Charleston sus­pect tied to racist post

An online di­a­tribe il­lus­trates how its au­thor’s views on race evolved over time.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Joseph Tan­fani, Ti­mothy M. Phelps and Richard A. Ser­rano

CHARLESTON, S.C. — He up­loaded snap­shots of him­self burn­ing the Amer­i­can flag and hold­ing a Con­fed­er­ate one. He railed about blacks tak­ing over neigh­bor­hoods and ru­in­ing the coun­try. In a chill­ing vow, he said he would have to be the one to do some­thing about it.

Dozens of photos and a lengthy man­i­festo, filled with in­vec­tive cribbed from white su­prem­a­cist groups, sur­faced Satur­day on aweb­site linked to Dy­lann Roof, the white man charged with killing nine peo­ple in a his­toric black church.

The site, LastRhodesian.com, de­picts a young man who grew up with­out strong opin­ions on race but later be­came en­thralled with im­ages of the Con­fed­er­acy and driven by a con­vic­tion that he had a duty to help save the white race.

The 2012 shoot­ing death of Trayvon Martin, an un­armed black Florida teenager, ap­par­ently marked a turn­ing point for Roof, fu­el­ing his ob­ses­sion with racial is­sues. The web­site also re­flects the strong in­flu­ence of a white na­tion­al­ist group called the Coun­cil of Conser--

va­tive Cit­i­zens.

One of the photos shows a seated Roof, wear­ing cam­ou­flage pants and hold­ing an au­to­matic pis­tol. In another, he stands shirt­less, slen­der and pale, point­ing the gun at the cam­era.

“To take a say­ing from my fa­vorite film, ‘Even if my life is worth less than a speck of dirt, I want to use it for the good of so­ci­ety,’” said the text on the web­site, which has been taken down. Roof ap­par­ently was re­fer­ring to the 2011 Ja­panese movie “Himizu”— the story, ac­cord­ing to the film site IMDb, of two youths in post-earth­quake Ja­pan who “em­bark on a cam­paign of vi­o­lence against evil-do­ers.”

The text went on: “We have no skin­heads, no real KKK, no one do­ing any­thing but talk­ing on the in­ter­net. Well some­one has to have the brav­ery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”

As a more de­tailed pic­ture of Roof, 21, emerged, the son of one of the shoot­ing vic­tims said Roof had tried to kill him­self as well in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on Wed­nes­day night.

“He pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trig­ger, but it went click,” be­cause the cham­ber was empty, said Kevin Sin­gle­ton. His­mother, 59-year-old Myra Thompson, was one of those killed.

“His plan was never to leave that church,” Sin­gle­ton said. Sin­gle­ton said he and his fam­ily were told the story by Polly Shep­pard, 69, one of two adult sur­vivors of the mas­sacre.

A woman who an­swered the tele­phone at Shep­pard’s house Satur­day re­fused to com­ment.

Sin­gle­ton said that it ap­peared Roof’s orig­i­nal in­tent was to kill Emanuel’s well-known min­is­ter, the Rev. Cle­menta Pinck­ney, whowas the first one shot.

But when the Rev. Daniel Sim­mons, 74 and re­tired, grap­pled with Roof, he un­loaded on Sim­mons and the oth­ers who died, Sin­gle­ton said.

Roof is fac­ing nine mur­der charges in the rampage at one of the old­est and most prom­i­nent black churches in the South. Ac­cord­ing to the charg­ing doc­u­ments and wit­ness state­ments, he sat with oth­ers in a Bi­ble study group for nearly an hour be­fore tak­ing out a Glock .45 and killing the six women and three men.

An un­em­ployed ninth graded rop out liv­ing in a piney scrub cross­roads called Eas­tover in cen­tral South Carolina, Roof re­port­edly took a re­cent turn into vir­u­lent racism. In a widely cir­cu­lated Face­book photo, he is wear­ing a jacket with the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhode­sia, the for­mer name of the African na­tion of Zim­babwe when it was run by a white mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment.

The photo, and most oth­ers on LastRhodesian.com, shows Roof with the same

hair­cut and blank ex­pres­sion. He looks hap­pi­est out­side a Con­fed­er­ate mu­seum. Also in­cluded are shots taken in­side a ceme­tery for Con­fed­er­ate sol­diers and one close-up of a Glock and seven rounds.

A re­port from Do­mainTools.com, which tracks own­er­ship of In­ter­net sites, said the site was reg­is­tered in Fe­bru­ary in Roof’s name, us­ing his ad­dress in Eas­tover.

A fed­eral law en­force­ment of­fi­cial said Satur­day that author­i­ties be­lieved the web­site was gen­uine but were un­sure whether Roof had sole con­trol over it. They are re­view­ing the mat­ter to de­ter­mine whether some­one as­sisted him in build­ing and main­tain­ing the site, and whether some­one took the pho­to­graphs for him or if he used a cam­era timer, the of­fi­cial said.

In the un­signed man­i­festo, the writer says he was not raised “in a racist home or en­vi­ron­ment.”

“Grow­ing up, in school, the white and black kids would make racial jokes to­ward each other, but they were all jokes. … The event that truly awak­ened me was the Trayvon Martin case.”

Af­ter the slay­ing, the man­i­festo said, the writer went to the web­site of the Coun­cil of Con­ser­va­tive Cit­i­zens and “re­al­ized that some­thing was very wrong,” be­cause black-on-white crime was be­ing ig­nored.

Martin was killed on Feb. 26, 2012, in San­ford, Fla., by Ge­orge Zim­mer­man, a for­mer neigh­bor­hood watch vol­un­teer who was ac­quit­ted of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in July 2013 af­ter a racially charged trial.

Richard Co­hen, pres­i­dent of the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter, which tracks hate groups, said Satur­day that­much of the lan­guage in the man­i­festo was ma­te­rial lifted from the CCC, which he called a “mod­ern rein­car­na­tion” of the old White Cit­i­zens’ Coun­cils that in the 1950s and ’60s re­sisted school de­seg­re­ga­tion in the South.

“The CCC is very ac­tive in Roof’s home state of South Carolina,” Co­hen said. He added, “It seems the CCC media strat­egy was suc­cess­ful in re­cruit­ing Roof into the rad­i­cal right.”

He iden­ti­fied the CCC’s web­mas­ter as white na­tion­al­ist Kyle Rogers, who lives in Sum­merville, a Charleston sub­urb. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port on the web­site, the In­ter­net-savvy Rogers trained as a com­puter engi­neer and moved to South Carolina in 2004.

The CCC’s web­site also rails against im­mi­grants in the coun­try il­le­gally, de­fends the Con­fed­er­ate bat­tle flag fly­ing at the South Carolina Capi­tol and in 2011 pushed for a boy­cott of the movie “Thor” be­cause it cast Idris Elba, a black ac­tor, as a Norse god.

Co­hen said Rogers had been push­ing to bring at­ten­tion to what he calls black-on-white crime, par­tic­u­larly af­ter the Trayvon Martin shoot­ing.

“It’s a sta­ple of Rogers and the CCC’s media plan,” Co­hen said.

Rogers also man­ages a flag store, which sells the flag of the gov­ern­ment of Rhode­sia, Co­hen said. At­tempts to reach Rogers for com­ment were un­suc­cess bowl ful.

Rogers has lived in a tan brick ranch house on a tree­lined street in Sum­merville for sev­eral years, a neigh­bor said there Satur­day, adding that he mows his own lawn and hosts few visi­tors.

The neigh­bor, Her­man Bradley, 75, a re­tired postal worker and Army vet­eran, said Rogers ran a mail or­der busi­ness out of his home, selling ban­ners and flags.

The text on LastRhodesian.com, which also at­tacks Jews and Lati­nos, con­tains few per­sonal de­tails. It’s mostly filled with ar­gu­ments about white su­pe­ri­or­ity. Stud­ded with racial ep­i­thets and a tone of bit­ter re­sent­ment, it ar­gues that whites— the word is al­ways cap­i­tal­ized — are treated un­fairly.

“And who is fight­ing for him? Who is fight­ing for these White peo­ple forced by eco­nomic cir­cum­stances to live among ne­groes? No one, but some­one has to.”

It ar­gues that there is still time to save Amer­ica and the South. “Some peo­ple feel as though the South is be­yond sav­ing, that we have too many blacks here. To this I say look at history. The South had a higher ra­tio of blacks when we were hold­ing them as slaves,” the man­i­festo said.

The writer said he picked Charleston — it doesn’t say for what—“be­cause it is the most his­toric city in my state, and at one time had the high­est ra­tio of blacks to Whites in the coun­try.”

The writer con­cludes by apol­o­giz­ing for ty­pos.

“Un­for­tu­nately at the time of writ­ing I am in a great hurry and some of my best thoughts, ac­tu­ally many of them have been to be left out and lost for­ever.”

A PHOTO from the web­site LastRhodesian.com shows Dy­lann Roof, the church shoot­ing sus­pect.

A PHOTO from what ap­pears to be Dy­lann Roof’s web­site. The Trayvon Martin killing ap­par­ently fu­eled an ob­ses­sion with the Con­fed­er­acy and racial is­sues.

Chuck Bur­ton AP

AN ONLINE post linked to Roof de­clares that white peo­ple are treated un­fairly.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.