How are Dayton, El Paso, Gilroy, Christchurch and Charleston connected?
by Sumiko Saulson
Updated Aug. 8 – We have a white supremacy and mass murder problem in the United States. We also have an apologist problem. No matter how obvious it is that these mass shootings are connected, most of the American public is refusing to make the connection. It is not as though the press has refused to make it. These shooters hang out in the same 8Chan forums that promote racism, anti-miscegenation (anti-race mixing), anti-Semitism, xenophobia (anti-immigrant prejudice), and specifically anti-Mexican prejudice.
Dylann Roof, the mass murderer behind the June 17, 2015, Charleston church shooting, wrote an extensive manifesto which said he was starting a race war. Although white supremacists groups connected to Roof such as the Council of Conservative Citizens were quick to disassociate from Roof after he was arrested, his website and manifesto have developed a big internet following. Five of the African American church burnings following his arrest were viewed as possible acts of support for his manifesto.
There have been three different mass shootings in less than a week. Two are clearly connected to white supremacists cut from this same cloth, and on the third, in Dayton, the jury is still out. The fact that killer Connor Betts’ 22-year-old brother was one of the victims makes it unclear if there were other motives.
However, reports of Bett’s misogyny, violence, rape and death threats, and a fascination with mass shootings are already pouring in. LGBTQIA+ outlets such as The Advocate and The Pink News are reporting that his younger sibling was a transgender man who went by the name Jordan Cofer. He is being misgendered by the media because the family and law enforcement are misgendering and deadnaming him. Mysteriously, the press claims Cofer being trans had nothing to do with his brother’s outrage despite the fact that Cofer was closeted, went to a conservative high school with his brother, the shooter, and may have recently outed himself to family.
Further, early reports asserted that the nine victims crossed racial lines, which local law enforcement and the media are quick to cite as a reason they believe racism can’t be the motive. However, the quickness to dismiss racism as a possible motive is in and of itself problematic. First of all, six of the nine victims were Black. Excluding the shooter’s brother, 75 percent of the victims were Black in a city where 39.5 percent of the people are Black.
Secondly, the shootings started outside Ned Peppers, reportedly a bar that is frequented by Black patrons. Certainly, there are lots of Black people in the video of the people running from the gunfire.
Thirdly, although his identity remains uncertain, Black news outlet NewsOne speculates based on social media reports Jordan Cofer was dating a Black man, and his brother was angry. The police haven’t released his identity and are now referring to the man, shot but not killed, as Cofer’s “companion.” Hiding his identity seems suspicious as he is a witness, not a suspect. But so many details, including Cofer’s gender, are being hidden by the police.
The shooting in Gilroy and the shooting in El Paso were both proudly claimed by white supremacists. Santino William Legan, 19, the Gilroy Garlic Festival killer, was a white supremacist. He sent out racist social media messages before the shooting and told people to buy the misogynistic white supremacist book “Might Is Right” by Ragnar Redbeard, which claims men own women.
The book is a staple of racist internet forums where future mass murderers congregate. All three of his very young victims were people of color, a 6-year-old Latino child, a 13-year-old Latina girl and a 25-year-old Black man. Still, the FBI is already coming out with its propaganda about how he wasn’t a racist. How can this be?
The El Paso shooter expressed support for the Christchurch killer. Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old white man who killed 20 and injured at least 26 more, wrote a manifesto of his own, entitled “The Inconvenient Truth.” It is a hate filled treatise against race-mixing that specifically targets Mexican-Americans.
Over the past eight years, at least 16 high profile attacks have been motivated by anti-immigrant white supremacists like Crusius, and the rate at which these are occurring seems to be snowballing. They congregate on an internet forum located right here in Silicon Valley called 8Chan.
8Chan is an internet electronic bulletin board system offering a lack of censorship to its users under a haze of arguments about the First Amendment and free speech. It was established in 2013 by Fredrick Brennan, a 25-year-old New Yorker. Although a self-professed eugenics fan, he has distanced himself from 8Chan and expressed regrets since the Churchchrist shootings.
8Chan is based on an earlier site called 4Chan, which was used by Silicon Valley videogame developers to hassle women in a national scandal connected with a group known as GamerGate. 4Chan was also connected to hassling women and people of color in politics, arts and entertainment – and on the literary convention circuit.
When new rules developed to discourage that, an even more toxic site known as 8Chan arose in its ashes and the GamerGate cyber bullies started managing their campaigns from there. The only thing that is banned on 8Chan is child pornography, although that also pops up there. Literally anything else, including racist manifestos, is allowed.
There is a definite upsurge in racially motivated mass killings over the past years. There was only one per year from 2011 to 2014, two in 2015, and one in 2016. Since January 2017 there has been a dramatic upsurge, with five in 2017, two in 2018 and four so far in 2019. Needless to say, many people feel President Trump is at least partially responsible. Four of the five 2017 racially motivated mass murders were in America and three of the 2019 killings.
Three shootings this year have been connected with 8Chan manifestos and rants: Christchurch in New Zealand, the WalMart shooting in El Paso, Texas, and the Poway Synagogue Shooting in San Diego in April. 8Chan and Trump’s incitement through explosive anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant speeches are both being blamed for the upsurge in these kinds of attacks in recent years, with candidate Beto O’Rourke openly calling President Trump a racist. It has gotten so bad that Mexico is now threatening to sue in court and demanding protection for Mexican American citizens because of El Paso and shootings of its kind.
Bestselling author Sumiko Saulson writes award-winning multicultural sci-fi, fantasy, horror and Afrosurrealism. Winner of the 2017 Afrosurrealist Writer’s Award, 2016 HWA Scholarship from Hell, and 2016 BCC Voice Reframing the Other Award, their/her monthly series Writing While Black follows the struggles of Black writers in the literary arts and other segments of arts and entertainment. Support her on Patreon and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.