A white supremacist Telegram channel encourages violence in George Floyd protests
- A white supremacist channel on Telegram encouraged its followers to spark violence to start a race war in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, Politico reported, citing an internal Department of Homeland Security memo.
- Citing the FBI, the note said that two days after Floyd's death, the channel "incited followers to engage in violence and start the 'boogaloo' - a term used by some violent extremists to refer to the start of a second Civil War - by shooting in a crowd."
- One of the messages in the channel called for potential shooters to "frame the crowd around you" for the violence, the note said, according to Politico.
- Other media outlets have also reported on white supremacist groups weaponising protests against police brutality to incite violence.
- Meanwhile, several Republican officials, including President Donald Trump, have blamed "antifa" for the violence and some have suggested protesters should be hunted down like terrorists.
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A white supremacist channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram encouraged its followers to spark violence to start a race war during nationwide protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd, Politico reported, citing an internal Department of Homeland Security intelligence note.
Floyd was a 46-year-old black man who died on May 25 after repeatedly saying he could not breathe when a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The DHS note warning of white supremacist linked violence was circulated among law enforcement officials, Politico reported. Citing the FBI, it said that two days after Floyd's death, the channel "incited followers to engage in violence and start the 'boogaloo' - a term used by some violent extremists to refer to the start of a second Civil War - by shooting in a crowd."
One of the messages in the channel called for potential shooters to "frame the crowd around you" for the violence, the note said, according to Politico.
On May 29, the note said, "suspected anarchist extremists and militia extremists allegedly planned to storm and burn the Minnesota State Capitol."
The memo pointed to "previous incidents of domestic terrorists exploiting First Amendment-protected events" as one of the reasons the DHS is keeping an eye out for additional violence by "domestic terrorist actors."
NBC News also reported on Monday that Twitter had identified a group posing as an "antifa" organisation calling for violence in the protests as actually being linked to the white supremacist group Identity Evropa.
Twitter suspended the account, @ANTIFA_US, after it posted a tweet that incited violence. A company spokesperson also told NBC News that the account violated Twitter's rules against platform manipulation and spam.
These developments come as protests against racism and police brutality continue across the country. Peaceful demonstrations have taken place in more than 75 cities, though some have spiraled into chaos and deadly violence as law enforcement officials use heavy-handed crowd control tactics.
Some protests have involved smaller groups looting businesses and, in a few cases, setting fire to buildings and cars.
On Monday evening, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters outside the White House gates in Washington, DC, while President Donald Trump delivered remarks in the Rose Garden saying he was "an ally to all peaceful protesters."
Here is what was happening outside the White House as President Trump was giving his Rose Garden address and saying he is an â€œally of all peaceful protestors.â€ Peaceful protestors being tear gassed outside of the WH gates. I confirmed because I was teargassed along with them. pic.twitter.com/yg0wbSrIXn— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) June 1, 2020
Several social-media posts have shown other instances of violence linked to the demonstrations, including:
- Police cruisers ramming into protesters in New York City.
- Protesters in Denver being hit with a car whose driver was accused of deliberately trying to run someone over.
- Protesters and officers clashing in Chicago.
- A riot in Dallas in which one video appeared to show a can of tear gas being thrown inside a woman's car while she was in it.
- Police in Louisville, Kentucky, spraying pepper bullets at protesters. Officers reportedly also shot them at a reporter and cameraman covering the scene.
Trump and some Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have suggested using violence and deploying the US military to tamp down the demonstrations.
On Monday, a Blackhawk helicopter with US Army markings was seen flying low over Washington, DC, in a "show of force" against protesters. The New York Times reported that the helicopter descended to rooftop level, kicked up dirt and debris, and snapped trees that narrowly missed several people.
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida suggested earlier in the day that protesters demonstrating against police brutality are part of antifa and should be hunted down like terrorists.
"Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?" Gaetz tweeted. Twitter later flagged the post for violating its rules against glorifying violence but left it up because it determined it was in the "public interest" for the tweet to still be accessible, though users cannot like, retweet, or reply to it.
Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas also advocated for using military force against protesters and indicated that they should be shown no mercy.
"We need to have zero tolerance for this destruction," Cotton wrote, calling protesters "Antifa terrorists."
"And, if necessary, the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry - whatever it takes to restore order," he added. "No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters."
"No quarter" is a military term that means a commander will not accept the lawful surrender of an enemy combatant and suggests the captive will instead be killed. The practice is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
Trump also called for forcefully subduing the protesters just before describing himself as an "ally" to peaceful demonstrators.
"If you don't dominate, you're wasting your time," the president said on Monday during a phone call with governors and law-enforcement officials. "They're going to run over you. You're going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate."
At one point, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said, "We have to be careful, but we've got to be tough."
Trump responded: "You don't have to be too careful, and you have to do the prosecutions."
"When someone's throwing a rock, that's like shooting a gun," the president said. "We've had a couple of people badly hurt with no retribution. You have to do retribution, in my opinion. You have to use your own legal system. But if you want this to stop, you have to prosecute people."
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