As is well known by now, back in early August, thousands of white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the city’s plans to remove a statue honoring the slaveholding, notable racist Confederate General Robert E. Lee. In the weekend of violence that ensued, three people died, including one counterprotester who was intentionally mowed down by a white supremacist’s vehicle.
In what’s probably the most high profile gathering of those interests that gathered in Charlottesville since August, white nationalist leader Richard Spencer appeared Thursday at the University of Florida to deliver a speech. Unsurprisingly, a large protest presence rose up against him, and it’s now come out that one of Spencer’s supporters tried to kill one of these protesters. The shooter and his two companions have now been arrested and charged with attempted homicide.
None of the three men arrested are apparently even from the Gainesville, Florida, area where the University of Florida is located. Rather, they are all from Texas; they were arrested about twenty miles north of Gainesville late Thursday, according to a statement from the local police department, although it’s not immediately clear where they were headed when they were captured.
According to police, the encounter between the three Spencer supporters and a group of protesters who had been demonstrating against Spencer’s brand of white nationalism took place shortly before 5:30 PM local time, which is hours after Spencer’s speech had concluded. The three white nationalists — 28 year old Tyler Tenbrink and the two brothers William and Colton Fears, who are 30 and 28 years old, respectively — drove up on a group of protesters at a bus stop and began “offering Nazi salutes and shouting chants about Hitler.”
Tenbrink eventually pulled a handgun on the victims, firing one shot that hit a nearby building before he and the other two white nationalists fled the scene. According to police, ahead of Tenbrink firing the shot, the Fears brothers “encouraged him to shoot at the victims.” Tenbrink, as a convicted felon, faces a charge of possession of a firearm by convicted felon in addition to the attempted murder charge.
As the press release from the local police department notes, law enforcement agencies were still operating under “Unified Command” as a result of the area having been placed under a state of emergency by Florida Gov. Rick Scott ahead of Spencer’s speech. Such allowed for quick identification of the vehicle and possible occupants, according to the Gainesville Police Department. Scott made the state of emergency declaration in anticipation of incidents such as this one taking place.
Will the president condemn the shooter? Probably not. Following the deadly violence in Charlottesville, the president insisted that “both sides” were to blame for what went on, and he stuck by that position even after facing the unsurprising rounds of criticism.
Not any other political group has violence so regularly accompany their gatherings and yet, the president insisted that “fine people” were among the white nationalists marching in Charlottesville, and he is no doubt of the same opinion about this situation, if he even knows about it.
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