Media Bias in Coverage of Terrorism in United States
A Chronology of Right-Wing Violence in the United States
Compiled by David Neiwert, Sara Robinson, and Chip Berlet
Right-wing pundits spread alarmist stories about dangerous Muslims and Mexicans. The federal government targets for terrorism investigations environmentalists, animal rights activists, and anarchists. Meanwhile the threat of violence and actual violent incidents from right-wing fanatics is glossed over.
During the election campaign in 2008 it was clear some people were becoming agitated about the potential for a Black man backed by liberals to become the next President of the United States.
In just the five months following the inauguration of Barack Obama there were nine murders by men and women who intersected with ideologies of White Supremacy, anti-immigrant xenophobia, and antisemitism.
Beginning with the “Southern Strategy” employed by President Richard Nixon, some Republicans have used racial fear among white voters to gain election advantages, often masking them in economic arguments (Edsall and Edsall, 1991; Carter, 1995; Balmer, 2006). The Patriot and Militia movements of the 1990s also exploited a mix of economic and racial fears (Gallaher, 2003).
Stress in the political, social, or economic system can lead to the type of societal anxiety that produces conspiracy theories about subversive plots. These "conspiracy panics" generate a form of apocalyptic aggression.
The following is compiled from published news reports.
April 3, Viola, Wisconsin: Robert Bayliss, , Sovereign citizen fires on officers when they try to serve eviction papers.
June 8, Troutville, Pennsylvania: Members of the Brookville Tiger Militia stock up on explosives, made plans for violent resistance.
July 27, Knoxville, Tennessee: Jim David Adkisson, an angry conservative, opens fire in Unitarian Church; manifesto urges violent war against liberals.
October 22, Brownsville, Tennessee: Two racist skinheads, Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman, plot to assassinate Presiential candidate Barack Obama at the climax of their planned killing spree targeting Black people.
November, Staten Island, New York: On election night Ali Kamara, a teenage Muslim and Black immigrant from Liberia was brutally assaulted. Just before he was pummeled to the ground and beaten on election night, his attackers shouted “Obama,” said Ali Kamara. He told reporters, “I see the car coming…They were not happy. They had hoodies on. They started hitting me with bats, and
my body started vibrating. I was bleeding all over.” Kamara added, “I did not know them…I think it was a racist crime.” Ralph Nicolleti and Bryan Garaventa, both 18, were later arrested.
November, Springfield, Massachusetts: On election night the Macedonian Church of God in Christ, serving a predominantly Black congregation, was burned to the ground in an arson attack later determined to be a racist hate crime. Anti-racist activist Kat Robertson followed the case, eventually reporting that:
Benjamin F. Haskell pleaded guilty in 2010, agreeing to wear a wire to aid in the prosecution’s case which led to the implication of the other two suspects. Haskell is currently serving a nine year sentence. Michael Jacques was sentenced to 14 years in December 2011. The final defendant, Thomas A. Gleason, who was in court on Wednesday, will serve three years of supervised release after completing his four-and-one-half year prison sentence. The court also ordered the three arsonists to share in paying restitution in the amount of $1.7 million.
Thousands of volunteers over a period of three years helped rebuild the church, which reopened on September 24, 2011.
November, Maine: Residents discovered Black figures hanging from nooses tied to trees.
November, Pennsylvania: Crosses were burned in the yards of Obama supporters.
November, New Jersey: Crosses were burned in the yards of Obama supporters.
December 12, Woodburn, Oregon: Patriot' movement father and son Bruce and Joshua Turnidge build bomb to rob bank; explosion kills two police officers.
December 16, Jacksonville, North Carolina: Kody Ray Brittingham, an Ex-Marine, is arrested in a motel robbery, but investigators find plan to assassinate President Obama.
January 22, Brockton, Massachusetts: Just a day after Obama’s inauguration in January, 22-year-old Keith Luke, a young White man, goes on a rape and killing spree in his neighborhood, killing two people of color in the Cape Verdean community in Brockton, Massachusetts. He rapes and shoots one woman, and kills the sister who tries to help her. He then goes out onto the street and shoots and kills a passing homeless man. Reports indicate Luke had been browsing White Supremacist and neonazi websites and had come to believe that White people were facing genocide at the hands of non-Whites, Hispanics and Jews. Police intercept him on his way to a local synagogue to shoot Jews attending a bingo night. Luke later tells investigators that he was fighting the extinction of the white race, and had stockpiled 200 round of ammunition to that end. District Attorney Frank Middleton said that Luke “methodically began an evil plan of mass murder and rape in the City of Brockton targeting victims he identified as nonwhite.'' Middleton said Luke wanted to "kill as many Jews, blacks, and Hispanics as humanly possible...before killing himself” The dead included Selma Goncalves, who had tried to stop the alleged rape of her sister by the gunman. The other death was a father of eight, Arlindo Goncalves (not related), shot dead in the street simply because of skin color.
February 10, Belfast, Maine: Materials for making a radioactive "dirty bomb" are found in home of James Cummings, who had been killed by his wife on February 10th after years of domestic violence. Cummings was an admirer of Adolf Hitler; a large collection of Nazi memorabilia and a filled-out application for the National Socialist Movement were found on the scene.
February 26, Miramar Beach, Florida: 60-year-old Dannie Baker walks into a neighboring townhouse on February 26 where 14 Chilean students -- all in the US legally -- are gathered. He fires, killing two and wounding five. Those who know Baker, a former GOP volunteer, describe him as a mentally ill man obsessed with the fear that immigrants are taking over the country.
March 5, Las Vegas, Nevada: Harold Call and associates in the Sovereign Citizens movement are arrested for arms cache, tax evasion, money laundering. 03/05/09
April 4, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Richard Popalowski kills three police officers responding to a domestic disturbance call. He believed they had been sent by the Obama Adminstration to take away his guns. The gunman had expressed White Supremacist and antisemitic views, and worried that there was a conspiracy afoot for government agents to seize all guns. According to a friend, Poplawski was worried about "the Obama gun ban that's on the way" and he "didn't like our rights being infringed upon.”
April 25, Fort Walton Beach, Forida: US Army Reservist Joshua Cartwright shoots and kills two sheriff's deputies, Warren "Skip" York and Burt Lopez. His wife called police from the emergency room after he beat her. In the incident report, his wife reported that her husband believed the U.S. Government was conspiring against him, and was severely disturbed that Barack Obama had been elected President.
May 5, Monroe, Washington: Andrew Steven Gray, a Sovereign Citizen, is arrested on weapons and drug charges after his arms cache is found.
May 6, Middletown, Connecticut: Stephen P. Morgan kills former NYU classmate Johanna Justin-Jinich, whom he had been harassing since at least 2007. A diary found in his belongings included an entry: "I think it's ok to kill Jews and go on a killing spree" and "Kill Johanna. She must Die." Justin-Jinich was Jewish, and the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor.
May 30, Arivaca, Arizona. Police allege that a gang of racist vigilante “border patrol” activists, including Shawna Forde, Jason Eugene Bush, and Albert Robert Gaxiola, staged an armed invasion of the home of a Mexican family, killing the father, Raul Flores, the nine-year-old daughter, Brisenia, and seriously wounding the mother. According to the charges brought against a trio linked to the Minuteman American Defense (MAD), the plan was to kill all the residents of the house, and then steal the narcotics and money the vigilantes expected to find there. The funds were to be used to support increased border vigilante actions. In a “Patriot Hearts Network” web radio interview a few weeks earlier, one of the trio had denounced the illegal crossing of the border by Mexicans and warned, “We’re going to be walking into some times of revolution….”
May 31, Wichita, Kansas: Dr. George Tiller is shot to death while ushering at his Lutheran church in Wichita, KS. His killer, Scott Roeder, is captured by police within hours. Roeder is found to have ties to several violent right-wing groups, including the Montana Freemen and the Sovereign Citizen movement. He had also been committing acts of vandalism against abortion clinics for years, most recently just days before the assassination. Tiller, considered a hero by many in the reproductive justice movement, was a symbol of evil to many in the anti-abortion movement. The Sovereign Citizen movement is rooted in a White Supremacist interpretation of U.S. Constitutional law, and frequently overlaps with antisemitic conspiracy theories. Several right-wing pundits on TV and radio had repeatedly condemned Tiller by name.
June 10, Washington, DC: Well-known anti-Semitic blogger James Wenneker von Brunn, 88, walks into the national Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC and opens fire, killing a Black security guard, Stephen Tyrone Johns. Von Brunn had been prominent in Holocaust denier circles for several decades, and considered Holocaust museums to be a crime against white history. He had a long history of virulent writings outlining his White Supremacist and antisemitic views.
June 25, Scottsdale, Arizona: Dennis Mahon, Daniel Mahon, and Robert Joos, all neonazis, are arrested for the 2004 bombing of a Scottsdale diversity office.
July 13, Houston, Texas: Gilbert Ortez, an ex-cop kills a deputy after Ortez's girlfriend fires on a meter reader. Bombs and Nazi literature are later found at home.
September 3, Antioch, Illinois: Father and son John and Burl Thomas are found with house full of weapons and explosives, and Nazi paraphernalia.
November 23, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio: Mark Campano, a man who 'hated the government' wounds hand in explosion, cops find arsenal, explosives.
December 9, Belfast, Maine: James G. Cummings, a White supremacist angered by Obama election assembles 'dirty bomb' parts, but is killed by his wife who fear for her safety.
December 23, Wytheville, Virginia: Warren 'Gator' Taylor, angry at the government, takes hostages at post office with handguns and plastic explosives carried on his wheelchair. Taylor later surrenders after standoff.
“He was really down on the government,” Jimmy Oliver, 41, one of the three hostages, said in an interview .... “About the government taking over the right to bear arms.
February 18, Austin, Texas: Joseph A. Stack files an anti-tax screed online, then flies plane into IRS offices, killing himself and IRS worker at his desk.
March 4, Washington, DC: John Patrick Bedell who is angry at the government walks into Pentagon and opens fire, wounds two before being killed.
March 25, Sumter County, Florida: Brody James Whitaker, a Sovereign Citizen, fires at two Florida state troopers when they pull him over. He then flees.
April 1, Atlanta, Georgia: White supremacist Brandon Lee Hall is arrested walking down Atlanta street with open weapons. He is sentencved to 30 years in prison.
April 7, Henderson, Texas: Angry at the government, Larry Eugene North drops 36 pipe bombs into east Texas mailboxes. 04/07/10
April 12, Cleveland, Ohio: Matthew Fairfield, a participant in the right-wing Oath Keeper movement, is put on trial for keeping a napalm bomb stored in his rented home.
April 20, Madisonville, Tennessee: Darren Huff is arrested for planned takeover of county courthouse in support of Sovereign Citizen movement activist Walter Francis Fitzpatrick.
The incident began On April 1, [when] Walter Francis Fitzpatrick had tried a citizen's arrest of Grand Jury Foreman Gary Pettway. Fitzpatrick had previously tried to get the grand jury to indict President Barack Obama on charges of treason, with no success. Fitzpatrick was charged with disorderly conduct, inciting to riot, disrupting a meeting, and resisting arrest.
The FBI says Huff traveled to Tennessee armed with a pistol on his hip and an assault rifle in his truck, intent on carrying out citizen's arrests of 24 federal, state, and local officials, and on seeing that [Fitzpatrick] did not face trial for trying to do the same.
April 22, Wichita Falls, Texas: White Supremacist Ross William Muehlenberger goes on a rampage shouts 'white power,' and kills 1, wounds four.
May 3, Hemet, California: Racist skinhead Patrick Nugent Jr. is charged for booby-trapping incidents in which police officers were targeted.
May 11, Jacksonville, Florida: A mosque is firebombed by anti-Islamic activist Sandlin Smith who is later caught in Oklahoma.
May 20, West Memphis, Arkansas: Sovereign citizens Jerry and Joe Kane kill two police officers when pulled over, then die in shootout.
July 18, Oakland, California: Byron Williams a heavily armed unemployed man is arrested as he drives toward the non-profit Tides Center in California. His plan was to “kill progressives.” As Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank reveals , Williams "wanted to start a revolution by 'killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU', according to a police affidavit. His mother, Janice, told the San Francisco Chronicle that her son had been watching television news and was upset by 'the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items.'” Milibanks notes that right-wing media celebrity Glenn Beck routinely accuses Tides of plots seeking to seize political power and destroy capitalism. Beck also draws elaborate diagrams on his program linking dozens of left-leaning groups to an anti-American conspiracy controlled from the Tides Center.
July 31, Cumberland, Pennsylvania: Prison guards Raymond Peake and Thomas Tuso steal guns by murdering owners as part of plan to overthrow the government.
September 7, Greensboro, North Carolina: Justin Carl Moose, who calls himself "the Christian counterpart to Osama bin Laden," is arrested for bombing a clinic that performs abortions.
September 13, Webberville, Michigan: Richard McLeod is pulled over in a traffic stop by police who find more than they expect:
On the outside of the 48-year-old's vehicle were bumper stickers quoting Adolf Hitler. On the inside, police say there was a picture of Obama, a loaded gun, a bullet-proof vest and tips on how to build bombs.
December 25, Fall River, Massachusetts: Justin Vieira, a neonazi waving a swastika flag, gets into a standoff with authorities. He breaks a gas line in an apartment, then threatens to blow up the building.
December 28, Crane, Texas: Steven Scott Cantrell, a White supremacist sets church afire because it harbored a black man.
January 8, Tucson, Arizona: Jared Lee Loughner shoots Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, kills 6, wounds 19 at public meet-and-greet event.
Janurary 18, Spokane, Washington: Kevin William Harpham, an Aryan Nations member, plants lethal backpack bomb along route of MLK Day Parade.
January 26, Phoenix, Arizona: Jeffrey Harbin, a neonazi, is arrested for possessing cache of grenade-like explosives.
January 30, Dearborn, Michigan: Roger Stockham, a California man with an obsession about "jihad" is arrested with guns, explosives outside a mosque.
March 10, Fairbanks, Alaska: Schaeffer Cox and four others, all affiliated with a right-wing militia, are arrested for plotting to murder of state troopers and judges.
March 10, Madera, California: Donny Mower, a bus driver, is arrested for firebombing clinic and tossing a brick through a mosque window.
June 11, Lolo, Montana: Dave Burgert, an armed citizens militia participant, fires at police officers, then vanishes into deep woods.
July 28, McKinney, Texas: An unknown arsonist throws a Molotov cocktail at door of a Planned Parenthood clinic
August 23, Washington, DC: Glenn Neff arrested after caughtplanning to set off fireworks in a vehicle near the National Mall to protest Federal Reserve.
August 24, St. Louis, Missouri: Joseph Gamac, a White supremacist, attacks a mixed-race group at an area mall with a pickaxe.
August 25, Corvallis, Oregon: Cody Seth Crawford, a man with a history of anti-Islamic tirades, is arrested for setting fire to a college-town mosque
October 4, 2011, Eureka, California: David Lee Pedersen kills his ftaher. Then Pedersen, a neonazi, embarks on killing spree with his girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, aiming to kill 'non-whites.'
November 1, Toccoa, Georgia: Four militia members are arrested in plot to make ricin, assassinate federal officials
December 7, Washougal, Washington: Facing child-abuse charges, Steven Stanbury kills his wife and her twin sister, sets fire to their home, and shoots at arriving firefighters.
December 19, Webster, Pennsylvania: A reclusive anti-government survivalist, Eli Franklin Myers III, kills a deputy in a traffic pullover, then dies in armed standoff.
December 23, Seligman, Arizona: Sovereign citizen Shawn Rice' engages police in armed standoff after being indicted for variety of federal charges
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August 5, Oak Creek, Wisconsin: Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran, is shot dead after walking into a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, allegedly shooting and killing six and wounding others. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:
The man who allegedly murdered six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee yesterday, identified in media reports as Wade Michael Page, was a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.
In 2010, Page, then the leader of the band End Apathy, gave an interview to the white supremacist website Label 56. He said that when he started the band in 2005, its name reflected his wish to “figure out how to end people’s apathetic ways” and start “moving forward.”