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Part 1 of four parts.
Three hate crimes with a racial
component: in Florida,
a mass murder
in a Pennsylvania, PA synagogue:
2018-OCT: Florida's MAGA Bomber. No fatalities due to fast action by FBI and Postal Service:
The "MAGA Bomber" sent pipe bombs to a group of Democrats who he had apparently selected because they had previously criticized President Trump (R). Thirteen Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) have been discovered so far, but more bombs could be in transit. He sent bombs to former President Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, Robert De Nero, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), Senator Cory Brooker (D-NJ), investor George Soros, former national intelligence director James Clapper, and five others. All packages were intercepted in the postal service before being delivered. His fingerprints were found on one package; these led to his arrest. His DNA was also detected on two of the IEDs.
Police have arrested Cesar Sayoc, 56, and charged him with five federal crimes. If found guilty, he faces up to 48 years in prison. That would almost certainly be a life sentence for him. On OCT-26, FBI Director Christopher Wray said:
"These are not hoax devices."
The Aventura Police Department have had interactions with Sayoc in the past. He was convicted of grand theft auto and fraud. During 2002, he was frustrated by lack of service from a utility representative and threatened to throw a bomb at the individual. He served a one year probation for that threat. The other interactions were all minor traffic violations. 1
Senator Brooker tweeted that he is:
"Grateful for law enforcement's work to bring those responsible to justice & for their vigilance to keep Americans safe. Cowardly acts of terror will never silence or intimidate Americans -- they will only strengthen our resolve to stand against fear & hatred." 2
He apparently is a Christian, anti-semitic, homophobic, probably transphobic, and a white supremacist. He worked as a delivery driver for a restaurant where Debra Gureghian was his supervisor. When interviewed by CNN, she said:
"I knew he had issues. ... He was anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Jewish, you name it. Everybody that really wasn’t white and wasn’t a white supremacist didn’t belong in the world. That’s what he used to say to me all the time. ... As far as an employee, he was on time, he was cordial, he was articulate. I never had any problems with him. There was no theft. My customers liked him. But it was just his political views that scared me. Basically he was a model employee.
"... he knew that I was [a very strong supporter [of the LGBT community,] a very strong lesbian, very proud of my sexuality. But more than once, he told me that if he had complete autonomy, I would burn in hell with all the blacks and Jews and Hispanics and everybody else. It was just the white supremacists that were gonna rule the world. And unfortunately, he said, 'Debra, as much as I like you, you’re gonna be the first one I burn'."
He also said that "Jesus made a mistake" by making her a lesbian, and that she should burn in Hell. 3
Buried inside this profoundly hate-filled comment is a miniscule spot of light. Sayoc implied that his supervisor's sexual orientation was not chosen by her. Many religious conservatives believe that gays and lesbians are all born heterosexual, and choose their same-sex sexual orientation as youths. If everyone believed what research has shown -- that sexual orientation is determined before birth by an epigenetic layer on top of their DNA, -- then hatred and violence against the LGBT community would likely fall.
2018-OCT-24: Kentucky shooting. 2 Fatalities:
Police state that a white man, Gregory A. Bush, aged 51, was carrying a gun when he attempted to enter the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown -- a historically black church in Kentucky. Jeffersontown is about 15 miles (24 km) southeast of Louisville, KY. The pastor of the church is black, as is a large percentage of the congregation. The door of the church was locked. Church administrator, Billy Williams, said:
"Loss of life anywhere is pretty tragic, but just to think that an hour and a half earlier we had 70 people in the church [at a midday service]. But by the time he came through, all doors were locked, and there were probably eight or 10 still in the building."
Bush gave up trying to gain entrance to the church, and walked a short distance to a Kroger grocery store. He allegedly shot and killed two black adults: Maurice Stallard, 69 in the store, and Vickie Jones, 67 in the store's parking lot. Ed Harrell happened to be in the parking lot and had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Harrell called out, asking what was going on. Bush allegedly replied:
"Don't shoot me. I won't shoot you. Whites don't shoot whites."
The two exchanged gunfire. Nobody was injured in the exchange. Bush then fled from the scene but was quickly arrested nearby by police.
CNN reported that "there was no known motive, and Rogers said the victims appeared to be shot at random." Apparently, they were all strangers to each other.
Russell M. Coleman, the US attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, issued a statement on OCT-26, saying:
"Our hearts break for the families of the those we lost to the tragedy at the Jeffersontown Kroger. The murders are not being taken lightly by the United States government. Federal investigators are supporting local law enforcement and examining this matter from the perspective of federal criminal law, which includes potential civil rights violations such as hate crimes."
Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf said the city is mourning what he called:
"Senseless violence. ... The sense of family here prevails beyond a single home and is embraced throughout our neighborhoods, businesses and schools. We are kindred spirits no matter our walk of life or how we worship or what we look like. We take pride in that." 4,5,6
On NOV-15, a federal grand jury handed down hate crime charges against the suspect Gregory Bush. There are six charges:
- Two counts of shooting or killing a victim based on race or color.
- One count of attempting to shoot or kill a victim based on race or color.
- Three firearms offenses.
If convicted, he could be sentenced with life in prison without parole. The authorities may seek the death penalty.
Russell M. Coleman, the United States attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, said at a news conference:
"There is no place, no place, for hate-fueled violence in this community and no place in this commonwealth." at a Thursday afternoon .
2018-OCT-27: Pennsylvania Synagogue mass shooting. 11 fatalities:
The worst anti-semitic attack in U.S. history -- so far.
Back in 2018-JUL, Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers of the The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA wrote an essay titled "We Deserve Better" in which he commented on recent school shootings in the U.S.:
"Despite continuous calls for sensible gun control and mental health care, our elected leaders in Washington knew that it could fade away at any time. Unless there is a dramatic turnaround in the mid-term elections, I fear that the status quo will remain unchanged and school shootings will resume. ... I shouldn’t have to include in my daily morning prayers that God should watch over my wife and daughter, both teachers, and keep them safe. Where are our leaders?" 7
His worst fears materialized a few months later on OCT-27 with a mass murder. It did not occur in a local school, but in Rabbi Myers' own synagogue.
Robert Bowers, 46, armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle -- the favorite weapon of mass murderers -- and three handguns, allegedly entered the synagogue just before 10:00 hrs, while services were in progress. He shouted "All Jews must die." He then executed 11 worshipers, apparently at random.
The victims were: Joyce Fienberg, 75;
Richard Gottfried, 65;
Rose Mallinger, 97;
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66;
Cecil Rosenthal, 59;
David Rosenthal, 54;
Bernice Simon, 84;
Sylvan Simon, 86;
Daniel Stein, 71;
Melvin Wax, 88; and
Irving Younger, 69. 9
Two other members of the synagogue were wounded and were in critical condition. According to CNN, he shouted anti-Jewish slurs while firing his weapons. Bowers then left the building, and was met by police. He was wounded either by the police or a by self-inflicted gunshot, and was arrested. During the firefight, four police officers were also wounded.
Before this incident, he was unknown to local police.
According to Ishaan Tharoor, writing for "Today's Worldview," the Washington Post's daily newsletter, Bowers':
"... last message [was posted] on a website [Gab.com, that is] popular among the far right. [He] accused liberal Jews of enabling caravans of migrant 'invaders' to enter the United States. 'I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered.' Bowers is believed to have written [it] just hours before he went on his murderous rampage."
The website is "Gab." It resembles Twitter, but with fewer restrictions on content. Gab has been called an alternate outlet for:
"... far-right figures and conspiracy theorists who have been banned from other social networks." 8
On Gab, he allegedly called Jews: "the children of Satan," "an infestation," "filthy," and "evil."
He had allegedly posted a note to a social media web site shortly before entering the synagogue saying that a Jewish immigrant aid group HIAS [the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society]:
"... likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. ... Screw your optics, I’m going in." 9
Pittsburgh’s public safety director, Wendell Hissrich, said of the shootings in his city:
"These incidents usually occur in other cities. Today the nightmare has hit home here in the city of Pittsburgh." 10
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Rebecca Joseph, "Cesar Sayoc arrested in U.S. pipe bomb investigation, faces up to 48 years in prison," Global News, 2018-OCT-26, at: https://globalnews.ca/
- Senator Cory Booker, tweet, 2018-OCT-26, at: https://twitter.com/
- Sarahbeth Caplin, "Mail Bomb Suspect’s Boss: He Told Me “Jesus Made a Mistake” Because I’m Lesbian," The Friendly Atheist, 2018-OCT-27, at: www.friendlyatheist.patheos.com/
- Jason Riley & Marcus Green, "Accused Kroger shooter has history of mental illness and racist comments," WDRB-TV, 2018-OCT-25, at: http://www.wdrb.com/
- Dylan Lovan, "Hate crime considered in Kentucky grocery store shooting, WSAW-TV, 2018-OCT-26, at: https://www.wsaw.com/
- Janet DiGiacomo, "Kroger shooting leaves 2 people dead in Kentucky," CNN, 2018-OCT-26, at: https://www.cnn.com/
- Jessica Schladebeck, "Rabbi at Pittsburgh synagogue targeted by anti-Semitic shooter called for gun control ahead of violent attack," NY Daily News, 2018-OCT-27, at: http://www.nydailynews.com/
- "Pittsburgh synagogue gunman suspect: Who is Robert Bowers?," BBC News, 2018-OCT-29, at: https://www.bbc.com/
- Ishaan Tharoor, "Right-wing terror and Trump’s nativism ," Washington Post, 2018-OCT-19, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
- Michael Gartland & Larry McShane, et al., "Eleven slaughtered in Pittsburgh synagogue rampage by heavily-armed anti-Semitic gunman," NY Daily News, 2018-OCT-27, at: http://www.nydailynews.com/
How you may have arrived here:
Copyright © Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Author: B.A. Robinson
Originally posted on: 2018-OCT-28
Updated on 2018-NOV-25