On Monday night, as I noted yesterday, someone (or more than one someone) shot five Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis. Witnesses to the shooting and others who have been following the protest say that the shots came from a small group of white supremacists who had been hanging around the protest for days. .
We still don’t know who pulled the trigger, but it is growing increasingly clear that most if not all of the small squad of racists at the protest were 4channers associated with the /pol/ and /k/ boards, the first a politics board overrun with racists and conspiracy theories and the second a hangout for weapons enthusiasts.
But a lot has happened since my last post, so here’s a roundup of some of the more significant developments.
The police are holding four men — all white, and all in their twenties — allegedly involved in the shooting.
According to local newspaper, police have arrested 23-year-old Lawrence “Lance” Scarsella III, who is one of the two masked men shown driving to the protests in this video last week. (Here’s what appears to be a video of the arrest.)
Ironically, Black Powder Ranger, as Scarsella is apparently known online, was not the one brandishing the gun. BLM activists say that SaigaMarine, the gun-toting racist driving the car and spouting racist epithets, was the somewhat older Hispanic man arrested and released yesterday because he evidently had an alibi for the night of the shooting.
Two other men — identified as Daniel Thomas Macey and Nathan Gustavsson — turned themselves in to police yesterday. Newsweek reports that the police are also questioning a fourth man, Joseph Backman.
While we still don’t know the details of the shooting, someone — apparently one of the 4chan gang — sent a video to a local radio station that appears to show what happened in the minutes immediately before the shooting, in which a group of BLM protesters confronted the 4channers filming their protest. Unfortunately, the video has no sound
Videos of the racist gang at the protest — there are several making the rounds on YouTube — make it abundantly clear that they are either 4channers or others intimately familiar with 4chan lingo. One of the gang even sports a /k/ patch on his jacket.
Much of their conversation consists of little more than repitition of 4chan memes and coded language (e.g. “cultural enrichment”) that they apparently thought would conceal their racism from the Black Lives Matter crowd. No such luck for them: BLM activists figured out relatively quickly that the small group of masked men talking amongst themselves as they not-so-secretly filmed the crowd were up to no good.
Here’s one of the videos of them at the demonstration:
While the racist gang at the protests is clearly connected to 4chan, it’s not clear if any of its members are connected to broader hate movements or subcultures, from GamerGate to the militia movement.
But they are certainly steeped in racism and in America’s gun culture. Digging through the limited information on the internet about the 4chan contingent at the protests, Raw Story notes that they seem to share “a fascination with guns, video games, the Confederacy and right-wing militia groups.”
The cover photo on Scarcella’s Facebook page, for example, shows what’s known as the Bonnie Blue Confederate flag. One of his Facebook likes is OAF Nation, a veterans’ group so right-wing that it has attacked other veterans’ groups for distributing what it called ” f*ggoty ass yard signs” asking those lighting fireworks to not do so near the homes of veterans with PTSD.
Gustavsson, one of the men who turned himself in, brandishes a rifle in his Facebook profile picture as well.
SaigaMarine — apparently the man arrested and released — also posed for his Facebook profile “armed and donning full military gear, the StarTribune reports. “He describes his occupation simply as ‘Saving the Constitution.'”
I will post more when I know more.
Please email me, or post in the comments below, if you see something.