LOGISTICAL SUPPORT TO VIOLENT ACTORS While some individuals appear clearly to act alone, many others do depend significantly on a larger movement structure. According to some experts like Zeskind, the actions of lone individuals should be treated as exceptions to a more general rule. Moore agrees: “They all have to have some kind of support. It may not rise to the level of a legal conspiracy, but I think there are very few individuals that would be able to carry it off totally independently without telling anybody. After all, they’re only human and they all want some degree of recognition and acknowledgement for their actions.” Blanchard sees things differently. John Salvi, who shot and killed two workers at separate clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts in December 1994, does not appear to have had any logistical support. Similarly, although Buford Furrow was associated with the Aryan Nations, there was no evidence to suggest that anyone else was involved in planning and carrying out his attack. In contrast, activists like Shelley Shannon or the Kehoe brothers relied on networks of key supporters for all kinds of logistical assistance. Regardless of any disagreement about the degree to which violent actors receive tangible logistical support from the larger movement, all the experts consulted here concur that the moral and political support provided by like-minded activists is critically important. “A community of co-thinkers is necessary to motivate and mobilize violent actors,” according to Zeskind. Thomas cites the White Rose banquet events as providing essential support to those in prison and legitimizing violent actions in the eyes of anyone wanting to follow in their footsteps. “The `Wanted Posters’ and Internet sites such as the ‘Nuremberg Files,’ which listed personal information about more than 200 doctors and clinic employees around the country, along with calls for the ‘baby butchers to be brought to justice,’ ratcheted up the rhetoric to a higher level that may have given direction to those who wanted to commit violence,” says Thomas. According to Saporta and Lau, the violent wing of the anti-abortion movement has an extensive and elaborate network of public supporters who channel financial and moral support to perpetrators and their families. They concur with Thomas’ assessment that Internet and newsletter advocacy, as well as public events such as the White Rose banquet, serve as effective vehicles to not only support those convicted of crimes, but to recruit and encourage others to follow in their footsteps. Along with an increasing focus on clandestine activities since September 11, Potok believes that activists
planning violent attacks are less inclined to connect themselves to a larger group. “The fact is it is a scary world out there for many of them ever since 9/11. And it seems perfectly obvious to many people that if you are connected to a group that is espousing violence, you are likely to be investigated.” Other experts observed that violent actors might get support from people in the movement who do not necessarily know what they have done. If one is going to ask how much logistical support violent actors receive from the movement, it is equally important to inquire about what support the larger movement received from these violent actors. And the answer, in the case of those Christian Identity inspired activists within the white supremacist and neo-Nazi movement, is quite a lot. When the Order executed its armored car robbery in Ukiah, California, in July 1984 and netted $3.6 million, nearly all of the money was distributed to a wide range of neo-Nazi groups and never recovered. The Order also created its own support network of safe houses and logistical systems specifically because they feared that relying on people outside their group would be more likely to get them caught. Richard Wayne Snell, the Kehoe brothers, and the racist partisans of the “Aryan Republican Army”—who were responsible for 22 bank robberies in the Midwest during 1994 and 1995 as part of their plan to overthrow the U.S. government, exterminate Jews, and establish an Aryan state in North America—all participated in campaigns of robbery, delivering cash or weapons to other sectors of the movement. While these and others like them received different levels of support from the movement, it is clear that many of these relationships operated to mutual benefit, with resources flowing in both directions.
PITFALLS IN COUNTERING RELIGIOUSLY BASED VIOLENCE Collusion or Permissiveness by Local Officials Unlike white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups who rarely, if ever, are welcomed by major city officials, there have been numerous instances when abortion opponents were encouraged by mayors and other local officials to organize major protests despite the certainty of illegal activity that had the potential to escalate into violence. This occurred most often in religiously conservative communities where sympathetic judges and law enforcement authorities often failed to enforce state or local laws, despite blatantly illegal protest activities. And in a variety of cases, local judges even went so far as to acquit those accused of breaking the law by accepting their
Published on Jul 23, 2010