The Ravages Of Trump: Violent Attacks Carried Out In His Name

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August 5, 2019 9:58 am
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Send them back. Hispanic invasion. If our country falls, it will be the fault of traitors.

That’s language from the manifesto of Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old suspect in the El Paso shooting on Saturday that left 20 dead.

Take a look at recent rhetoric from the President — urging non-white lawmakers to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came”; claiming that undocumented immigrants “infest” the country; branding Democrats “enemies of the state.”

Crusius does not invoke President Trump in his manifesto, or in social media posts uncovered as of this writing.

But TPM found some two dozen cases where the perpetrators or planners of far-right violence invoked Trump during their assault, or claimed whatever violent action they intended to commit was somehow aligned with his agenda.

Since declaring his run for the Presidency in 2015, President Donald Trump has used racist rhetoric to fan feelings of hatred among those that support him.

And, as the President is set on demonizing immigrants and people of color as a 2020 reelection strategy, the trend could continue.

Brian Levin of Cal State’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism told TPM that he had noticed correlations in the underlying data between certain political events and the levels of hate crimes and their targets.

“We’re concerned that the combination of a very coarse and racially divided political season, along with demographic changes, and all the other things like foreign tensions, domestic tensions, are going to have an impact,” Levin added.

TPM reported this article and finalized it for publication on the Friday before the El Paso shooting occurred. Though the suspect’s manifesto invokes language that Trump has used, calling the massacre a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” the shooter did not invoke Trump himself.

Below is a sample of cases in which the suspect appeared to be inspired by Trump:

Beat up homeless man

Boston brothers Scott and Steven Leader allegedly beat up and urinated on a homeless man of Hispanic descent because they thought he was an undocumented immigrant. Scott Leader reportedly told police that he was inspired by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

In August 2015, two brothers in Boston allegedly beat up and urinated on a homeless man, believing him to be an illegal immigrant. After their arrest, they reportedly told police that “Donald Trump was right” and that “all these illegals need to be deported.” 

Trump did not immediately disavow the attack, calling it “a shame” before adding that “the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country.” 

Or, as the victim of the brothers put it to a sentencing judge in 2015: “I actually became a permanent resident of this country years ago, although if I had been undocumented I still would not have deserved to be beaten this way.”

Attacked person of South Asian descent

Penn State student Nick Tavella attacked a person of South Asian descent in December 2015, grabbing his victim by the throat and threatening to “put a bullet” in him.

In an argument for leniency at sentencing, Tavella’s attorneys argued that he had acted out of “a love of country” and not hatred, telling a judge that “Donald Trump is running for President of the United States saying that, ‘We’ve got to check people out more closely.'” Tavella was sentenced to maximum 2 years incarceration for ethnic intimidation in November 2016. 

Daniel Rowe attacked an interracial couple, telling police afterwards that he was on his way to a Donald Trump rally to beat up Black Lives Matter activists.

Attacked interracial couple

Daniel Rowe attacked an interracial couple in August 2016 after seeing the pair kiss. An African-American man suffered a stab wound to the abdomen in the attack. 

During his arrest, Rowe reportedly confessed to officers that he stabbed the couple, saying “I’m a white supremacist” before saying he wanted to “go to the next Donald Trump rally” and “stomp out” Black Lives Matter protesters. 

Slammed black suspect’s head into door frame

Frank Nucera, the police chief of New Jersey’s Bordentown township, was indicted on federal criminal charges in November 2017 for allegedly committing a hate crime after he slammed a handcuffed, African-American suspect’s head into a metal door frame. 

After the assault, which occurred in September 2016, Nucera was recorded as saying that “Donald Trump is the last hope for white people.” 

Nucera is reportedly fighting the charges to trial. 

Planned to bomb housing with Somali immigrants

In October 2016, the run-up to the presidential election, the FBI charged three Kansas men with attempting to bomb apartment buildings housing Somali immigrants.  

The plotters allegedly intended for the attack to scare non-white immigrants out of the country. In that case, the plot was scheduled for one day after the 2016 election, in order to protect the interests of a candidate that the DOJ did not identify. Researchers found that one of the plotters saw it in these terms:

Patrick Stein posted frequently about supporting Trump. According to federal prosecutors, the point of the thwarted attack was to make “a lot more people in this country wake up and smell the fucking coffee and decide they want this country back.”

During sentencing in October 2018, the three argued for leniency by blaming Trump for “heighten[ing] the rhetorical stakes for people of all political persuasions.”

James Alex Fields, Jr. drove his car into a crowd of anti-racism protestors.

 

Charlottesville protest murder

James Alex Fields, Jr., the Neo-nazi Charlottesville murderer reportedly began to contain previously outspoken Nazi views during the 2016 election season. 

The AP cited a teacher of Fields’ as saying that he “was a big Trump supporter because of what he believed to be Trump’s views on race” and that the President’s “proposal to build a border wall with Mexico was particularly appealing.” 

Parkland school shooting 

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz was part of a private Instagram group where he reportedly “bragged about writing a letter to President Donald Trump – and receiving a response,” and also espoused bigoted views. Cruz had a picture of himself in a MAGA hat on his Instagram profile, but the Miami Herald reported a far more macabre detail: after his pro-gun control mother passed away, Cruz put a MAGA hat in her casket and took a picture. 

“Due to the fact that his mother hated Donald Trump he put it in her casket with her when she died and took a picture of her with the hat,” a police report cited by the Herald quotes a friend of Cruz’s as saying. 

Sent bombs to Trump foes

In this undated photo released by the Broward County Sheriff's office, Cesar Sayoc is seen in a booking photo, in Miami. Federal authorities took Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Fla., into custody Friday in Florida in connection with the mail-bomb scare that earlier widened to 12 suspicious packages, the FBI and Justice Department said. (Broward County Sheriff's Office via AP)
Cesar Sayoc mailed bombs to prominent liberals.

Cesar Sayoc pleaded guilty to several felony charges after he mailed bombs to prominent liberals around the country ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

In an argument for leniency at sentencing, Sayoc’s defense attorneys portrayed him in a July 2019 court filing as a pariah that found meaning in Donald Trump. When Trump’s rhetoric went from being that of self-help books to political and violent in 2015 and 2016, Sayoc supposedly followed suit.

That culminated in the South Florida resident mailing pipe bombs to 13 prominent liberals around the country, supposedly out of a belief that he was protecting Trump.

Opened fire at mosque

Brenton Tarrant, the man accused of killing 51 people at a New Zealand mosque, cited Trump in his manifesto, which included a questionnaire addressed to himself that he released just before allegedly committing the March 2019 massacre. 

“Were/are you a supporter of Donald Trump?” the questionnaire asked.

“As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure,” the document reads. “As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no.” 

Killed mob boss

Anthony Comello killed a Gambino family mob boss while acting under the belief that he had a duty to do so to President Trump.

Anthony Comello, the 24-year old who allegedly killed a mob boss, thought President Trump supported his plan to commit the murder, according to an argument from his defense attorney. 

Comello was a firm believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory, and was supposedly motivated to kill out of a duty to Trump and the theory. 

“Because of his self-perceived status in QAnon, Mr. Comello became certain that he was enjoying the protection of President Trump himself, and that he had the president’s full support,” Comello’s attorney wrote in a court filing noting an attempt to preserve evidence of mental defect. 

Comello allegedly shot Gambino crime family boss Francesco “Franky boy” Cali in March 2019. Comello was obsessed with Fox News, frequently posting about the network. 

Planned to bomb Muslim community

Four upstate New York teens were arrested in January 2019 for allegedly planning to bomb a Muslim community in the state. The plot was discovered after a 16-year old member of the group walked up to a table of classmates at lunch and showed them a picture of a fellow plotter, asking, “He looks like a school shooter doesn’t he?”

One of those alleged to be involved — Vincent Vetromile — posted in support of Trump and his anti-Muslim rhetoric on social media before the attack, including inviting the President to his Eagle scout ceremony. 

Threatened members of Congress 

Scott Brian Haven made escalating death threats to members of Congress, demanding that they stop hindering the President.

Utah resident Scott Brian Haven allegedly called the Capitol more than 2,000 times over the past three years, screaming about Democrats who were supposedly threatening Trump’s Presidency before his June 2019 arrest. 

Federal prosecutors cite one call in May 2019 where Haven said he was about to shoot an unnamed member of Congress “in the head” because “the Russians want him taken out because he is trying to remove a duly elected President.” In another March 2019 call to an unspecified senatorial office, Haven said that he would use his “second Amendment right” against the next “Democrat leadership” member who compared Trump to Hitler.

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