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FBI investigating Dylann Roof photos, racist rant found on website

NYT

A federal law enforcement official says the FBI is looking into a website that appears to have photos of the Charleston church shooting suspect holding a Confederate flag, posing with weapons, burning an American flag and visiting Southern historic sites and Confederate soldiers’ graves, along with a racist rant.

A website with a white supremacist manifesto features dozens of photos of Dylann Storm Roof, the man accused of killing nine people at a church in Charleston, posing with weapons, burning an American flag and visiting Southern historic sites and Confederate soldiers’ graves.

It is not clear who wrote the words and who took the pictures, but the manifesto appears to trace the evolution of the author’s racist worldview and concludes with a section labeled “An Explanation.”

“I have no choice,” it reads. “I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. 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.”

The site, the lastrhodesian.com, features an opening photo of a bloodied dead white man on the floor. The picture appears to be a shot from “Romper Stomper,” an Australian movie about neo-Nazis.

The website was first registered on Feb. 9 to a Dylann Roof in Eastover, South Carolina. The next day, the registration information was intentionally masked. The site was discovered by two Twitter users, @henrykrinkle and @EMQuangel, who used a tool to find any domain names registered to Roof. The registration information was then verified by The New York Times.

The site hosts a cache of photos of Roof as well as the manifesto. According to web server logs, the manifesto was last modified at 4:44 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, the day of the Charleston shootings. “At the time of writing I am in a great hurry,” it says.

In one picture, Roof is shown posing with wax figures of slaves. In others, he posed with a handgun that appears to be a .45-caliber Glock. He had a .45-caliber Glock in his car when he was arrested Thursday, the police said.

Roof is alone in all the photos, which appear to have been taken at a slave plantation and at the Museum and Library of Confederate History in Greenville, S.C. He has the same gloomy look in many of the photos, in which no one else is shown, but others depict nature scenes and what appear to be vacation photographs.

Several photos show him with the number 88 or 1488 written in sand. The numbers are well-known white supremacy codes.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s glossary of skinhead terms, “Fourteen stands for the ‘14 words’ slogan coined by David Lane, who is serving a 190-year sentence for his part in the assassination of a Jewish talk show host: ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.’” The letter H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 is a known code for “Heil, Hitler.”

The website’s links contain several passages of long racist rants, saying Hispanics are enemies and “Negroes” have lower IQs and low impulse control. The writings are not signed.

Watchdog groups that track right-wing extremism say the language of the manifesto reflects the rhetoric found in white supremacist forums online and dovetails with what has been said about Roof thus far, including that he had self-radicalized, and that he did not belong to a particular hate group.

“It’s clear that he was extremely receptive to those ideas,” said Mark Pitcavage, the director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “At the same time, he does not have a sophisticated knowledge of white supremacy.”

Roof, 21, from Eastover, near Columbia, is a high school dropout and an unemployed landscaper who is accused of waging a racially motivated rampage at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The manifesto says the writer’s racist inclinations began with the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, a black Florida teenager who was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and was acquitted of a murder charge.

“The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case,” the essay says. “I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words ‘black on White crime' into Google, and I have never been the same since that day.”

The account cites the website of the far-right Council of Conservative Citizens as an influence.

FBI officials said analysts were reviewing the website with the manifesto, and Charles Francis, a spokesman for the Charleston police, said that officials were reviewing questions from reporters about it. “Once we draft a response, we will get it out,” he said.

Francis would not immediately say whether investigators had known about the website.

A friend of Roof’s, Jacob Meek, 15, said the references to the Trayvon Martin case made clear that Roof had written the essay. “That’s his website,” he said. “He wrote it, and I just can tell.”

Benjamin Wareing, a blogger in Britain, said the writings were nearly identical to blog entries that Roof posted several months ago on a Tumblr page. Wareing was preparing to write an essay on the dangers of Tumblr and troubled youths, so he took notes on the writings.

“He just made really stupid but obvious statements about people from other races,” Wareing said in an email. “He would call black citizens ‘nuggets’ and such. He never made direct threats at all on Tumblr, at least it didn’t seem like that, just weird ramblings about how he felt he ‘didn’t fit in.’”

Among his writings were images of Sept. 11 “memes” and of “My Little Pony,” Wareing said.

Roof’s Tumblr had contained photos that matched his Facebook page, but both were taken down after the killings.

The essay uses defamatory terms for blacks, whom he accused of being “stupid and violent” with “the capacity to be very slick.” It laments white flight, and suggested that the whites should instead stay behind in cities and fight.

Criticisms are levied at Hispanics and Jews, but Asians are praised for being racists and potential allies. Whites are unfairly portrayed as all having been slave owners, the essay says. In reality, the author wrote, slavery was not that bad.

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