ThinkProgress

Growing number of killings tied to young white supremacists

According to a new report, the number of murders from young white supremacists only keeps rising. (CREDIT: CALLA KESSLER, THE WASHINGTON POST)

A report published last month by the Anti-Defamation League showed that the rate of killings tied to white supremacists surged during President Trump’s first year in office. Now, a new report out of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has tabulated just how many of those killings were from those affiliated with the so-called “alt-right” — the misogynistic milieu, steeped in online propaganda, targeting the youngest generation of white supremacists.

According to the SPLC, the number of killings and injured persons attributed to this newest generation of white nationalists has skyrocketed since the group first made itself known a few years ago. Since 2014, the report found that some 43 individuals had been killed and 67 had been injured in attacks by the so-called “alt-right.”

In just the past year alone, 17 individuals were killed and an additional 43 were injured — by far the highest annual rate of all years included in the study.

“Of the 12 alleged or convicted killers connected to [this new generation of white supremacists], the average age of perpetrators is 26 years old,” SLPC researchers write. “Only three have been older than 30 with the youngest being just 17.”

The SPLC traces the first killings associated with this trend to 2014, when Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old, killed six people as well as himself in a spree near the University of California, Santa Barbara. The killings were admittedly spurred by Rodger’s loathing of both women and interracial couples. Rodger, as well as 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer — who killed another nine people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon in October 2015 — were considered biracial.

Rodger’s murder spree later become something of a model for young white supremacists who would later follow in his footsteps. His name was even summoned in online posts by 21-year-old William Atchison, a young white supremacist who killed a pair of high school students in Aztec, New Mexico this past December, before taking his own life.

The SPLC report also singled out two high profile attacks perpetrated in the last few years: then-21-year-old Dylann Roof’s massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, which left nine African-American parishioners dead, and 20-year-old James Fields’ car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia last August, which left one woman dead and several more injured. The report also details the 2017 killings tied to 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonette in Canada. Bissonnette allegedly opened fire on the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City on January 29, 2017, killing six worshipers and wounding an additional 19.

While that attack did not generate as much press in the United States as Roof or Fields, Bissonette also lurked in the same online forums as many of the others mentioned in the report. Bissonette reportedly also shares a link with a handful of the other attackers mentioned in the report: his support for Trump. Not only did Bissonette and Fields reportedly profess their support for the president online — the latter used a photo of Trump as a king for his Facebook cover image — but a third murderer included on the list, Lane Davis, even penned raps in support of Trump and posted them on his YouTube channel. Davis, 33, was reportedly “obsessed with liberal ‘pedophilia,’” according to SPLC, and summoned various right-wing conspiracy theories before stabbing his father to death in July last year.

The SPLC report isn’t without its issues. To wit, the report includes Jeremy Christian, who killed a pair of Portlanders last summer, in its tally of so-called “alt-right” killings. Christian may have espoused white supremacist beliefs, but he also professed support for Bernie Sanders. Likewise, there’s still no concrete indication that the 2017 murder of Richard Collins III — allegedly at the hands of Sean Urbanski, who had joined a Facebook group called “Alt Reich: Nation” — was due to racism.

However, the report presents a sobering reality: that the transition of young white supremacists from online hate to real world ramifications, long feared, has finally begun taking place. Given that the White House is effectively uninterested in combating the trend — at times even suggesting that the young men in those extremist movements are associating with “very fine people,” as Trump did when referring to white supremacists and neo-Nazis last August — there’s little reason to think this pattern will end anytime soon.

“After a year of escalating alt-right violence, we are probably in for more,” the report concludes.