The United States continues to grapple with an ongoing epidemic of gun violence that one Florida man threatened recently to take to yet another new extreme. That man — 26-year-old Richard Clayton — posted a threat on Facebook three days after a similar incident at an El Paso Walmart that he would soon take on one of the chain’s local establishments with an assault rifle. Although the threat sparking his arrest doesn’t appear to have contained explicit white supremacist rhetoric, Florida authorities say that it’s apparent that the ideology was motivating his actions. He’s been charged with intimidation through a written threat.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement shared:
‘Clayton appears to believe in the white supremacist ideology and has a history of posting threats on Facebook using fictitious accounts.’
Although according to authorities, he wasn’t even on probation, on August 6 Clayton reportedly posted on Facebook:
‘3 more days of probation left then I get my AR-15 back. Don’t go to Walmart next week.’
Clayton has thereby joined a growing list of recent white supremacy-related arrests. Last weekend, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius stormed a Walmart in the immigrant community of El Paso, Texas, where he shot some 50 people, 22 of whom were killed. He then left the store and was apprehended by police at an intersection nearby, where he turned himself over. He eventually confessed to police — after waving his Miranda rights to keep quiet, notably enough — that he had been targeting “Mexicans.” He lived some 10 hours away from the southern border area where El Paso is situated, and in the time before his attack, apparently posted an angry manifesto online with the exact same anti-immigrant rhetoric that President Donald Trump himself has used.
Also in recent days, 23-year-old Conor Climo of the Las Vegas area was arrested for “allegedly possessing bomb-making materials and espousing neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideology” in conversation with an undercover FBI agent online, who helped reveal that he was planning on fire-bombing a local synagogue and carrying out a mass shooting at a gay nightclub, like the one that rocked Orlando, Florida, in 2016 and left 49 people dead.
Trump has failed to rise to any sort of concrete denunciation of the ideology underlying all of this behavior. Although he offered prepared remarks in the wake of the El Paso shooting about the need for the “nation” to condemn white supremacy, in the coming days he freely recommitted himself to the anti-immigrant lies used as excuses by the El Paso shooter for his atrocities, maintaining an air of public willful ignorance of the connection.
Nevertheless, the threat continues. The Anti-Defamation League has shared that every single extremism-sparked death in 2018 in the United States had some kind of tie to the right wing ideologies like those espoused by these attackers. Recently during Congressional testimony, FBI Director Christopher Wray added that a significant portion of recent domestic terrorism arrests have been for white supremacy-related activities. The fact that Trump continues to push their favorite rhetoric all the same gives the upcoming 2020 presidential election an existential component.
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