In this week’s Hate Report: You probably didn’t hear about the gunman who killed three people in a hate-driven attack last week in Colorado. Plus, a roundup of other hate incidents – including one hoax.
Last week, a 47-year-old man allegedly walked into a Walmart north of Denver and shot several shoppers, killing three.
You probably didn’t hear about this shooting, since it happened on the day after a terrorist attack in Manhattan, which killed eight, and a few days before a church shooting in Texas, in which 26 people died. But evidence is growing that Scott Ostrem, the accused shooter, was motivated by his hatred of Latinos.
Numerous media outlets have reported that Ostrem, who is accused of killing three people of Hispanic descent, had long expressed hatred toward the Hispanic community. Ostrem “was very racist towards Hispanics,” one of his neighbors told local media. Another said he was “verbally abusive towards Hispanics.”
In an analysis for the Southern Poverty Law Center, Daryl Johnson, who spent six years as the senior domestic terrorism analyst at the Department of Homeland Security, said the crucial question in the Colorado attack is whether Ostrem “aspired to use his attack to further a larger political or social objective.”
If he did, that would make it an act of terrorism, he writes.
Johnson writes: “For now, only Ostrem knows the intent behind these murders. It’s now up to investigators to explore this question in an attempt to provide answers.”
Elsewhere in the country
• In Wisconsin, a man was charged with a hate crime Monday for allegedly firing a gun at another man in downtown Green Bay, after yelling a racial slur and shouting, “You think you can come here and do whatever you want.” The victim of the attack was unharmed. Taylor W. Hill, 24, faces up to 22 years in prison if convicted.
• In Idaho, someone left a crudely constructed cross draped with parts of a butchered pig outside the Islamic Center of Twin Falls over the weekend. It’s the latest in a series of vandalism attacks on the mosque since 2015, and is being investigated as a hate crime.
• In New York, three 21-year-old men who allegedly defaced a cemetery in Queens, New York, writing racist slurs and possibly smearing one gravestone with human feces, were arraigned on hate crime charges on Monday night. “Even in their eternal rest the dead of Queens County cannot escape from the bigotry and hatred that brews in some people’s hearts,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement.
• In Wichita, Kansas, a devastating fire at a Jordanian restaurant is being investigated as a hate crime after the words ”go back” were found spray-painted at the rear of the building. “It was two words that have a lot of hate in it,” Ranya Taha, who is from Syria and has lived in Wichita for 16 years, told The Wichita Eagle.
• According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2017 just became the deadliest year on record for transgender people. The campaign lists 25 transgender people who have been violently killed so far this year, up from 23 in 2016.
Hate incidents at military school revealed as hoax
This fall, five African American students at U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School in Colorado Springs found racist threats on their dormroom white boards.
The school made a startling announcement this week: The messages were written by one of the African American students who initially purported to be an innocent victim. The student, who has not be publicly identified, is reportedly no longer enrolled.
As reports of hate incidents have spiked over the past year, there’s been an increasing focus on hoax reports. We dove into the topic in March, after it was revealed that a wave of bomb threats directed against Jewish institutions was carried out by an Israeli teenager. You can check out that coverage here.
A racist put in his place
White supremacist Richard Spencer can be a pretty smooth talker. He has become the go-to guy for quotes from America’s racist, white right.
But in a video produced by Britain’s Channel 4 this week, Spencer was put in his place by longtime Guardian columnist Gary Younge, who is black.
Prior to the interview, Younge questions whether he should even do it. “Ordinarily, giving someone like that oxygen is something I think journalists shouldn’t do,” he tells the camera in the lead-up. But he does confront Spencer, resulting in an explosive interview in which Spencer essentially defends slavery, and which Younge eventually terminates by telling Spencer (as the white supremacist drains a glass of what looks like whiskey), “You’re ridiculous, you’re a ridiculous man.”
Other highlights include Younge (who is British) laughing incredulously after Spencer tells him “You’ll never be an Englishman.”
It is well worth watching.
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Have a hate incident to report? Tell us about it here, or contact the Hate Report team: Aaron Sankin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Will Carless can be reached at email@example.com. Follow them on Twitter: @asankin and @willcarless.