Byron Williams attack follows numerous right-wing terrorism incidents in recent years
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As journalist John Hamilton wrote, Byron Williams was arrested after he allegedly opened fire on California Highway Patrol officers. Williams reportedly told investigators that "his intention was to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU." Williams' alleged actions follow numerous right-wing terrorism attacks in past years.
Tennessee church shooter Jim David Adkisson
In February 2009, Jim David Adkisson was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of two and the wounding of six others at a Tennessee church in July 2008.
Adkisson targeted church because he hated liberal politics. As the Associated Press noted when he was sentenced, Adkisson attacked the church "because he hated its liberal politics. ... Assistant District Attorney Leslie Nassios said Adkisson gave a statement to police and left a suicide note. They showed he planned the attack on the church, where his ex-wife was once a member, because he hated the church's liberal politics and Democrats, whom he believed 'were responsible for his woes.' The Unitarian Universalist church promotes progressive social work, including advocacy of women and gay rights."
Adkisson: "Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate and House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book." The Knoxville News Sentinel reported on February 9, 2009, of a piece of writing from Adkisson stating his rationale for the shooting:
"This was a symbolic killing," Adkisson wrote. "Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate and House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the mainstream media. But I knew these people were inaccessible to me.
"I couldn't get to the generals and high-ranking officers of the Marxist movement so I went after the foot soldiers, the chicken (expletive) liberals that vote in these traitorous people."
Goldberg, a former CBS News correspondent, wrote a book titled "100 People Who Are Screwing Up America: (and Al Franken Is #37)" that includes many left-leaning public figures but also includes people such as right-wing talk radio host Michael Savage, citing his anti-gay sentiments, and Roy Moore, the former Alabama justice removed from the bench for refusing to take down a monument to the Ten Commandments.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported on July 29, 2008, that Knoxville Police Department Investigator Steve Still "seized three books from Adkisson's home, including 'The O'Reilly Factor,' by television commentator Bill O'Reilly; 'Liberalism is a Mental Disorder,' by radio personality Michael Savage; and 'Let Freedom Ring,' by political pundit Sean Hannity."
Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols
In December 2007, Timothy McVeigh was executed for killing 168 people in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
McVeigh's anti-government views. CNN noted that McVeigh was angered at the government because he believed they were trying to take away his rights and weapons:
McVeigh began a life of wandering from state to state, buying and selling weapons on the gun-show circuit and preaching a message of the evils of government. He spent time with old Army buddies -- Terry Nichols in rural Michigan and Michael Fortier, who lived near Kingman, Arizona. All three shared a bond of the love of guns and anger at a government they believed was trying to take away their rights and weapons.
In the summer of 1992, the FBI went after white separatist Randy Weaver on charges of selling illegal sawed-off shotguns. During a standoff at Weaver's cabin in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, his wife and son were killed. The incident would become a rallying point for McVeigh and others immersed in the militia movement.
The next year, federal agents zeroed in on the compound of a religious group known as the Branch Davidians, ordering leader David Koresh to surrender to charges of harboring illegal weapons. McVeigh traveled to Waco, Texas, to protest the government's prolonged siege on the compound. After a few days, he left the scene. But McVeigh watched on television April 19, 1993, as the standoff culminated in a firestorm. Dozens of Branch Davidians were killed, including children.
After years of growing outrage, McVeigh told his biographers that he began meticulously planning the bombing of a federal facility, deciding on the Murrah Building because its location would provide excellent camera angles for media coverage of the event. He alone was responsible for the bombing, McVeigh asserted to the authors, adding that he wanted to get caught to give a platform for his anti-government message. For McVeigh, the act was not a crime but a soldier's mission.
Terry Nichols is "serving life sentences at the nation's highest-security federal prison, in Florence, Colo., for his role in the deadly 1995 bombing."
Nichols' anti-government views. The New York Times reported of Nichols' views in 1995:
Mr. McVeigh was 10 when his parents first split up; Mr. Nichols was 18. Mr. McVeigh's father was an auto worker; Mr. Nichols's father was a farmer who moonlighted on the auto assembly lines of Flint, Mich.
There was something else they shared, too: a profound distrust of their Government. Before enlisting, according to his former wife and acquaintances, Mr. Nichols was a reader of survivalist magazines who stockpiled his own food in the event of nuclear war and kept his savings in gold and silver bullion. Mr. McVeigh had a passion for guns and an intensity that was fueled by extreme-right and survivalist literature he began reading in the Army.
Three years after leaving the Army, Mr. Nichols tried to renounce his citizenship, and, in a letter to a county clerk in Michigan, returned his voter registration card, saying that "the entire political system from the local government on up thru and including the President of the United States, George Bush," was corrupt. He declared himself "a nonresident alien, non-foreigner, stranger to the current state of the forum," using language of the extreme right that some trace to the movement known as the Posse Comitatus.
Bomber Eric Robert Rudolph
Rudolph's anti-abortion, anti-gay views. CNN reported that Rudolph was angered about "the legalization of abortion and 'aberrant sexual behavior'" in America:
Revealing his motives for the first time, Eric Robert Rudolph blames the death and violence behind the four bombings he's confessed to in Georgia and Alabama on the legalization of abortion and "aberrant sexual behavior."
The attacks, which occurred between 1996 and 1998, killed two people and wounded more than 110 people.
Rudolph issued a rambling 11-page statement Wednesday after pleading guilty in Alabama and Georgia, declaring: "Abortion is murder. And when the regime in Washington legalized, sanctioned and legitimized this practice, they forfeited their legitimacy and moral authority to govern."
Two attacks involved women's clinics: one in the Atlanta, Georgia, suburb of Sandy Springs in January 1997; the other in Birmingham, Alabama in January 1998.
Six people were wounded in the Sandy Springs blast.
Rudolph also bombed a lesbian nightclub in Atlanta in February 1997, an attack in which five people were wounded.
In his statement Wednesday, he said that while homosexuality does not pose a threat when kept in private, the "attempt to force society to accept and recognize this behavior" should be met with "force if necessary."
Rudolph also shed light on his intentions regarding the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. He called it an opportunity to shame the United States for its legalization of abortion. He said his goal was to knock out Atlanta's power grid and shut down the Olympics.
Alleged Pittsburgh shooter Richard Poplawski
Richard Poplawski is awaiting trial on charges that he murdered three Pittsburgh police officers during a shootout in April 2009.
Poplawski's friend: He feared purported Obama gun ban. WTAE Pittsburgh reported on April 4, 2009:
[Childhood friend Edward] Perkovic said Poplawski feared "the Obama gun ban that's on the way" and "didn't like our rights being infringed upon."
"He wasn't involved in any gangs, any militias. He believed in his right to bear arms. He believed that hard economic times were going to put forward gun bans," Perkovic said.
Poplawski's mother also said her son has been "stockpiling guns and ammunition, buying and selling the weapons online because he believed that as a result of economic collapse, the police were no longer able to protect society."
According to the criminal complaint, Poplawski's mother said her son "only liked police when they were not curtailing his constitutional rights, which he was determined to protect."
Poplawski friend: "Rich, like myself, loved Glenn Beck." Media Matters' Will Bunch reported of Poplawki's views:
"Rich, like myself, loved Glenn Beck," Poplawski's best friend Eddie Perkovic told me during a long interview in his narrow rowhouse on the steep hill running down to the Allegheny. (Perkovic had a lot of time -- he was wearing an ankle bracelet for house arrest because of an unrelated case.) Perkovic and his mom -- who also had a close relationship with the accused cop-killer, still awaiting trial -- told me that for months Poplawski had been obsessed with an idea -- frequently discussed by Beck, including in ads for his sponsor Food Insurance -- of the need to stockpile food and even toilet paper for a societal breakdown. Poplawski was also convinced that paper money would become worthless -- another claim given credence by the Fox News Channel host, particularly in close connection with his frequent shilling for the now-under-investigation gold-coin peddler Goldline International.
And there was another idea that not only worried Poplawski but which Perkovic and his mom still swore by in January 2010 -- despite widespread debunkings in the mainstream media -- that the government had established a gulag of what Perkovic called "Guantanamo camps" here in the United States, for the purpose of arresting and detaining law-abiding Americans. This was the idea that Beck famously declared on FNC on March 3, 2009, or one month and one day before the shootings, that "I can't debunk." Poplawski downloaded to the Web a video of Beck glibly discussing the possibility of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, abusing its powers with a U.S. Congressman, Ron Paul of Texas. Poplawski's mother later said in a sworn statement that her son "liked police when they were not curtailing his constitutional rights." By then, Officers Eric Guy Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo II were already dead.
In his book The Backlash, Bunch reported of Poplawski's belief in the FEMA camps conspiracy and its connection back to Glenn Beck:
Pamela Perkovic, who has black curly hair and is wearing a baggy sweatshirt, occasionally chides her son's more way-out statements but is nonetheless a big believer in the "FEMA camps," which she's read about on the Internet and heard about on the radio, and she also remembers hearing Glenn Beck confirm their existence. "Oh yeah, we did see the little thing - but I wasn't paying that much attention at the time - but yes, there was a thing on Glenn Beck about the camps - and they're there and we know they're there."
"Rich was ... you know, he really felt strongly about these camps - that people better watch out," Eddie added. "He saw it on Glenn Beck, too." Actually, it had already been reported in the media that Poplawski, exactly one month before the killings, was clearly familiar with Glenn Beck's back-and-forth on the "FEMA camps"; he'd even posted online a YouTube clip of Beck interviewing Representative Ron Paul that night of March 3, the same day as his Fox and Friends appearance. The interview is a classic example of how both Beck and presidential wannabe Paul are masters of the new paranoid style. Both men sort of denied the camps but sort of didn't; Paul, the national political figure, told Beck, "So in some ways, they [FEMA] can accomplish what you might be thinking about, about setting up camps, and they don't necessarily have to have legislation, you know, to do the things that we dread. But it is something that deserves a lot of attention." [Pages 269-270]
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Poplawski "turned to" conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' website and Stormfront.org. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on April 5, 2009:
Believing most media were covering up important events, Mr. Poplawski turned to a far-right conspiracy Web site run by Alex Jones, a self-described documentarian with roots going back to the extremist militia movement of the early 1990s.
Around the same time, he joined Florida-based Stormfront, which has long been a clearinghouse Web site for far-right groups. He posted photographs of his tattoo, an eagle spread across his chest.
"I was considering gettin' life runes on the outside of my calfs," he wrote. Life runes are a common symbol among white supremacists, notably followers of The National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group linked to an array of violent organizations.
"For some time now there has been a pretty good connection between being sucked into this conspiracy world and propagating violence," said Heidi Beirich, director of research at the Southern Poverty Law Center and an expert on political extremists. She called Mr. Poplawski's act, "a classic example of what happens when you start buying all this conspiracy stuff."
George Tiller murderer Scott Roeder
On April 1, Scott Roeder was sentenced to life in prison for killing Kansas abortion provider George Tiller in May 2009.
Roeder: Anti-abortion activist. As CNN reported, Roeder justified his killings in court because he said he was "protecting the unborn:"
"The blood of babies is in your hands," Roeder said as he was escorted from a Wichita, Kansas, courtroom on Thursday evening, referring to the district attorney who prosecuted him.
Speaking before his sentencing, Roeder blasted Tiller, quoted the Bible at length and argued the slaying was justified because he was protecting the unborn.
"You have the power to acquit and if you were to obey the higher power, God himself, you would acquit me," Roeder told the judge, Warren Wilbert, before the sentence was handed down.
The Washington Post wrote of Roeder's anti-abortion background:
Internet postings: A person identifying himself as "Scott Roeder" posted messages on several antiabortion sites, including ChargeTiller.com. In 2007, the person wrote on the site: "It seems as though what is happening in Kansas could be compared to the 'lawlessness' which is spoken of in the Bible. Tiller is the concentration camp 'Mengele' of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgement upon our nation."
That year, Roeder's name appeared on an Operation Rescue message board that said: "Bleass [sic] everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp. Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tillers church (inside, not just outside) to have much more of a presence and possibly ask questions of the Pastor, Deacons, Elders and members while there? Doesn't seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller."
Roeder's anti-government views. The Washington Post wrote of Roeder's views:
Criminal background: Roeder was convicted of criminal use of explosives in 1996. His car was stopped in Shawnee County, Kan., because he did not have a valid license plate, only a tag stating that he was a "sovereign" citizen and "immune from the law." Police searched the car and reportedly found bomb components in the trunk. In an interview with the Topeka Capital-Journal in connection with the arrest, his father said Roeder was a member of the Montana Freemen, an anti-government group. Roeder traveled to Montana to train with the group and taught a class while he was there, his father said. Roeder was sentenced to 16 months in June 1996 and discharged in March 1998. His conviction was overturned in 1998.
Holocaust museum shooter James Von Brunn
James W. Von Brunn attacked the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in June 2009, killing one. Von Brunn died in federal custody in January.
Von Brunn's white supremacist views. The Anti-Defamation League wrote of Von Brunn's white supremacist and anti-Semitic views:
In the years before the Museum shooting, Von Brunn was most active as an anti-Semitic propagandist. Age had not dampened his racist and anti-Jewish passions. In the early 2000s, Von Brunn even created his own Web site, the Holy Western Empire site, which he used primarily to market his self-published anti-Semitic book.
Von Brunn's anti-Semitism was motivated in part by a nearly life-long conviction that Jews were persecuting him, from hurting his career to burning his house down. "Over my years of adversity," he claimed, "It became clear to me that a JEW strategy had emerged: 'Kill the Best Gentiles!'"
In essays and comments posted to the Web, Von Brunn extended those sentiments about Jewish persecution from himself to the entire United States. "America at the Brink of Extinction" was the title of one such diatribe in 2007, in which Von Brunn informed readers that "historically, JEWS always stab their host-nation in the back while the host is experiencing internal difficulties," and claimed that "JEWS have AMERICA in their grip....The elimination process is now taking place."
In another essay that same year, he told Americans what to do: "It's up to you. Stop talking. Organize. Take action. Targets swarm across the landscape. You know their murderous intent, you know who they are. DO IT." It was not the first time Von Brunn had expressed such sentiments. In 2004, in an issue of the white supremacist newspaper WAR, Von Brunn went so far as to issue a "Declaration of War against Jewry," in which he declared war on "the Jew race" and its "institutions, holdings, and resources."
Von Brunn had previously spent six years in prison for attempting to take people hostage at the Federal Reserve in 1981.
Von Brunn: Make Obama's birth certificate public. As TPM Muckraker reported, Von Brunn "also wrote an internet posting complaining that Obama's birth certificate and other documents have not been made public."
Von Brunn wanted to assassinate WH adviser David Axelrod. TIME reported on September 30 that "Von Brunn, authoritative sources say, had another target in mind: White House senior adviser David Axelrod, a man at the center of Obama's circle. The President was too hard to reach, in Von Brunn's view, but that was of no consequence. 'Obama was created by Jews,' he wrote. 'Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do.'"
Van Brunn's other reported potential targets. Salon.com wrote that "Politico's Ben Smith reports that the [Weekly] Standard, a conservative magazine founded by Bill Kristol, got a visit from FBI agents yesterday, and that the agents told staffers they'd found the office address on a piece of paper 'associated with' Von Brunn. Separately, a Fox affiliate reports that during a search of Von Brunn's car, law enforcement found a notebook that contained information about 'six to nine locations in the D.C. area,' including what's described only as 'a Fox News location,' the White House, the Capitol, the Washington Post and, of course, the Holocaust Museum."