; 03/19/2018 [23]

As Ukraine’s strug­gle against Rus­sia and its prox­ies con­tin­ues, Kiev must also con­tend with a grow­ing prob­lem behind the front lines: far-right vig­i­lantes who are will­ing to use intim­i­da­tion and even vio­lence to advance their agen­das, and who often do so with the tac­it approval of law enforce­ment agen­cies.

A Jan­u­ary 28 demon­stra­tion, in Kiev, by 600 mem­bers of the so-called “Nation­al Mili­tia,” a new­ly-formed ultra­na­tion­al­ist group that vows “to use force to estab­lish order,” illus­trates this threat. While the group’s Kiev launch was peace­ful, Nation­al Mili­tia mem­bers in bal­a­clavas stormed a city coun­cil meet­ing in the cen­tral Ukrain­ian town of Cherkasy the fol­low­ing day, skir­mish­ing with deputies and forc­ing them to pass a new bud­get.

Many of the Nation­al Militia’s mem­bers come from the Azov move­ment, one of the 30-odd pri­vate­ly-fund­ed “vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions” that, in the ear­ly days of the war, helped the reg­u­lar army to defend Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry against Russia’s sep­a­ratist prox­ies. Although Azov uses [78]Nazi-era sym­bol­ism and recruits [79]neo-Nazis into [80]its ranks, a recent arti­cle in For­eign Affairs [81] down­played any risks the group might pose, point­ing out that, like oth­er vol­un­teer mili­tias, Azov has been “reined in” through its inte­gra­tion into Ukraine’s armed forces. While it’s true that pri­vate mili­tias no longer rule the bat­tle­front, it’s the home front that Kiev needs to wor­ry about now.

When Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea four years ago first exposed the decrepit [82] con­di­tion of Ukraine’s armed forces, right-wing mili­tias such as Azov and Right Sec­tor stepped into the breach, fend­ing [83]off the Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists while Ukraine’s reg­u­lar mil­i­tary regrouped. Though, as a result, many Ukraini­ans con­tin­ue to regard the mili­tias with grat­i­tude and admi­ra­tion [84], the more extreme among these groups pro­mote an intol­er­ant and illib­er­al ide­ol­o­gy that will endan­ger Ukraine in the long term. Since the Crimean cri­sis, the mili­tias have been for­mal­ly inte­grat­ed into Ukraine’s armed forces, but some have resist­ed full inte­gra­tion: Azov, for exam­ple, runs [85] its own children’s train­ing camp, and the careers [86] sec­tion instructs recruits who wish to trans­fer to Azov from a reg­u­lar mil­i­tary unit.

Accord­ing to Free­dom House’s Ukraine project direc­tor Matthew Schaaf, “numer­ous orga­nized rad­i­cal right-wing groups exist in Ukraine, and while the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions may have been offi­cial­ly inte­grat­ed into state struc­tures, some of them have since spun off polit­i­cal and non-prof­it struc­tures to imple­ment their vision.”Schaaf not­ed that “an increase in patri­ot­ic dis­course sup­port­ing Ukraine in its con­flict with Rus­sia has coin­cid­ed with an appar­ent increase in both pub­lic hate speech, some­times by pub­lic offi­cials and mag­ni­fied by the media, as well as vio­lence towards vul­ner­a­ble groups such as the LGBT com­mu­ni­ty,” an obser­va­tion that is sup­port­ed by a recent Coun­cil of Europe study [87].

In recent months, Ukraine has expe­ri­enced a wave of unchecked vig­i­lan­tism. Insti­tute Respub­li­ca, a local pro-democ­ra­cy NGO, report­ed [88] that activists are fre­quent­ly harassed by vig­i­lantes when hold­ing legal meet­ings or ral­lies relat­ed to polit­i­cal­ly-con­tro­ver­sial posi­tions, such as the pro­mo­tion of LGBT rights or oppo­si­tion to the war. Azov and oth­er mili­tias have attacked anti-fas­cist [89] demon­stra­tions, city coun­cil  [90]meet­ings, media out­lets [91]art exhi­bi­tions [92]for­eign stu­dents and Roma [93]. Pro­gres­sive activists describe a new cli­mate of fear that they say has been inten­si­fy­ing ever since last year’s near-fatal stab­bing of anti-war activist Stas Ser­hiyenko, which is believed to have been per­pe­trat­ed by an extrem­ist group named C14 (the name refers to a 14-word slo­gan pop­u­lar among white suprema­cists). Bru­tal attacks this month on Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day march­es in sev­er­al Ukrain­ian cities prompt­ed an unusu­al­ly force­ful state­ment from Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al, which warned that “the Ukrain­ian state is rapid­ly los­ing its monop­oly on vio­lence.”

Ukraine is not the only coun­try that must con­tend with a resur­gent far right. But Kiev’s recent efforts to incor­po­rate inde­pen­dent armed groups into its reg­u­lar armed forces, as well as a con­tin­u­ing nation­al sense of indebt­ed­ness to the mili­tias for their defense of the home­land, make address­ing the ultra­na­tion­al­ist threat con­sid­er­ably more com­pli­cat­ed than it is else­where. Accord­ing to Schaaf and the Insti­tute Respub­li­ca, Ukrain­ian extrem­ists are rarely pun­ished for acts of vio­lence. In some cas­es — such as C14’s Jan­u­ary attack on a remem­brance gath­er­ing [94]for two mur­dered jour­nal­ists — police actu­al­ly detain peace­ful demon­stra­tors instead.

To be clear, the Kremlin’s claims that Ukraine is a hor­nets’ nest of fas­cists are false: far-right par­ties per­formed poor­ly in Ukraine’s last par­lia­men­tary elec­tions [95], and Ukraini­ans react­ed [96]with alarm to the Nation­al Militia’s demon­stra­tion in Kiev. But con­nec­tions between law enforce­ment agen­cies and extrem­ists give Ukraine’s West­ern allies ample rea­son for con­cern. C14 and Kiev’s city gov­ern­ment recent­ly signed  [76]an agree­ment [77] allow­ing C14 to estab­lish a “munic­i­pal guard” to patrol the streets; three such mili­tia-run guard forces are already reg­is­tered in Kiev, and at least 21 oper­ate in oth­er cities.

In an ide­al world, Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko would purge the police and the inte­ri­or min­istry of far-right sym­pa­thiz­ers, includ­ing Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov, who has close ties to Azov leader Andriy Bilet­sky, as well as Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov vet­er­an [97]who is now a high-rank­ing police offi­cial. But Poroshenko would risk major reper­cus­sions if he did so; Avakov is his chief polit­i­cal rival [98], and the min­istry he runs con­trols the police, the Nation­al Guard and sev­er­al for­mer mili­tias.

As one Ukrain­ian ana­lyst not­ed [99]in Decem­ber, con­trol of these forces make Avakov extreme­ly pow­er­ful and Poroshenko’s pres­i­den­cy might not be strong enough to with­stand the kind of direct con­fronta­tion with Avakov that an attempt to oust him or to strike at his pow­er base could well pro­duce. Poroshenko has endured fre­quent ver­bal threats, includ­ing calls for rev­o­lu­tion, from ultra­na­tion­al­ist groups, so he may believe that he needs Avakov to keep them in check.

Avakov’s Peo­ples’ Par­ty sta­tus as the main part­ner in Ukraine’s par­lia­men­tary coali­tion increas­es Avakov’s lever­age over Poroshenko’s Bloc. An attempt to fire Avakov could imper­il Poroshenko’s slim leg­isla­tive major­i­ty, and lead to ear­ly par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. Giv­en Poroshenko’s cur­rent unpop­u­lar­i­ty [100], this is a sce­nario he will like­ly try to avoid.

Despite his weak posi­tion, Poroshenko still has some options for reduc­ing the threat from the far right. Though Avakov con­trols the Ukraine’s police and Nation­al Guard, Poroshenko still com­mands Ukraine’s secu­ri­ty and intel­li­gence ser­vices, the SBU, and could instruct the agency to cut its ties with C14 and oth­er extrem­ist groups. Poroshenko should also express pub­lic sup­port for mar­gin­al­ized groups like the Roma and LGBT com­mu­ni­ties, and affirm his com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing their rights.

West­ern diplo­mats and human rights orga­ni­za­tions must urge Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment to uphold the rule of law and to stop allow­ing the far right to act with impuni­ty. Inter­na­tion­al donors can help by fund­ing more ini­tia­tives like the Unit­ed States Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Development’s projects sup­port­ing train­ing [101] for Ukrain­ian lawyers and human rights defend­ers, and improv­ing equi­table access [102] to the judi­cial sys­tem for mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. . . .