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Florida High School Shooting: Assist, Greenwald

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Republic of Florida

COMMENT: In the wake of the Florida high school shooting, an under-reported 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.’ . . . .”

Nikolas Cruz (insert at left)

Several considerations to be weighed in connection with the incident:

  • Whether by coincidence or design, this incident has fundamentally eclipsed discussion of the Trump administration’s brutal budgetary proposals, not unlike the fashion in which Stephen Paddock’s gun play in Las Vegas eclipsed discussion of the GOP tax proposals.
  • In Miscellaneous  Archive Show M55, we noted the Nazi and Unification Church links of one of the prototypical school shooters, Patrick Edward Purdy. Like Cruz, he had  links to Nazi groups and–in the Moonies–a mind control cult with strong intelligence and Japanese fascist links.
  • In FTR #’s 967 and 995, we noted that the Nazi Atomwaffen Division, which also gives paramilitary instruction, makes ISIS-style videos advocating “lone wolf/leaderless resistance” attacks, was linked to a Florida National Guardsman who was planning to attack a nuclear power plant. Given that many of the Nazi/white supremacist groups have fluctuating memberships and often overlap each other as a result, it would not be surprising to find that Atomwaffen Division and ROF have some commonality.
  • In FTR #888, we highlighted Glenn Greenwald’s history of running legal interference for the “lone-wolf/leaderless resistance strategy.” Specifically, Greenwald’s efforts freed groups like the National Alliance, Atomwaffen Division and the ROF from litigation directed at holding the groups to civil liability for advocating mayhem. This is fundamentally different from the excuse proffered by Greenwald and his defenders that he was working against the “criminalization of free speech.” The issue in question has nothing whatsoever to do with criminalizing free speech. Advocates of “lone wolf/leaderless resistance” are perfectly free to advocate violence. Prior to Greenwald’s efforts, they were open to civil suits holding them to account for the suffering of victims of the violence espoused by ROF and their ilk. 
  • Thanks to Greenwald, they are now free to propagandize for violence without fear of incurring a civil judgement against them. But for Citizen Greenwald’s efforts, the surviving victims and families of victims in the Florida shooting might have been able to sue ROF for their suffering. Good job Glenn! Good job Greenwald apologists!

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

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.

2. “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

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.

 

 

Discussion

9 comments for “Florida High School Shooting: Assist, Greenwald”

  1. I wouldn’t be so quick with the ‘neo-nazi’ label and jargon this early into the stagecraft of WHATEVER 3 letter agency may be running a psy ops PR event.
    The Republic of Florida militia may be well be just another asset,a limited modified hangout to use the term.

    Posted by JOHN COKOS | February 17, 2018, 7:21 am
  2. We should revisit the murders committed by “18-year-old Devon Arthurs, one of Atomwaffen’s founding members, was charged in state court in Tampa, Florida, with murdering two of his roommates, Andrew Oneschuk, 18, and Jeremy Himmelman, 22. Both victims were Atomwaffen loyalists.” This was covered in FTR # 995 and the organizaton Atomwaffen was covered in FTR #667.

    https://www.propublica.org/article/california-murder-suspect-atomwaffen-division-extremist-hate-group

    This January 26, 2018 article in ProPublica, by Ali Winston, involved a serious event that surprisingly got minimal press coverage in terms of its implications. The article stated.

    “When law enforcement searched the apartment in Tampa, Florida, where Arthurs and the others lived, they found firearms, a framed photograph of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, rifles, ammunition, and a cooler full of a highly volatile explosive called HMTD. Investigators also discovered radioactive material in the home.” There are a couple of points in this paragraph worth noting. First, Arthurs had photograph of Nazi Timothy McVeigh who conspired to blow up the Oklahoma City Federal Building is a clue to this underground Nazi organization. The second is that they found “highly volatile explosives” and radioactive materials” in his home. Was he planning on making a dirty bomb? It raises as serious question as to how many other nazi’s have similar material and plans.

    “The bomb-making material belonged to a fourth roommate, Atomwaffen leader Brandon Russell, a Florida National Guardsman. Arthurs told authorities that Russell had been planning to blow up a nuclear power plant near Miami. Earlier this month Russell pleaded guilty in federal district court in Tampa to illegal possession of ​​explosives and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.” Note that th​is netw​ork w​as​ plotting to do serious damage by blowing up a nuclear facility​, but got essentially no coverage in the press.

    The article also mentions that “The murders allegedly occurred after Arthurs traded Nazism for radical Islam.”. Keep in mind the fact that the Nazis employed radical islamics in units such as the Hanjar Division of the Waffen SS. Also, was he going to make a dirty bomb and have it blamed on islamists to create a zenaphobic atmosphere and justify the reduction of civil liberties?

    “The organization, which celebrates Hitler and Charles Manson, has been tied to four other murders and an elaborate bomb plot over the past eight months.” Note that Charles Manson had a swastika tattooed on his forehead, hoped to start a race war in the US, and his people killed Sharon Tate who was previously told by Robert Kennedy that he was going to open up the investigation into the Kennedy Assasination prior to his own assassination.

    Posted by Mary Benton | February 17, 2018, 7:30 am
  3. Here’s an illustrative example of how the ‘Alt-Right’ culture of hoaxes and trolling might get used to obscure the role the far-right plays in domestic terror attacks and actually encourage them: So it appears that the story about Nikolas Cruz being a member of the Republic of Florida (ROF) neo-Nazi ‘militia’, including the “three former classmates” who confirmed that he was frequently seen marching with the ROF, was actually a hoax being perpetrated by far-right trolls on the 4Chan message board. Yes, there are actual threads on 4Chan where members talk about how they are in contact with reported and discussions on what an opportunity it is to troll the media. Threads that anyone can potentially read. So it was a a hoax that was seemingly designed to be quickly found and identified as a hoax.

    And a hoax that relied on the leader of the ROP, Jordan Jereb, first telling multiple reporters that, yes, Cruz was part of his group, only to walk it back by saying he was misinformed and confused.

    Additionally, the ABC News report that mentioned the “3 former classmates” who corroborated that Cruz was frequently seen marching with the ROF has been taken down (an archived version is available here).

    And as we’re going to see below, CNN is also investigating messages that may have been created by Cruz on a now-deleted private Youtube account. The messages were posted in a private Instagram group where Cruz talks extensively about his neo-Nazi views. So it’s possible Youtube contains a record of Cruz espousing neo-Nazi ideals but it’s also possible this is another layer of the hoax.

    So almost immediately after the attack we have a very public hoax pulled off by the ‘Alt-Right’ that appears to be designed to discredit the idea that Cruz was a fellow neo-Nazi. And only now, after the media has widely reported that Cruz’s ties to neo-Nazis is a big hoax, do we get the reports about private messages that confirm that, yes, Cruz really was a murderous neo-Nazi. But those private messages could, themselves, be an ongoing example of this hoax. And it’s largely up to Youtube to confirm or refute it. It’s a big example of how a culture of trolling and hoaxes is vital to the neo-Nazi underground growing public presence.

    First, here’s a piece detailing the scheming on 4Chan about hoaxing news organizations about Cruz’s ties to the ROF. The public scheming on 4Chan:

    Politico

    How white nationalists fooled the media about Florida shooter
    ABC, AP and others ran with false information on shooter’s ties to extremist groups.

    By SHAWN MUSGRAVE
    02/16/2018 03:13 PM EST
    Updated 02/16/2018 06:27 PM EST

    Following misrepresentations by a white nationalist leader and coordinated efforts by internet trolls, numerous researchers and media outlets spread a seemingly false claim that the man charged with killing more than a dozen people at a Florida high school belonged to an extremist group.

    Law enforcement agencies say they have no evidence so far to support this claim, and the rumor appears to have been perpetrated by white nationalist trolls themselves.

    On Thursday afternoon, the Anti-Defamation League reported that a white supremacist group claimed ties with Nikolas Cruz, who confessed to the shooting spree that killed at least 17 people, including many high-school students, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

    “A spokesperson for the white supremacist group Republic of Florida (ROF) told the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday, February 15, that Nikolas Cruz [….] was associated with his group,” the ADL reported. The ADL quoted a man named Jordan Jereb, who runs the small group, which is based in Tallahassee.

    “Jereb added that ROF had not ordered or wanted Cruz to do anything like the school shooting,” the ADL wrote in a blog post that was quickly picked up by ABC News and The Associated Press, and later percolated through dozens of other media outlets. Even The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, picked up the claim.

    Some outlets reported they had their own conversations with Jereb or classmates of Cruz who allegedly corroborated the association of Cruz with ROF.

    But a few hours later, after law enforcement agencies said they had no evidence linking Cruz to ROF, Jereb said his identification of Cruz was a “misunderstanding” and that he, too, had been the subject of a “prank.” On online forums and Twitter, trolls and white nationalists gloated at the disinformation they had sowed.

    “All of our evidence seems to point to the ADL getting this wrong,” said Joan Donovan, a researcher who tracks online misinformation campaigns for Data & Society, a think tank in New York City.

    The ADL subsequently revised its report, as did many news outlets.

    At a news conference on Thursday, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters that such a connection was “not confirmed at this time,” but that law enforcement was continuing to investigate. The sheriff’s office in Leon County, which contains Tallahassee, later told the Tallahassee Democrat that it had found “no known ties between the ROF, Jordan Jereb or the Broward shooter.”

    Donovan called this an instance of “source hacking,” a tactic by which fringe groups coordinate to feed false information to authoritative sources such as ADL researchers. These experts, in turn, disseminate the information to reporters, and it reaches thousands of readers before it can be debunked.

    “It’s a very effective way of getting duped,” Donovan said.

    The ADL traced its original tip to posts on 4chan, where researchers found “self-described ROF members” claiming that Cruz was a brother-in-arms. But many of those posts seem to have been written specifically to deceive reporters and researchers.

    On Wednesday, an anonymous 4chan user posted about receiving a message on Instagram from an ABC News reporter after making a joke suggesting he knew Cruz.

    “Prime trolling opportunity,” another user replied.

    “You have to take advantage of this,” a third chimed in.

    He asked for proof of the reporter’s identity, according to posted screenshots from their correspondence. The reporter provided an official email address and sent a photo of an ABC identification badge.

    Some on the 4chan thread joked about sending back obscene photos, but others gave concrete tips for tricking the reporter: “Keep talking to her so she gains your trust”; “Keep this going be realistic … say you have known him for years you met him on a Liberal Facebook page years ago and you have kept in touch”; “Say you are scared to tell her in case you get blamed, it will get her excited you know something big.”

    This particular 4chan user seems to have sent the reporter a racist cartoon and was quickly blocked. Many on the forum ripped into him for missing a “a golden opportunity.”

    “You could have told her the shooter took ‘an unusual interest in islam lately,’” one user wrote.

    But the trolls now had a shared objective: disseminate disinformation about Cruz. It’s unclear when exactly they settled on a narrative that included Jereb and ROF.

    In posts to a neo-Nazi Web forum called The Right Stuff, a user called “Jordan Fash” said the idea originated in a group chat on Discord, an app for gamers that is popular with white nationalists and the alt-right. (“Fash” is common internet shorthand for “fascist.”)

    According to Jordan Fash, an ABC News reporter reached out to one of the group’s members on Instagram. The group passed around her number and told her Cruz was associated with Jereb. Group members communicated with at least two ABC News reporters in a coordinated effort.

    Their correspondence was not posted online in its entirety. In some of the posted exchanges, the reporters asked trolls to substantiate their stories.

    “Not to suggest that you aren’t being truthful, but it would be very helpful if you could let me know how you know that,” one of the ABC News reporters wrote to one person via Instagram, according to screenshots posted to 4chan on Thursday.

    “It was common knowledge he did rallies with ROF, I frequently saw him conversing with Jordan Jereb in person,” the person, whom the reporter addressed as “Ethan,” responded. Jordan Fash posted some of the same screenshots to The Right Stuff.

    “I was there. These are screen caps taken from when this shirt started. 99% of it was done on the phone,” Jordan Fash wrote.

    In posts to Gab, a social-networking site used by many in the alt-right, early Friday morning, one user said the Discord group “spent around 18 hours orchestrating, contacting ABC, being interviewed by reporters, etc.”

    Members swapped links to articles that identified Cruz as a member of ROF, celebrating each story and keeping a tally of media interview attempts.

    “ABC messaged me. Asked to use my name in this article,” wrote one user.

    “This is spreading like wildfire,” wrote another user, “Renegade,” after someone in the chat shared a link to the ADL blog post.

    “All it takes is a single article,” the first user wrote back. “And everyone else picks up the story.”

    ABC News reported that its reporters spoke with three “former schoolmates” of Cruz, but did not indicate whether these communications were over social media. A spokesperson for ABC News declined to comment on how its reporters vetted the identities of these purported acquaintances.

    For its part, an AP spokesperson said, “AP spoke with the leader of Republic of Florida, who said Cruz was a member of his group and had participated in exercises in Tallahassee. In the course of continued reporting, police and other groups were not able to confirm Cruz’s association with the white nationalist militia, and that is what is reflected on the wire.”

    Others in the Discord chat said they were contacted by a reporter from The New York Times.

    At some point, the trolls started a “confessional” 4chan thread dedicated to convincing readers that Cruz had been a member of ROF. The ADL confirmed this 4chan post was the one that led to their blog post.

    “After seeing that 4chan post, we called Jereb and he told us what he told us,” said an ADL spokesperson.

    “I’ve kept quiet for long enough,” reads the first anonymous message on the 4chan thread. “I’ve decided that its time the world know the truth about ROF.”

    “Nikolas Cruz was a revolutionary member of the Republic of Florida, who preached twisted and dark things like terrorism and attacking innocent people.”

    The anonymous user claimed to be a former ROF member and posted a photo titled “Me and nick.jpg,” which depicted two men posing with the ROF flag.

    Another posted a blurry photo of ROF members that was seemingly taken from a blog dedicated to countering extremism in Tallahassee.

    On the Discord chat, a user called Curbstomp suggested sharing generic photos of ROF and claiming they depicted Cruz.

    “I have an idea. … We can just take a pic of masked ROF members and claim one of them is Cruz,” Curbstomp wrote.

    Members of the Discord chat swapped potential photos.

    Others joined the chorus on 4chan, interspersing jokes with purported confirmations.

    “I can confirm this guy was trying to enact a race war and got kicked out of ROF,” wrote another poster.

    It’s unclear how directly involved Jereb was in the deception effort. Jordan Fash wrote on The Right Stuff that Jereb sometimes “hangs around” in their Discord chats.

    The posted screenshots show a Discord user called “The Floridian” who seems to claim membership in ROF and who recounts calls with the ADL and reporters.

    “Its funny the ADL guy said ‘I just want to warn you your group is going to be under scrutiny,'” The Floridian wrote.

    “Also ABC called back they are having trouble verifying Nikolas envolvement,” The Floridian also wrote. ABC News reported speaking with Jereb directly, as did the AP, The Daily Beast, and other outlets.

    “ROF now has a higher kill ratio than Atomwaffen,” The Floridian laughed in recounting the calls, referring to a small neo-Nazi group in Florida that is reportedly linked to several murders.

    The Floridian also claimed to have been contacted by “the feds.”

    “I told the feds I have nothing to do with Cruz,” The Floridian wrote. “I told them it was a prank and that I was also confused.”

    Jereb later seemed to deflect responsibility, calling it all a “legit misunderstanding” because ROF has multiple people named Nicholas.

    “You realize I wasn’t in on the prank? You realize I thought the information I was being given was legit?” he wrote on Gab, suggesting that his fellow white nationalists owed him an apology.

    Jereb did not respond to a phone message or an email.

    As the story spread even further, one Discord user posted a tweet from the AP: “BREAKING: Leader of white nationalist group has confirmed suspect in Florida school shooting was member of his organization.” It had been retweeted more than 35,000 times at that point.

    The group crowed at such a quantifiable achievement.

    “Those 35 thousand people aren’t going to change their minds,” wrote one member, mocking those who would read the press coverage he and his friends concocted.

    “They’re lemmings. … They will go to the grave convinced that the shooter was a white nationalist.”

    By Thursday evening, 4chan users were celebrating their efforts, posting screenshots of their communications with reporters and faux posts pretending to be ROF members.

    “[T]hey are so hungry for a story that they’ll just believe anything as long as its corroborated by a few people and seems legit,” wrote the creator of one 4chan thread.

    Donovan, the disinformation researcher, said reporters need to be more vigilant against these kinds of campaigns, which are going to get only more common and more sophisticated.

    “We have to start thinking of these white nationalist groups as what some of them describe themselves — ‘media militias,’” said Donovan. “They think of media as adversarial territory.”

    ———-

    “How white nationalists fooled the media about Florida shooter” by SHAWN MUSGRAVE; Politico; 02/16/2018

    “Donovan called this an instance of “source hacking,” a tactic by which fringe groups coordinate to feed false information to authoritative sources such as ADL researchers. These experts, in turn, disseminate the information to reporters, and it reaches thousands of readers before it can be debunked.”

    “Source hacking”. That’s the term for what the ‘Alt-Right’ neo-Nazis were employing. And note how the only way for “source hacking” to actually work is for it to be identified as a hoax. And these figures certainly made sure it was identified as a hoax. Rapidly identified as a hoax. The first “tips” that Cruz was associated with the ROF originated on 4Chan, which is also where much of the public discussion about it being a hoax took place:


    The ADL traced its original tip to posts on 4chan, where researchers found “self-described ROF members” claiming that Cruz was a brother-in-arms. But many of those posts seem to have been written specifically to deceive reporters and researchers.

    On Wednesday, an anonymous 4chan user posted about receiving a message on Instagram from an ABC News reporter after making a joke suggesting he knew Cruz.

    “Prime trolling opportunity,” another user replied.

    “You have to take advantage of this,” a third chimed in.

    “On Wednesday, an anonymous 4chan user posted about receiving a message on Instagram from an ABC News reporter after making a joke suggesting he knew Cruz.”

    So a 4Chan user posts on 4Chan about receiving a message on Instagram from an ABC News reporter about ‘making a joke suggesting he knew Cruz.’ Note that, in doing so, this anonymous 4Chan use is appearing to publicly refute the idea that he knew Cruz and keep in mind that, in the article we’re going to look at below, it was an Instagram private message board where Cruz discusses his neo-Nazi views. So you really have to wonder if this 4Chan user is one of the members of that private Instagram group.

    And after posting about getting contacted by the reporter, the 4Chan people talk about how to hoax journalists. A hoax that, again, is clearly designed to be rapidly identified as a hoax. Although the initial hoax suggestions appear to be to suggest that Cruz was a liberal or converted to Islam:


    He asked for proof of the reporter’s identity, according to posted screenshots from their correspondence. The reporter provided an official email address and sent a photo of an ABC identification badge.

    Some on the 4chan thread joked about sending back obscene photos, but others gave concrete tips for tricking the reporter: “Keep talking to her so she gains your trust”; “Keep this going be realistic … say you have known him for years you met him on a Liberal Facebook page years ago and you have kept in touch”; “Say you are scared to tell her in case you get blamed, it will get her excited you know something big.”

    This particular 4chan user seems to have sent the reporter a racist cartoon and was quickly blocked. Many on the forum ripped into him for missing a “a golden opportunity.”

    “You could have told her the shooter took ‘an unusual interest in islam lately,’” one user wrote.

    But the trolls now had a shared objective: disseminate disinformation about Cruz. It’s unclear when exactly they settled on a narrative that included Jereb and ROF.

    But the discussion of this hoaxing campaign were limited to 4Chan. There were also discussions on the neo-Nazi online forum The Right Stuff, where a user, “Jordan Fash,” claims the whole idea of creating this hoax originated on a group chat on an app called Discord that’s popular with neo-Nazis. And this same user claims an ABC News reporter reached out to a member of that chat group over Instagram (the same story that the 4Chan user claimed above). And it was this same user who then claims they told the reporter that Cruz was frequently seen with the ROF:

    In posts to a neo-Nazi Web forum called The Right Stuff, a user called “Jordan Fash” said the idea originated in a group chat on Discord, an app for gamers that is popular with white nationalists and the alt-right. (“Fash” is common internet shorthand for “fascist.”)

    According to Jordan Fash, an ABC News reporter reached out to one of the group’s members on Instagram. The group passed around her number and told her Cruz was associated with Jereb. Group members communicated with at least two ABC News reporters in a coordinated effort.

    Their correspondence was not posted online in its entirety. In some of the posted exchanges, the reporters asked trolls to substantiate their stories.

    “Not to suggest that you aren’t being truthful, but it would be very helpful if you could let me know how you know that,” one of the ABC News reporters wrote to one person via Instagram, according to screenshots posted to 4chan on Thursday.

    “It was common knowledge he did rallies with ROF, I frequently saw him conversing with Jordan Jereb in person,” the person, whom the reporter addressed as “Ethan,” responded. Jordan Fash posted some of the same screenshots to The Right Stuff.

    “I was there. These are screen caps taken from when this shirt started. 99% of it was done on the phone,” Jordan Fash wrote.

    And there were similar claims on Gab, a social-networking site popular with neo-Nazis:


    In posts to Gab, a social-networking site used by many in the alt-right, early Friday morning, one user said the Discord group “spent around 18 hours orchestrating, contacting ABC, being interviewed by reporters, etc.”

    Members swapped links to articles that identified Cruz as a member of ROF, celebrating each story and keeping a tally of media interview attempts.

    “ABC messaged me. Asked to use my name in this article,” wrote one user.

    “This is spreading like wildfire,” wrote another user, “Renegade,” after someone in the chat shared a link to the ADL blog post.

    “All it takes is a single article,” the first user wrote back. “And everyone else picks up the story.”

    ABC News reported that its reporters spoke with three “former schoolmates” of Cruz, but did not indicate whether these communications were over social media. A spokesperson for ABC News declined to comment on how its reporters vetted the identities of these purported acquaintances.

    So that all appears to be the core elements of the publicly available discussions by the ‘Alt-Right’ neo-Nazis that they were carrying out this hoax. And, again, as we’ll see below, it’s a ‘Cruz is a neo-Nazi’ hoax that appears to be actually backed up by Cruz’s own posts on a private Youtube account. But those messages from Cruz were posted on a private Instagram message board.

    And let’s not forget the role ROF leader Jordan Jereb played in this, first claiming that, yes, Cruz was a member, and then backtracking and acting like he was a victim of this same hoax. And not how “Jordan Fash” actually claims Jereb “hangs around” on their Discord chats…the same place this hoax apparently originated. And “Jordan Fash” even posted screenshot on “The Right Stuff” of a Discord member called “The Floridian” discussing his interactions with an ABC News reporter:


    It’s unclear how directly involved Jereb was in the deception effort. Jordan Fash wrote on The Right Stuff that Jereb sometimes “hangs around” in their Discord chats.

    The posted screenshots show a Discord user called “The Floridian” who seems to claim membership in ROF and who recounts calls with the ADL and reporters.

    “Its funny the ADL guy said ‘I just want to warn you your group is going to be under scrutiny,'” The Floridian wrote.

    “Also ABC called back they are having trouble verifying Nikolas envolvement,” The Floridian also wrote. ABC News reported speaking with Jereb directly, as did the AP, The Daily Beast, and other outlets.

    “ROF now has a higher kill ratio than Atomwaffen,” The Floridian laughed in recounting the calls, referring to a small neo-Nazi group in Florida that is reportedly linked to several murders.

    The Floridian also claimed to have been contacted by “the feds.”

    “I told the feds I have nothing to do with Cruz,” The Floridian wrote. “I told them it was a prank and that I was also confused.”

    Jereb later seemed to deflect responsibility, calling it all a “legit misunderstanding” because ROF has multiple people named Nicholas.

    “You realize I wasn’t in on the prank? You realize I thought the information I was being given was legit?” he wrote on Gab, suggesting that his fellow white nationalists owed him an apology.

    “”I told the feds I have nothing to do with Cruz,” The Floridian wrote. “I told them it was a prank and that I was also confused.””

    So it would appear that “The Floridian” is indeed Jereb posting to the Discord group chat where all this originated. Unless, of course, the screenshots of “The Floridian” that “Jordan Fash” posted to “The Right Stuff” neo-Nazi forum were themselves hoaxes. But it sure doesn’t seem outlandish that “The Floridian” is indeed Jereb.

    So it would appear that Jordan Jereb, leader of the ROF, was coordinating with the rest of the neo-Nazis were were cooking up this hoax over a Discord group chat. And the evidence of this is the evidence posted by “Jordan Fash” on “The Right Stuff,” online forum. So the whole world can see it, which is, again, part of how this entire hoax operation has a problem with getting identified as a hoax operation.

    So there is clearly a big gas lighting element to all this. But as we’re going to see, it’s a gas lighting element that possibly obscures the fact that Cruz does actually appear to hold neo-Nazi views. Views he may have expressed on a private Youtube account that were posted to a private Instagram group that CNN just reported on. Recall that the 4Chan user who initially posted about getting contacted by an ABC News reported was contacted over Instagram after ‘joking’ over Instagram about knowing Cruz. And “Jordan Fash” also wrote that one of the members of the Discord group chat was also contacted by an ABC News reporter over Instagram.

    So were the people who were behind the public ‘hoax’ also members of this private Instagram group where Cruz expresses his neo-Nazi views? And are these posts on the Instagram account of these Youtube chats real or fake? Keep in mind that they reportedly go back to August 2017 and the group largely involves six people. So if it’s a hoax, it’s potentially a more elaborate one than the above ‘hoax’ because months of chats would would have be rapidly generated to show to journalists:

    CNN

    Exclusive: Group chat messages show school shooter obsessed with race, violence and guns

    By Paul P. Murphy, CNN
    Updated 0304 GMT (1104 HKT) February 17, 2018

    (CNN)In a private Instagram group chat, confessed school shooter Nikolas Cruz repeatedly espoused racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic views and displayed an obsession with violence and guns.

    Wednesday, 19-year-old Cruz opened fire at the school that expelled him, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Authorities say he killed 17 with his legally purchased AR-15.

    CNN, investigating comments the shooter may have left on a now-deleted YouTube channel, was added to the private Instagram group by one of the active members in it. The responding group members, who appear to be younger than 18, have refused to confirm their identities to CNN on or off the record.

    When asked for comment or whether they knew about the private chat group, the FBI directed CNN to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

    Most of the conversation in the group since Cruz joined around August 2017 is between six people — including Cruz.

    “I hate jews, ni**ers, immigrants”

    Racism was a constant theme in the chat group, which was called “Murica (American flag emoji) (eagle emoji) great” — a name it was given by Cruz.

    The hatred he and others in the group espoused met little resistance from its active members. In one part of the group chat, Cruz wrote that he hated, “jews, ni**ers, immigrants.”

    He talked about killing Mexicans, keeping black people in chains and cutting their necks. The statements were not made in jest.

    There are hundreds of racist messages, racist memes and racist Instagram videos posted in the group.

    One member even joked about Cruz’s particular venomousness, saying that although he hated black people, too, he didn’t “to a point I wanna kill the (sic) like nick.”

    Cruz said he hated black people simply because they were black; Cruz hated Jews because he believed they wanted to destroy the world.

    After one member expressed hatred for gay people, Cruz agreed, saying, “Shoot them in the back of head.”

    White women drew Cruz’s hatred as well, specifically those in interracial relationships, whom he referred to repeatedly as traitors.

    There are no indications in the group chat that any member, including Cruz, is or was part of a white nationalist or white supremacist group.

    Cruz used paycheck for body armor

    Cruz purchased an AR-15 rifle in Florida approximately a year ago, legally. A law enforcement source told CNN’s Evan Perez that Cruz purchased at least five guns in the past year.

    In a public post on his Instagram page, Cruz showed what he called an “arsenal” on a bed — seven guns and body armor. Another post on the page is a view down the barrel of a gun with a holographic sight out a window onto the street.

    His AR-15 and other guns were a frequent topic of conversation in the group chat.

    They even critiqued Cruz’s rifle grip. He posted a short video of himself shooting a rifle outside a window at night. The video cuts out shortly after the round is fired.

    They discussed which guns they liked better: M16s or AKs.

    At one point, one member told Cruz, “Nick get this for your AR.” He directed Nick to a website offering an after-market accessory that would turn his AR-15 into a fully automatic weapon.

    A law enforcement source speaking to CNN’s Evan Perez said that the gun used in the school shooting was not automatic, and there’s no indication he bought the accessory, or a similar type of accessory.

    When it was payday, Cruz let the group know where the money was going to be spent.

    “Guys I got paid 330. I am buying body armor,” he wrote.

    Cruz did purchase the body armor, according to receipts he posted in the chat — with a $30 discount and free shipping.

    Then he asked the group whether it was legal to wear body armor to school.

    “School shooters,” he replied, when someone asked why he wanted to know.

    “I think I am going to kill people”

    The bio on one of his Instagram accounts read, “annihilator.”

    At one point in the chat, he wrote, “I think I am going to kill people.” After a member told him not to say things like that, he said he was just playing.

    During one of the anti-Semitic rants in the chat, Cruz spoke of his birth mother, saying, “My real mom was a Jew. I am glad I never met her.”

    Roger and Lynda Cruz adopted Cruz when he was a child. Roger died in 2004, and Lynda died last fall after an illness.

    In his first message to the chat group, Cruz bragged about writing a letter to President Donald Trump — and receiving a response. CNN reached out to the White House for comment about any correspondence to and from Cruz but has not heard back.

    In two instances, Cruz also discussed killing small animals.

    He posted a photo on his Instagram account of a disemboweled frog, saying he had killed it because one had killed his dog. In the Instagram chat, he describes killing a number of birds with his gun.

    Some members of the chat were worried he might have killed endangered animals.

    “He seemed nice but also had some mental issues,” one member told CNN. “All (I know) is that he likes guns and really hates liberals.”

    ———-

    “Exclusive: Group chat messages show school shooter obsessed with race, violence and guns” by Paul P. Murphy, CNN; 02/17/2018

    “CNN, investigating comments the shooter may have left on a now-deleted YouTube channel, was added to the private Instagram group by one of the active members in it. The responding group members, who appear to be younger than 18, have refused to confirm their identities to CNN on or off the record.”

    So it’s an ongoing CNN investigation and, at this point, the FBI is neither confirming nor denying that it knows about this private chat group:


    When asked for comment or whether they knew about the private chat group, the FBI directed CNN to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

    And whatever CNN is looking at is apparently a conversation, going back to August 2017, of six people including Cruz. And it sounds like Cruz was very open about his neo-Nazi views:


    Most of the conversation in the group since Cruz joined around August 2017 is between six people — including Cruz.

    “I hate jews, ni**ers, immigrants”

    Racism was a constant theme in the chat group, which was called “Murica (American flag emoji) (eagle emoji) great” — a name it was given by Cruz.

    The hatred he and others in the group espoused met little resistance from its active members. In one part of the group chat, Cruz wrote that he hated, “jews, ni**ers, immigrants.”

    He talked about killing Mexicans, keeping black people in chains and cutting their necks. The statements were not made in jest.

    There are hundreds of racist messages, racist memes and racist Instagram videos posted in the group.

    One member even joked about Cruz’s particular venomousness, saying that although he hated black people, too, he didn’t “to a point I wanna kill the (sic) like nick.”

    Cruz said he hated black people simply because they were black; Cruz hated Jews because he believed they wanted to destroy the world.

    After one member expressed hatred for gay people, Cruz agreed, saying, “Shoot them in the back of head.”

    White women drew Cruz’s hatred as well, specifically those in interracial relationships, whom he referred to repeatedly as traitors.

    “There are no indications in the group chat that any member, including Cruz, is or was part of a white nationalist or white supremacist group.”

    LOL, there are no indications that Cruz, or any other member of the chat, was part of a white nationalist or white supremacist group. Except, of course, if that chat room really existed, it does more or less comprise a “white nationalist or white supremacist group.” Just not one that was formally labeled as such.

    And note how Cruz’s acquisition of guns and body armor was apparently a frequent topic of the Youtube group. So this seems like pretty critical information that can verify whether or not it’s a real once the time frame for Cruz obtaining these items is established. And he even posted receipts of the body armor purchase to the group:


    Cruz used paycheck for body armor

    Cruz purchased an AR-15 rifle in Florida approximately a year ago, legally. A law enforcement source told CNN’s Evan Perez that Cruz purchased at least five guns in the past year.

    In a public post on his Instagram page, Cruz showed what he called an “arsenal” on a bed — seven guns and body armor. Another post on the page is a view down the barrel of a gun with a holographic sight out a window onto the street.

    His AR-15 and other guns were a frequent topic of conversation in the group chat.

    They even critiqued Cruz’s rifle grip. He posted a short video of himself shooting a rifle outside a window at night. The video cuts out shortly after the round is fired.

    They discussed which guns they liked better: M16s or AKs.

    At one point, one member told Cruz, “Nick get this for your AR.” He directed Nick to a website offering an after-market accessory that would turn his AR-15 into a fully automatic weapon.

    A law enforcement source speaking to CNN’s Evan Perez said that the gun used in the school shooting was not automatic, and there’s no indication he bought the accessory, or a similar type of accessory.

    When it was payday, Cruz let the group know where the money was going to be spent.

    “Guys I got paid 330. I am buying body armor,” he wrote.

    Cruz did purchase the body armor, according to receipts he posted in the chat — with a $30 discount and free shipping.

    Then he asked the group whether it was legal to wear body armor to school.

    “School shooters,” he replied, when someone asked why he wanted to know.

    “Cruz did purchase the body armor, according to receipts he posted in the chat — with a $30 discount and free shipping.”

    And then there’s Cruz’s alleged posts about how he was glad he never met his biological mother because she was Jewish:


    During one of the anti-Semitic rants in the chat, Cruz spoke of his birth mother, saying, “My real mom was a Jew. I am glad I never met her.”

    So is it true that Cruz knew his biological mother was Jewish? That seems like the kind of thing that can help establish the veracity of this.

    But note the most bizarre part of all this: the first message Cruz allegedly posted to the group was that he wrote to President Trump and Trump responded:


    In his first message to the chat group, Cruz bragged about writing a letter to President Donald Trump — and receiving a response. CNN reached out to the White House for comment about any correspondence to and from Cruz but has not heard back.

    So that adds a whole new potential political dimension to this. If that’s true, there’s going to be massive resistance from the right-wing about acknowledging any of this true. But it also would be exactly the kind of fun-fact that trolling hoaxers would to peddle to the media, only to be later identified as a hoax.

    So let’s hope CNN manages to established whether or not this alleged Youtube chat log is true sooner or later. Between the receipt for the body armor and other pieces of information that would hard to strangers to hoax it seems like there should be plenty of evidence one way or another. Although it’s also possible that the chat logs are real, but with false information added to discredit it.

    It’s all a big reminder of the reality that while the far-right’s embrace of trolling may be designed to confuse audiences about what it real and what is not, one of the common themes of that fog of confusion is obscuring from the public the fact that when neo-Nazis wage hoax campaigns that is actually example of how Nazis ‘drop the mask’. Because, for Nazis, the Big Lie is both the means and the ends.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 17, 2018, 3:06 pm
  4. @Pterrafractyl & “JOHN COKOS”–

    Digesting this suggests that what is being done is to claim Cruz’s links were a hoax, in order to obscure his real Nazi views.

    “Lone-wolf” means just that. “Leaderless resistance” means just that.

    ANY group affiliation must be downplayed, if not outright denied.

    Attempts at walking back Jareb’s comments shouldn’t be given too much credibility, in my opinion.

    Also: note that law enforcement has “found” no traces of Nazi/White Supremacist manifestation in Cruz.

    What is not mentioned is whether they even looked for any, or are actually covering this up.

    Both FBI and Florida authorities let Cruz slide after earlier alarms were sounded.

    As far as “Nazi” and federal agencies being mutually exclusive as you, “JOHN COKOS” have claimed, that dog won’t hunt, as they say.

    Various Nazi, Klan, White Supremacist groups are used as foot soldiers in various operations, as discussed in, among other programs, FTR #971. http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-971-nazis-in-new-orleans/

    This is not an either/or dynamic. Far right groups are quick to try to blame everything on “da gummint,” INSTEAD of Nazis, etc.

    They shy away from the well documented fact that the two are connected, though by no means coterminous.

    Best,

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 17, 2018, 4:39 pm
  5. @Dave: I should add a correction about the CNN report on the private Instagram chat group. I had misread the report as indicating that it was a private Youtube account where the chats took place and those chats got added to a separate private Instagram chat group. Upon reread that article it looks like all of these conversations actually took place on that private Instagram account, which CNN came across when investigating a now-deleted Youtube account that Cruz posted on. And that makes it far less likely that these private conversations where Cruz was expressing all these neo-Nazi views were somehow doctored and part of hoax. There’s no way these individuals could insert fake messages into a Instagram’s systems.

    Also, if you read the report it includes photos of Cruz posing in body armor that CNN appears to have obtained from that chat group. So that CNN report looks very likely to be real.

    And that all makes the fact that Cruz claimed to write to President Trump and get a response all the more plausible. Here’s the part of that CNN article I misinterpreted, along with part about Cruz’s first post on the group being about hearing back from Trump:

    CNN

    Exclusive: Group chat messages show school shooter obsessed with race, violence and guns

    By Paul P. Murphy, CNN
    Updated 5:51 PM ET, Sat February 17, 2018

    (CNN)In a private Instagram group chat, confessed school shooter Nikolas Cruz repeatedly espoused racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic views and displayed an obsession with violence and guns.

    Wednesday, 19-year-old Cruz opened fire at the school that expelled him, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Authorities say he killed 17 with his legally purchased AR-15.

    CNN, investigating comments the shooter may have left on a now-deleted YouTube channel, was added to the private Instagram group by one of the active members in it. The responding group members, who appear to be younger than 18, have refused to confirm their identities to CNN on or off the record.

    In his first message to the chat group, Cruz bragged about writing a letter to President Donald Trump — and receiving a response. CNN reached out to the White House for comment about any correspondence to and from Cruz but has not heard back.

    ———-

    “Exclusive: Group chat messages show school shooter obsessed with race, violence and guns” by Paul P. Murphy; CNN; 02/17/2018

    “CNN, investigating comments the shooter may have left on a now-deleted YouTube channel, was added to the private Instagram group by one of the active members in it. The responding group members, who appear to be younger than 18, have refused to confirm their identities to CNN on or off the record.”

    Again, the private chats the CNN is reporting on are the actual chats entered into Instagram’s system, which is not something that could be spoofed after the fact.

    It’s also worth recalling that Jordan Jereb reportedly posted on Gap, the Alt-Right’s social messaging app of choice, about using the Republic of Florida to create “lone wolf activists”. And “creating lone wolf activists” clearly implies disassociating his group from those “lone wolves”. And Jereb appears have been involved with the “Discord” chat group where the ‘hoax’ campaign was concocted. So that behavior would also be consistent with “creating lone wolves”.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 17, 2018, 6:43 pm
  6. Mr. Emory,

    Even if Jareb’s comments were indeed false (and I agree that attempts at walking back should not necessarily be given credibility), separate evidence from social media postings has revealed obvious white supremacist ideology.

    From the New York Post by Sara Dorn From February 17, 2018 | 2:13pm:

    ‘In the months before confessed mass murderer Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people in a Florida high school, he ranted about minorities, alluded to his murderous intentions, and boasted about writing to President Trump in private social media messages, according to a report.

    The deranged 19-year-old told members of a a [B]six-member Instagram group called “Murica great” that he wanted to kill Mexicans, keep black people in chains and cut their necks,[/b] according to the vile messages obtained by CNN.

    Cruz said he [b]hated black people simply because they were black, and Jews because he said they wanted to destroy the world.[/b]

    And he [b]hated homosexuals and white women who dated minorities.[/b]

    [b]“Shoot them in the back of head,” he said about gay people.[/b]

    [b]He branded white women in interracial relationships “traitors,” [/b]according to the outlet.

    Some racist members said Cruz’s hatred was even too much for them.

    One member said he also hated black people, but not [b]“to a point I wanna kill the [sic] like nick.”[/b]

    Cruz even bragged to the group, which he reportedly joined in August 2017, that he wrote to President Trump — and claimed he received a response.

    And he also showed off the guns he bought in Florida over the past year with the group.

    “I think I am going to kill people,” Cruz, told members, but claimed he was kidding when another group member called him out.

    A member of the group chat told the outlet that Cruz, “seemed nice but also had some mental issues.”

    “All [I know] is that he likes guns and really hates liberals,” the person said.’

    Respect to your lifetime of important work.

    – Richard

    Posted by Richard Schroeder | February 18, 2018, 2:01 pm
  7. The original CNN exclusive goes into more detail here:

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/16/us/exclusive-school-shooter-instagram-group/index.html

    CNN apparently recovered “hundreds” of messages reflecting obviously white supremacist ideology.

    Again, much respect to your lifetime of important work.

    – Richard

    Posted by Richard Schroeder | February 18, 2018, 2:07 pm
  8. Here’s a look at how the ‘Alt-Right’ disinformation campaign started on 4Chan – where 4Chan users claimed to be a classmates of Nikolas Cruz and claimed that he was seen marching with the Republic of Florida neo-Nazi militia, preemptively discrediting the subsequent revelations that Cruz did in fact appear to have a neo-Nazi worldview – isn’t limited to 4Chan. The much larger far-right media landscape appears to be collectively pushing a whole new disinformation campaign designed to smear the surviving high school students who have emerged as national figures in the gun law reform debate:

    A number of right-wing pundits, and even some Republican party figures (including Donald Trump Jr.), have latched onto the ‘crisis actor’ meme. That’s the idea that was heavily promoted by figures like Alex Jones following the Sandy Hook attack that asserted that there was no mass killing and it was all an elaborate hoax perpetrated by the government to whip up public support for gun control legislation. In other words, it’s the idea that the victims of these mass shootings aren’t actually victims but instead malicious professional deceivers working for the government.

    It the same meme that was pushed after the mass shooting in Vegas and now it’s being pushed after the attack in Florida. Although there isn’t one variant of the meme. Some are suggesting there was no attack at all and it was all a hoax. Others are suggesting that the students who responded to the shooting by publicly and forcefully shaming the National Rifle Associate, President Trump, and other politicians who won’t support strong gun control laws are either professional actors and/or being coached by Democrats or George Soros.

    And these memes are already gone wildly viral. So viral that one of them, a video suggesting student David Hogg is an actor, was #1 on YouTube’s trending videos:

    BuzzFeed

    Nope, The Florida School Shooting Survivors Demanding Gun Control Are Not Crisis Actors

    Right-wing websites are fueling a now-viral conspiracy theory that Florida high school students demanding gun control are actors pushing a liberal agenda. The theory was even promoted by the aide of a Florida lawmaker.

    Brianna Sacks
    BuzzFeed News Reporter

    Originally posted on February 21, 2018, at 1:15 a.m.
    Updated on February 21, 2018, at 11:39 a.m.

    In the days since a gunman opened fire on their classmates on Valentine’s Day, killing 17 people just as school was about to end for the day, a group of outraged teenage survivors have been vocally demanding stricter gun laws. In response to their activism, right-wing outlets have contrived and pushed false reports that the students are actors capitalizing on the tragedy to push a liberal agenda on gun control.

    These fake claims have now gone viral. Hundreds of videos, articles, and posts claiming to unmask these fake students have swept across social media, gaining thousands of views, shares, and retweets. The content picks apart the students’ performances in media interviews as they talked about the friends they lost in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their anger that the tragedy happened at another US school.

    As of Tuesday night, 108,135 people were talking about “crisis actors” on Facebook. One video had been watched more than 41,000 times and shared by about 2,300 users. Before it was removed, another Facebook post calling Stoneman Douglas senior David Hogg an actor was shared more than 110,000 times. Yet another clip posted on Twitter got more than 6,000 retweets.

    TheGatewayPundit.com, a right-wing news website, also posted a story that noted Hogg’s father is a retired FBI agent — a fact the site dubbed a “red flag” — and concluded, without evidence, that the teen had been coached to push anti-Trump talking points.

    [see youtube video asserting that David Hogg is a crisis actor]

    On YouTube, there have been 399 videos mentioning “crisis actors Florida” uploaded in the past week, with thousands of people watching clips with titles like “Florida School Shooting Fake Shooting And Hoax, Crisis Actress smiling,” which had 3,800 views by the end of the day Tuesday. One video, suggesting that Hogg was an actor, was the No. 1 trending video on YouTube as of Wednesday, but later appeared to have been removed from YouTube’s trending section. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, YouTube said that it’s system “misclassified” the video because it “contained footage from an authoritative news source.

    “The video should never have appeared in Trending,” YouTube said, adding that they had removed the video from Trending and YouTube for “violating our policies.”

    “We are working to improve our systems moving forward,” the statement said.

    However, YouTube did not address questions on why its search results for “David Hogg” list several videos calling Hogg an actor and accusing him of “babbling” rehearsed lines on television interviews.

    Prominent Trump supporters on Twitter, including former Milwaukee sheriff David Clarke and conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, have also been peddling the conspiracy theory that the students’ push for gun reform is an orchestrated political effort by the left-wing.

    Clarke tweeted, without evidence, that liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros was backing the teens’ activism and demand for gun reform.

    The well ORGANIZED effort by Florida school students demanding gun control has GEORGE SOROS’ FINGERPRINTS all over it. It is similar to how he hijacked and exploited black people’s emotion regarding police use of force incidents into the COP HATING Black Lives Matter movement. pic.twitter.com/XDZ3bcwF6F— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) February 20, 2018

    D’Souza called one of the survivors of the shooting “deranged” and suggested that she had been “coached” to propagate anti-Trump views on television. He also said that the students’ grief over losing their peers was “politically orchestrated,” “phony,” and “inauthentic.” D’Souza apologized for the “insensitive” tweet Wednesday that was still up on his page.

    BuzzFeed News reached out to Twitter to ask if D’Souza will continue to remain a verified user.

    This woman seems coached and also a bit deranged. Trump’s should ignore these media-manufactured theatrics https://t.co/ewRNRqnlEi— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 20, 2018

    Genuine grief I can empathize with. But grief organized for the cameras—politically orchestrated grief—strikes me as phony & inauthentic— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 21, 2018

    Right-wing talk show host Alex Jones published several videos on his InfoWars YouTube channel also accusing Hogg of forgetting his lines during a TV interview. One video has now been watched more than 9,200 times and has sparked dozens of copycat takes. Another video claiming that the Florida school shooting was a “giant false flag” has 170,000 views. The channel has more than 2 million subscribers.

    In response to an inquiry about videos, a spokesperson for YouTube referred BuzzFeed News to the company’s harassment policy.

    “We recognize the challenging issues presented by hoax videos and the pain they can cause the families who have suffered these incredibly tragic losses,” the spokesperson said. “That is why last summer we updated the application of our harassment policy to include hoax videos that target the victims of these tragedies. Any video flagged to us that violates this policy is reviewed and then removed.”
    [see viral pics claim Hogg is a crisis actor]
    A spokesperson for Facebook said that the company was “aware” of the posts related to the Florida shooting conspiracies, but said that the company doesn’t “have policies in place that require people to tell the truth.”

    “People often make unverified claims about people and events (‘the minister is corrupt!’ ‘I found a roach in my soup at that restaurant!’), and determining what’s true and false (versus what’s opinion, hoax, hyperbole, etc.) isn’t something we can do reliably in specific cases or at scale,” the spokesperson said, noting that there are “valid concerns about a private company being an arbiter of truth.”

    Facebook has taken steps to combat fake news on its platform, the spokesperson added, and has taken steps to address the issue.

    “When potentially false content has been flagged to us, we send it to our third party fact checkers,” he said. “If the fact checking organizations identify a story as fake, we will suggest related articles in News Feed to show people different points of view, including information from fact checkers. Stories that have been disputed may also appear lower in News Feed.”

    Meanwhile, the fringe conspiracy theories have seeped into official channels. An aide to a Florida state lawmaker was fired Tuesday after pushing the crisis actor theory. Florida state Rep. Shawn Harrison said on Twitter that he decided to fire his district secretary, Benjamin Kelly, for making “an insensitive and inappropriate allegation about Parkland students.” The Republican also stressed that he did not share Kelly’s views.

    Tonight Mr. Kelly was terminated from his position as my District Secretary. I am appalled at and strongly denounce his comments about the Parkland students. I am again sorry for any pain this has caused the grieving families of this tragedy.— Shawn Harrison (@Shawnfor63) February 21, 2018

    Earlier Tuesday, Kelly sent an email to a Tampa Bay Times reporter in response to a story detailing how online conspiracy theorists have attacked student survivors of the Florida school shooting.

    “Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen,” Kelly wrote, according to the paper’s Washington bureau chief, Alex Leary.

    Here's the email. I asked for more information to back up the claim and was sent another email that linked to a YouTube conspiracy video. pic.twitter.com/VRSVOcjj3E— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 20, 2018

    When asked to back up his claim, Leary said, Kelly sent a link to a YouTube video peddling a growing conspiracy theory that Hogg was actually an actor because he appeared in a news report last summer in California.

    Kelly, who deleted his Twitter account Tuesday evening, also liked tweets claiming that the Stoneman Douglas students are faking their outrage, and had shared other conspiracy theories and discriminatory language.

    In a statement posted on Twitter before he took down the account, Kelly apologized for emailing the reporter but defended the theory about the shooting survivors, saying that he was fired when he “tried to inform a reporter of information relating to his story regarding a school shooting.”
    [see screenshots of Benjamin Kelly’s Twitter thread apologizing for pushing the Youtube video claiming Hogg is a crisis actor]

    Meanwhile, a former Georgia Republican lawmaker keeps insisting that Democrats are using the Stoneman Douglas students as puppets to force US politicians to put new limits on gun ownership. And President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., liked two tweets propagating the false theories about the teen school shooting survivors.

    Far-right internet personalities and social media accounts have also pounced on an August 2017 CBS video that Hogg appeared in as evidence to bolster their claim that the teenager is actually an actor who travels to tragedies to promote a liberal agenda. In the video, Hogg is interviewed about viral footage he had captured of a confrontation between his friend and a Redondo Beach lifeguard in Redondo Beach and posted to YouTube.

    On Facebook, a video titled, “Crisis Actors from LA to Parkland” garnered 38,000 views in about 10 hours. On Twitter, a pro-Trump user named @ChristiChat, who has more than 260,000 followers, repeatedly pushed the false claim that Hogg is an actor. One of her videos was retweeted at least 6,200 times.

    Hogg had tweeted last summer about visiting California, and also shared the CBS video he appeared in. “Only after a week in LA I’ve made a youtube video with over half a million views and got on the news,” he said on Aug. 8.

    Other far-right figures have seized on Emma González — another Stoneman Douglas student, whose speech at a rally for gun control went viral Saturday — and have pushed false theories that she “was coached” and that Democrats are using her as a pawn to promote their agenda.

    Students, school officials, and Florida lawmakers have pushed back against the conspiracy theories. Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie slammed the rumors that the teens were “crisis actors,” telling the Tampa Bay Times that they “are absolutely students at Stoneman Douglas.”

    “They’ve been there,” Runcie said. “I can verify that.”

    In a tweet, US Sen. Marco Rubio called those who fabricated the theory “a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency.”

    Claiming some of the students on tv after #Parkland are actors is the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 20, 2018

    In response to Kelly’s comments to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran said he was “shocked and angry to read the appalling email about the brave students” and explained that he was the one who terminated the aide.

    The conspiracy theories really gained steam Tuesday, as a group of the teen survivors turned activists traveled to Tallahassee to meet with lawmakers in Florida’s state capitol about gun control. The teens’ nascent movement, dubbed Never Again MSD, has already amassed more than $1 million in donations from celebrities like George Clooney and Oprah.

    Incensed by the rumors about them, the students fired back on social media, emphasizing that they are in fact kids “who feared for our lives while someone shot up our school.”

    We are KIDS – not actors. We are KIDS that have grown up in Parkland all of our lives. We are KIDS who feared for our lives while someone shot up our school. We are KIDS working to prevent this from happening again. WE ARE KIDS.— Jaclyn Corin (@JaclynCorin) February 20, 2018

    “I want to go to school for musical theatre,” Stoneman Douglas senior Diego Pfeiffer told CNN Tuesday. “I would love to be an actor. No joke. But the people who are no longer here, they are not acting. They are dead.”

    “To have other people tell me that my grief is not real, that I am just acting it out — I would love to be that good of an actor but I’m not,” Pfeiffer continued. “This is real.”

    ———-

    “Nope, The Florida School Shooting Survivors Demanding Gun Control Are Not Crisis Actors” by Brianna Sacks; BuzzFeed; 02/21/2018

    These fake claims have now gone viral. Hundreds of videos, articles, and posts claiming to unmask these fake students have swept across social media, gaining thousands of views, shares, and retweets. The content picks apart the students’ performances in media interviews as they talked about the friends they lost in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their anger that the tragedy happened at another US school.”

    This is how wildly successful the ‘crisis actors’ meme has been on the right-wing. When there’s a mass shooting nowadays all it takes is a few Alex Jones videos and it’s almost guaranteed to go viral:


    Right-wing talk show host Alex Jones published several videos on his InfoWars YouTube channel also accusing Hogg of forgetting his lines during a TV interview. One video has now been watched more than 9,200 times and has sparked dozens of copycat takes. Another video claiming that the Florida school shooting was a “giant false flag” has 170,000 views. The channel has more than 2 million subscribers.

    But and didn’t take long at all for the meme to start getting pushed from sites that straddle the line between far-right conspiracy theories and mainstream GOP ‘news’. Sites like the notoriously shady TheGatewayPundit.com:


    As of Tuesday night, 108,135 people were talking about “crisis actors” on Facebook. One video had been watched more than 41,000 times and shared by about 2,300 users. Before it was removed, another Facebook post calling Stoneman Douglas senior David Hogg an actor was shared more than 110,000 times. Yet another clip posted on Twitter got more than 6,000 retweets.

    TheGatewayPundit.com, a right-wing news website, also posted a story that noted Hogg’s father is a retired FBI agent — a fact the site dubbed a “red flag” — and concluded, without evidence, that the teen had been coached to push anti-Trump talking points.

    [see youtube video asserting that David Hogg is a crisis actor]

    And of the 399 videos mentioning “crisis actors Florida” uploaded in the past week, one of them managed to become the top trending video on YouTube:


    On YouTube, there have been 399 videos mentioning “crisis actors Florida” uploaded in the past week, with thousands of people watching clips with titles like “Florida School Shooting Fake Shooting And Hoax, Crisis Actress smiling,” which had 3,800 views by the end of the day Tuesday. One video, suggesting that Hogg was an actor, was the No. 1 trending video on YouTube as of Wednesday, but later appeared to have been removed from YouTube’s trending section. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, YouTube said that it’s system “misclassified” the video because it “contained footage from an authoritative news source.”

    And that top trending status was undoubtedly fueled, in part, by the array of right-wing figures who joined in on the meme. Figures like the far-right sheriff David Clarke and Dinesh D’Souza:


    Prominent Trump supporters on Twitter, including former Milwaukee sheriff David Clarke and conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, have also been peddling the conspiracy theory that the students’ push for gun reform is an orchestrated political effort by the left-wing.

    Clarke tweeted, without evidence, that liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros was backing the teens’ activism and demand for gun reform.

    The well ORGANIZED effort by Florida school students demanding gun control has GEORGE SOROS’ FINGERPRINTS all over it. It is similar to how he hijacked and exploited black people’s emotion regarding police use of force incidents into the COP HATING Black Lives Matter movement. pic.twitter.com/XDZ3bcwF6F— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) February 20, 2018

    D’Souza called one of the survivors of the shooting “deranged” and suggested that she had been “coached” to propagate anti-Trump views on television. He also said that the students’ grief over losing their peers was “politically orchestrated,” “phony,” and “inauthentic.” D’Souza apologized for the “insensitive” tweet Wednesday that was still up on his page.

    BuzzFeed News reached out to Twitter to ask if D’Souza will continue to remain a verified user.

    This woman seems coached and also a bit deranged. Trump’s should ignore these media-manufactured theatrics https://t.co/ewRNRqnlEi— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 20, 2018

    Genuine grief I can empathize with. But grief organized for the cameras—politically orchestrated grief—strikes me as phony & inauthentic— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 21, 2018

    Then an aide o a Florida state lawmaker started pushing these memes are Twitter. And when he was fired, he apologized while still backing up the ‘crisis actor’ theory:


    Meanwhile, the fringe conspiracy theories have seeped into official channels. An aide to a Florida state lawmaker was fired Tuesday after pushing the crisis actor theory. Florida state Rep. Shawn Harrison said on Twitter that he decided to fire his district secretary, Benjamin Kelly, for making “an insensitive and inappropriate allegation about Parkland students.” The Republican also stressed that he did not share Kelly’s views.

    Tonight Mr. Kelly was terminated from his position as my District Secretary. I am appalled at and strongly denounce his comments about the Parkland students. I am again sorry for any pain this has caused the grieving families of this tragedy.— Shawn Harrison (@Shawnfor63) February 21, 2018

    Earlier Tuesday, Kelly sent an email to a Tampa Bay Times reporter in response to a story detailing how online conspiracy theorists have attacked student survivors of the Florida school shooting.

    “Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen,” Kelly wrote, according to the paper’s Washington bureau chief, Alex Leary.

    Here's the email. I asked for more information to back up the claim and was sent another email that linked to a YouTube conspiracy video. pic.twitter.com/VRSVOcjj3E— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 20, 2018

    When asked to back up his claim, Leary said, Kelly sent a link to a YouTube video peddling a growing conspiracy theory that Hogg was actually an actor because he appeared in a news report last summer in California.

    Kelly, who deleted his Twitter account Tuesday evening, also liked tweets claiming that the Stoneman Douglas students are faking their outrage, and had shared other conspiracy theories and discriminatory language.

    In a statement posted on Twitter before he took down the account, Kelly apologized for emailing the reporter but defended the theory about the shooting survivors, saying that he was fired when he “tried to inform a reporter of information relating to his story regarding a school shooting.”
    [see screenshots of Benjamin Kelly’s Twitter thread apologizing for pushing the Youtube video claiming Hogg is a crisis actor]

    And even Donald Trump Jr. got in on the ‘crisis actors’ action:


    Meanwhile, a former Georgia Republican lawmaker keeps insisting that Democrats are using the Stoneman Douglas students as puppets to force US politicians to put new limits on gun ownership. And President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., liked two tweets propagating the false theories about the teen school shooting survivors.

    Because of course he did. Also note that the Georgia Republican lawmaker who keeps insisting that Democrats are using the students as political puppets is Jack Kingston, a CNN commentator. So he’s insisting this stuff to the CNN audiences.

    So it looks like the ‘crisis actor’ meme is already pretty much a permanent feature of the contemporary American right-wing landscape. When there’s a massive shooting it’s actually all an elaborate hoax designed to give gun owners are bad name. And just the latest elaborate hoax in a long string of elaborate hoaxes.

    And don’t forget that the ‘crisis actors’ meme is merely one element of a much, much larger right-wing meme. The meme that everything is a hoax and a lie except for what you hear on places like InfoWars and Fox News and right-wing talk-radio. ONLY trust Alex Jones and Fox News. Everyone else is lying to in order to eventually subjugate you. That’s the meta-meme at work here. The Big Lie wants to assure you that everyone else is lying to you.

    And in other news…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 21, 2018, 4:26 pm
  9. Here’s some additional evidence that, whether or not Nikolas Cruz was formally networking with the Republic of Florida or other neo-Nazi groups, he indeed a neo-Nazi in spirit: First, it turns out that Cruz had swastikas etched onto his ammunition magazines used during the attack:

    CBS News

    Shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz had swastikas on ammunition magazines

    February 27, 2018, 6:49 PM
    Last Updated Feb 27, 2018 7:09 PM EST

    Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz had swastikas ammunition magazines he brought into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School 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, 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 have come to light. While the motive remains unclear, a YouTube commentator with his name posted on a video: “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 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.

    ———-

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

    “Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz had swastikas ammunition magazines he brought into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School 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.”

    So it appears that Cruz clearly wanted to send a “I’m a Nazi!” message as part of this attack.

    We also learn that a gun jam may have been the thing that stopped the attack from being far more lethal:


    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.

    That might answer the question as to why this guy didn’t kill himself like so many of these kinds of spree shooters: he couldn’t after his only gun jammed.

    And regarding the alleged hoaxing about Cruz’s ties to the Republic of Florida, it’s worth recalling that this hoaxing started with posts on 4Chan shortly after the attack when next to nothing was known about Cruz. So is it just a coincidence that a ‘hoax’ about Cruz being tied to local neo-Nazis happened before we learn that this guy was indeed a Nazi who left Nazi call signs on his attack? Because if Cruz was networking with Nazis and made his intentions clear to those neo-Nazis that he was going to stage a school attack, that rapid ‘hoaxing’ over a 4Chan would make tactical sense from a disinformation standpoint: the neo-Nazis have it both ways. They get their Nazi attack, while seemingly discrediting groups like the ADL.

    And here’s an article that makes it clear that Cruz had, at a minimum, an affinity for Nazis going back to at least 2016: It turns out Cruz and his situation with his adoptive mom was investigated by the Florida Department of Children & Families in September of 2016 after the department got a tip that Cruz was cutting his arms and posting pictures on Snapchat and that he expressed intentions to buy a gun. And during that investigation it was learned by Cruz drew a Nazi symbol on his backpack:

    Miami Herald

    Shooter cut himself and drew a Nazi symbol on his book bag, but DCF found him to be stable

    By Carol Marbin Miller

    February 17, 2018 08:39 AM
    Updated February 18, 2018 08:32 AM

    Nikolas Cruz had just broken up with his girlfriend, who had been cheating on him, and he’d gotten into a fight with another boy. He’d drawn a “Nazi symbol” on his book bag. And Broward mental health authorities were worried that his chronic depression was worsening.

    It was Sept. 28, 2016, and Cruz — who since has admitted to perpetrating one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history, Wednesday’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High — took to his arms with a knife.

    “Mr. Cruz was on Snapchat cutting both of his arms,” the Florida Department of Children & Families’ abuse hotline was told at 1:48 p.m. “Mr. Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun.”

    In the report, Cruz, then 18, was listed as an “alleged victim” of medical neglect and inadequate supervision; his mother, 68-year-old Lynda Cruz, the “alleged perpetrator.”

    DCF’s investigation was completed that Nov. 12. The agency concluded that Cruz had not been mistreated by his mother, that he was receiving adequate care from a counselor at Henderson Mental Health, and was attending school.

    “Henderson came out and assessed the [victim and] found him to be stable enough not to be hospitalized,” the report said. More detailed chronological notes of the investigation show the case ended with a notation that “no services are recommended.”

    The investigation appears to have lacked rigor: An exceptional student education specialist who worked with Cruz repeatedly declined to return phone calls from DCF’s adult protective services investigator. The school’s resource officer, a deputy, “refused to share any information” at all, except to confirm that a mobile crisis unit had been out to the school to assess Cruz. Cruz himself also wouldn’t cooperate, saying that “he talked about the situation enough.”

    If Cruz had, in fact, been cutting himself that day, the investigator appears to have made little effort to confirm the allegation: The investigator, the report said, “was not able to see any scars or cuts on the [victim’s] arms because he was wearing long sleeves.”

    Henderson reported to DCF that Cruz “was not at risk to harm himself or others.”

    Cruz’s counselor told DCF that the teen was reported to have “an emotional behavioral disability.” Disciplinary reports obtained by the Miami Herald confirm his educational difficulties. At Westglades Middle School in 2013, he’d been cited numerous times for disrupting class, unruly behavior, insulting or profane language, profanity toward staff, disobedience and other rules violations, the records show. The behaviors continued at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, which he attended in 2016 and 2017 before being transferred.

    Cruz also had been diagnosed with autism, a neurological disorder that often leads to social awkwardness and isolation, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

    The three-page report detailing Cruz’s encounter with DCF in September 2016 was the subject of a petition filed by the agency Friday asking a Broward Circuit judge to make its history with the family public. That petition has not yet been ruled on.

    Following the massacre, DCF wrote in the petition, much of Cruz’s confidential history has been emerging, including: that he had been adopted, that he had a lengthy history of mental illness, and that DCF had investigated his safety. Some of the information in the “public domain,” DCF wrote, was inaccurate.

    “Upon learning that we were in possession of records involving [Cruz] as an adult, DCF immediately started the process to ask a court to allow the release of all records in the spirit of full transparency,” a DCF spokeswoman, Jessica Sims, said in a short statement. “A hearing is set for Monday in Broward Circuit Court for a judge to review our petition for release.”

    Michael Alessandri, a clinical professor of psychology at the University of Miami, cautioned that Cruz’s diagnosis of autism should not be viewed as a cause of the attack at Stoneman Douglas High.

    “It is a terrible, terrible tragedy,” said Alessandri, who is the executive director of UM’s Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. “I can assure you that autism is not what pulled the trigger for this young man,” he added. “This is unquestionably an issue of mental illness. Autism is not that. It is a social communication disorder, not a violent disorder.”

    Cruz, now 19, has been charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder in connection with Wednesday’s massacre at Stoneman Douglas.

    He arrived at the school in an Uber, wearing a dark hat and carrying a black bag that contained an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle that he had brought one year earlier from a Sunrise “tactical supply” store. He walked the interior, firing at students and teachers. Then he left on foot, blending in with panicked students, stopped at a Walmart, where he bought a drink and visited a McDonald’s. Spotted by a deputy after leaving the Walmart, he was detained and cuffed.

    His lawyers say Cruz plans to plead guilty if prosecutors will avoid seeking the death penalty.

    “We are trying to save this child’s life,” said Gordon Weekes, the Broward Public Defender’s Office’s chief assistant. “We have put on the table that we are inclined to resolve this case and spare the community having to relive this issue over again in court.” Weekes said he is hoping prosecutors will forgo a request that Cruz be executed.

    The Broward State Attorney’s Office issued a statement Saturday saying “the death penalty was designed for” cases such as Cruz’s, but that the office had not made a decision on whether to seek it.

    Defenders also have asked Henderson Mental Health, which appears to have had a long history with Cruz, for its records of his treatment. What little the lawyers know, Weekes said, comes from DCF’s 2016 report, which suggests authorities had significant contact with Cruz in the months or years preceding the rampage.

    “There are checks and balances in place to identify individuals in crisis, to get them help, and to protect them and protect others,” Weekes said. “They did not do that.”

    “Every single bell had been rung with this child,” Weekes said, “and nothing had been done.”

    DCF’s only contact with Cruz specifically involving neglect allegations appears to have been triggered by a fight between Cruz and his mother, who now is deceased. DCF had been told initially that Cruz and his mom fought over an ID card the teen needed to buy some kind of game. The details are unclear, but DCF was told that Cruz then took to Snapchat and began “cutting both of his arms.”

    The investigation that followed revealed troubling signs: Cruz “stated he plans to go out and buy a gun.” Earlier, he had placed “hate signs” on his book bag, and wrote “I hate n—–s,” using the racial slur. He had a history of depression.

    Some time in the past, the report said, Henderson had been summoned for Cruz to be involuntarily committed, “but he denies everything,” the report added.

    An assessment of Cruz’s mental health determined that his depression and other issues “impair his ability to cope with the demands of everyday life without the use of medication.” Though Cruz was physically capable of seeing to his own welfare, the report said, he “at times lacks the motivation” to do so.

    Cruz declined to discuss the allegations with DCF, and his counselor from Henderson “stated that there are no issues with the [victim’s] medication and he has been compliant with taking his medications and keeps all of his appointments.”

    Lynda Cruz told investigators that the fight with her son was over the boy’s recent breakup, not an ID card, and that the romance had ended when she and the girl’s mother declared “it was unhealthy for everyone.” Lynda Cruz told investigators her son started cutting himself only after he’d broken up.

    Lynda Cruz denied her son was a racist, and said he wouldn’t knowingly draw racist or Nazi symbols on his belongings. Cruz, she said, claimed he didn’t know what the symbols were.

    Henderson’s mobile crisis unit already had interviewed Cruz at his school, the report said. Cruz had disclosed to a counselor “that he was feeling depressed and started cutting himself.” The counselor “stated that she was concerned about the [victim talking] about wanting to purchase a gun and feeling depressed.”

    Nevertheless, the assessment team “determined that he was not at risk to harm himself or others.” The team “found him to be stable enough not to be hospitalized,” the report said.

    Cruz’s “crisis clinician” had the teen sign a “safety contract,” though the report does not specify what the contract required, other than to say that Cruz would continue with counseling and remain in school.

    The Miami Herald confirmed that, over the following year and a half, Cruz managed to acquire not only the AR-15, but five other firearms.

    Weekes said the report is a recitation of missed opportunities.

    ———–

    “Shooter cut himself and drew a Nazi symbol on his book bag, but DCF found him to be stable” by Carol Marbin Miller; Miami Herald; 02/17/2018

    ““Mr. Cruz was on Snapchat cutting both of his arms,” the Florida Department of Children & Families’ abuse hotline was told at 1:48 p.m. “Mr. Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun.””

    So an alert of a Snapchat post of Cruz cutting his arms and notification of his intent to buy a gun is sent to the Florida Department of Children & Families, and investigators learn that Cruz also has a Nazi symbol on his backpack:


    DCF’s only contact with Cruz specifically involving neglect allegations appears to have been triggered by a fight between Cruz and his mother, who now is deceased. DCF had been told initially that Cruz and his mom fought over an ID card the teen needed to buy some kind of game. The details are unclear, but DCF was told that Cruz then took to Snapchat and began “cutting both of his arms.”

    The investigation that followed revealed troubling signs: Cruz “stated he plans to go out and buy a gun.” Earlier, he had placed “hate signs” on his book bag, and wrote “I hate n—–s,” using the racial slur. He had a history of depression.

    His adoptive mother, however, refuted the idea that he was a racist or that he was even know what the symbols were:


    Lynda Cruz told investigators that the fight with her son was over the boy’s recent breakup, not an ID card, and that the romance had ended when she and the girl’s mother declared “it was unhealthy for everyone.” Lynda Cruz told investigators her son started cutting himself only after he’d broken up.

    Lynda Cruz denied her son was a racist, and said he wouldn’t knowingly draw racist or Nazi symbols on his belongings. Cruz, she said, claimed he didn’t know what the symbols were.

    So it sounds like his now-deceased mom was largely in denial or just unaware of her son’s dark side.

    And now here’s an article that describes how Cruz was exhibiting signs of far-right ideas for years, at least since middle-school. Signs like putting swastikas on a test and calls for President Obama to be burned alive and eaten:

    The Washington Post

    Teachers say Florida suspect’s problems started in middle school, and the system tried to help him

    By Tim Craig, Emma Brown, Sarah Larimer and Moriah Balingit
    February 18, 2018

    PARKLAND, Fla. — The real problems started at least as early as middle school and quickly intensified. There were the vocal outbursts, disturbing drawings of stick figures with guns, constant disciplinary issues. There were threatening statements written on his homework and scrap paper, including a reference to killing President Barack Obama, saying he should be “burned alive and eaten.”

    Some teachers banned Nikolas Cruz from their classrooms at Westglades Middle School because of his erratic behavior. One teacher said he was barred from bringing a backpack to the school and that security personnel had to search him to ensure he didn’t have weapons. Teachers were very concerned about him and were working to get him help.

    “Looking in his eyes, he just looked like there was a problem,” said a teacher who worked with Cruz in sixth grade and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. “His behavior in class wasn’t constantly wrong, but every once in a while, it was. He would just spew something out of his mouth that was inappropriate.”

    Several teachers who knew Cruz in middle school said in interviews that he was an increasing behavioral challenge for the school system and appeared to be on a troublesome path. In the years before he would allegedly carry out one of the worst mass shootings at a school in U.S. history, Cruz faced a long string of escalating disciplinary measures throughout his academic career for insubordination, profanity, disruption, fighting and assault.

    “I can say I was so uncomfortable around him, I did not want to be alone with him in my classroom,” said one former teacher, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. “That is how disruptive his behavior was.”

    In one school year, when Cruz was in middle school, he racked up numerous infractions — including for a fight during the second week of school and continuing with a pattern of unruly behavior, insults and profanity, according to disciplinary records obtained by WPLG-Local 10, an ABC television affiliate in Miami that shared the records with The Washington Post.

    Teachers said that by eighth grade he was lashing out physically — randomly bumping other students in the hallways, appearing to want to pick confrontations and fights, and at times breaking into profanity-laced tirades without any apparent trigger.

    “Something would just upset him and he would just do it and come to class and act out,” one teacher said. His homework scrawls got more troublesome, including repeated tirades against American society, the comment about Obama and other writings teachers found alarming. He put a swastika on a test. He wrote about his intense interest in, and support for, guns.

    ———–

    “Teachers say Florida suspect’s problems started in middle school, and the system tried to help him” by Tim Craig, Emma Brown, Sarah Larimer and Moriah Balingit; The Washington Post; 02/18/2018

    ““Something would just upset him and he would just do it and come to class and act out,” one teacher said. His homework scrawls got more troublesome, including repeated tirades against American society, the comment about Obama and other writings teachers found alarming. He put a swastika on a test. He wrote about his intense interest in, and support for, guns.”

    Repeated tirades against American society and swastikas on a test. Sure sounds like a Nazi! Along with the references to burning alive and eating President Obama:


    The real problems started at least as early as middle school and quickly intensified. There were the vocal outbursts, disturbing drawings of stick figures with guns, constant disciplinary issues. There were threatening statements written on his homework and scrap paper, including a reference to killing President Barack Obama, saying he should be “burned alive and eaten.”

    So we have a growing pile of evidence that Cruz didn’t just suddenly adopt a neo-Nazi worldview. He’s been stewing in these juices for years. And yes, he clearly had some additional mental health issues, but so do a lot a people who don’t go on a shooting spree. And that’s why it’s growing increasingly difficult to to the avoid the question of whether or not this was, in reality, another neo-Nazi domestic terror attack:

    The Daily Beast

    Nikolas Cruz Was a Racist. Does That Make His Attack Terrorism?

    Dean Obeidallah
    03.01.18 5:14 AM ET

    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 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 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 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 with other students his “hating on” Islam and slamming all Muslims as “terrorists and bombers.” And Cruz was also seen wearing a Trump MAGA hat when he was enrolled in school well before the attack.

    While initial reports 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 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 were Jewish. (Some reports note it could be six.) Even more disturbing is that Cruz had reportedly shot bullets into a Holocaust history 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 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 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 for kids with emotional and behavior issues. On social media, he even wrote about his dream 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 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, 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, 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.

    ———–

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

    “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.”

    Yep, it’s pretty remarkable how wildly effective the neo-Nazi ‘hoax’ really was. The “Republic of Florida” connection gets exposed as an intentional hoax, a hoax that appeared to involved the leader of the Republic of Florida, and then the media almost entirely ignores all the subsequent stories that have come out demonstrating that Cruz was, at a minimum, a neo-Nazi true believer.

    And the sudden dropping of the neo-Nazi connection to this shooting has managed to obscure one of the most important questions surrounding this attack: was this a Dylann Roof-style neo-Nazi attack?


    While initial reports 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?!

    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, 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, 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.

    So was this a neo-Nazi terror attack similar to what Dyllan Roof was trying to accomplish? Well, as the following article notes, the school he attacked is almost 40 percent Jewish. It’s hard to imagine Cruz wasn’t well aware of this. And yet this angle of the attack is almost never mentioned:

    Haaretz

    Opinion I Called the Douglas High Shooting a Credibly anti-Semitic Attack. The Response? An anti-Semitic Deluge
    Nikolas Cruz had a well-documented hatred of Jews; the school he shot up had a 40% Jewish population. But to some on the left, who rightly point out the bigotry behind other mass shootings, the idea he targeted Jews fuels a vicious pushback

    Natalie Lifson Feb 21, 2018 4:42 PM

    On February 14th 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz took an Uber to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the institution from which he had been expelled a year earlier, and began shooting. 17 students and teachers were killed and another 14 injured.

    The atrocity has spurred intense debate over pertinent issues such as gun reform, mental health care, and the effectiveness of social services.

    But what still isn’t being discussed is that Douglas High School is more than 40% Jewish, that Cruz believed that Jews were part of a conspiracy to unseat white people from power and destroy the world, and that the shooting could credibly be termed an anti-Semitic hate crime.

    But there seems to be something threatening, or at least deeply uncomfortable, for many people about this contention. From personal experience, the response, at least on social media, is a deluge of vicious anti-Semitism.

    Personal accounts of students who attended high school with Cruz have pegged him as an anti-Semite who believed that white people were the master race.

    According to one individual who knew him and contacted me but was concerned about going public, he was actively hostile towards Jews, black people, and Muslims in particular throughout high school and had threatened them in the past. In fact, that source claims that several of the violent incidents he was expelled for were attacks against Jews. Six victims of his massacre were Jewish.

    One example of his blatant anti-Semitism was recorded in Instagram chats with like-minded white supremacist friends. During one of the rants in the chat, Cruz spoke of his birth mother, saying, “My real mom was a Jew. I am glad I never met her.”

    According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, who investigated Cruz in 2016 after he posted graphic, violent, and disturbing images on Snapchat, Cruz had, at one point, decorated his backpack with swastikas.

    While town records state that only 1.6% of Parkland is Jewish, members of the Parkland Jewish community were quick to point out that the listed demographics only take into account religious Jews. According to Jews who live in Parkland, the majority of the Jewish population is secular, or ethnically and culturally Jewish but not religiously, and would not have self-identified as such in the census.

    The shooting has shaken the local Jewish community. According to a local rabbi, Parkland “is a small community where nearly half the population is Jewish, so everyone has been touched by what happened.”

    At one point in the coverage, it was suggested that Cruz was part of a white supremacist organization, the Republic of Florida Militia whose head claimed to have trained Cruz in the art of gun violence with the explicit purpose of targeting people of color and Jews in the event that they rise up against white people, but also denied any knowledge of or involvement in the shooting. “We’re not a big fan of Jews,” Jerub speculated on Cruz’s motives. “I think there were a lot of Jews at the school that might have been messing with him.”

    However, soon after claiming Cruz as a member of ROF, Jerub backtracked, stating his claims that he trained Cruz with ROF were a “misunderstanding” propelled by the “lying Jew media.” That last comment was far less widely quoted in the media.

    While there is room to question Cruz’s exact motivations – from mental illness to anger over his expulsion – I find it troubling that such a visible connection to anti-Semitism is being overlooked as irrelevant enough to entirely exclude it from many major news articles.

    If a known hater of minorities blatantly and frequently spoke about abhorrence for any other minority and then shot up a school – even one he used to attend – that consisted mostly of members of that ethnic group, people (who care about social justice) would at least be discussing the possibility that it was a hate crime.

    We’re not having that discussion and not taking Cruz’s anti-Semitism seriously because common anti-Semitic tropes paint Jews as powerful and privileged, which leaves room for people to ignore the fact that the long history of prejudice against us continues to this day.

    ———–

    “Opinion I Called the Douglas High Shooting a Credibly anti-Semitic Attack. The Response? An anti-Semitic Deluge” by Natalie Lifson; Haaretz; 02/21/2018

    But what still isn’t being discussed is that Douglas High School is more than 40% Jewish, that Cruz believed that Jews were part of a conspiracy to unseat white people from power and destroy the world, and that the shooting could credibly be termed an anti-Semitic hate crime.”

    Cruz clearly hates a wide variety of minorities. But it’s hard to ignore that he shot up a school that was over 40 percent Jewish. And yet that fact is actually be largely ignored. Was the ‘hoax’ that effective?

    And note that the individual who anonymously contacted the above author and described how Cruz was expelled for violent attacks against Jews could very well be one of those 4Chan trolls. That was their m.o.: contact the press, but ask to not reveal their identities, and then make claims about how he really was a neo-Nazi:


    According to one individual who knew him and contacted me but was concerned about going public, he was actively hostile towards Jews, black people, and Muslims in particular throughout high school and had threatened them in the past. In fact, that source claims that several of the violent incidents he was expelled for were attacks against Jews. Six victims of his massacre were Jewish.

    So unless we get further confirmation that Cruz really was expelled for attacks against Jews we should probably assume that this was disinformation from another hoaxer. Which would once again be ‘disinformation’ that just happens to align with the reality of Cruz that we’ve learned through later reports.

    Similarly note who else saw a potential anti-Semitic angle very early on: Jordan Jereb of the Republic of Florida. And when Jereb backtracked from his claims he blamed it all on the “Jewish media”:


    At one point in the coverage, it was suggested that Cruz was part of a white supremacist organization, the Republic of Florida Militia whose head claimed to have trained Cruz in the art of gun violence with the explicit purpose of targeting people of color and Jews in the event that they rise up against white people, but also denied any knowledge of or involvement in the shooting. “We’re not a big fan of Jews,” Jerub speculated on Cruz’s motives. “I think there were a lot of Jews at the school that might have been messing with him.”

    However, soon after claiming Cruz as a member of ROF, Jerub backtracked, stating his claims that he trained Cruz with ROF were a “misunderstanding” propelled by the “lying Jew media.” That last comment was far less widely quoted in the media.

    Jordan Jereb and a bunch of trolls of 4Chan allegedly perpetrate a hoax on the world very soon after this attack, first claiming that Cruz was active with the Republic of Florida only to have that retracted and exposed as a hoax a day later. Thus establishing very early on that this attack wasn’t a neo-Nazi attack. And yet, as we’re discovering, just about everything those ‘hoaxers’ were ‘hoaxing’ about turned out to be true.

    So it looks like ‘hoax hoaxes’ should be expected in the future. After all, given the wild success of what appears to be a hoaxed hoax in this case it’s hard to imagine neo-Nazis aren’t going to try to repeat it. And that’s one more big reason we have to hope investigators take seriously the possibility that this attack involved a premeditated ‘hoax hoax’: You generally want to avoid ‘feeding the trolls.’ But in this case ‘feeding the trolls’ might actually get someone killed. Maybe even a lot of people killed. And help the killer’s neo-Nazi troll accomplices get away with it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 1, 2018, 10:06 pm

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