Blood, Red, MAGA: What We Know About the Parkland Shooting

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“Elliot rodger will not be forgotten.” – Nikolas Cruz

Photo collage from The Daily Beast

UPDATE: Since this article was first released there has been new information that has only further cemented what we know about Nikolas Cruz and his connection to the Alt-Right. Firstly, in an article released from CNN, it was shown that Cruz was part of various groups online where he shared memes and discussed his belief in various Alt-Right ideas, such as that ‘the Jews’ control the world, and boasted about his hatred of blacks, interracial couples, and immigrants. More videos have also come out showing Cruz wearing a red MAGA hat. Lastly, according to authorities, gun magazine clips that had swastikas etched in them were found at the scene of the shooting. While it appears that there is no connection between Cruz and the group the Republic of Florida, it seems clear that Cruz was influenced by, if not actively a part of, the Alt-Right. 

On Valentine’s Day, 19 year old Nikolas Cruz, shot and killed 17 students in the affluent suburb of Parkland, Florida. According to ABC News, today police and FBI gathered outside of the house that Cruz was staying at with a friend and their family. Cruz was adopted, but his adoptive father had passed away in 2005 and his adoptive mother only several months ago, “died a sudden, and very painful death” from the flu. Friends and family that spoke to news outlets about Cruz, describe him as obsessed with guns, known to post racist and right-wing things online, and was abusive to his ex-girlfriend. According to numerous reports, Cruz had been expelled from the Parkland High School campus the year prior, and was reportedly not allowed on campus with a back pack. On social media accounts believed to be linked to Cruz, the alleged shooter made statements against Muslims and also claimed that he wanted to kill police and antifascist protesters.

Most shocking of all however, is that allegation, not verified, that Cruz was connected to and trained with a white nationalist group, the Republic of Florida (ROF), a self-described militia that promotes the violent creation of a white ethno-state. The Republic of Florida has been documented to have links to Matthew Heimbach, appeared at demonstrations along with the League of the South (a part of the Nationalist Front which includes Heimbach), and also had “boots on the ground” in Gainesville, Florida, during Richard Spencer’s recent speaking event at a university campus. While it remains unclear at this point if Cruz was in fact a part of ROF or received training from them, it should be noted that the group has recently encouraged people to read the James Manson book, SIEGE, which calls for lone wolf acts of terrorism, and openly endorsed the idea of violent clandestine actions against non-whites and Jews.

While as of today, law enforcement have not found a connection between the ROF and Cruz, according to multiple students at Cruz’s school, Cruz was involved in the group and was seen with them. Also according to The Daily Beast:

Seven classmates of Cruz told The Daily Beast he expressed extreme political views and disturbing behavior when he attended the high school he is now accused of attacking with a high-powered rifle.

The leader of ROF, Jordan Jereb, gave multiple interviews on the morning of February 15th, claiming that Nikolas was involved in the group, but carried out the shooting autonomously from the organization. Later on Gab, a social media platform similar to Twitter and popular with neo-Nazis and the Alt-Right, Jereb later back tracked on his claims, stating that the group had multiple people within it name “Nicholas,” and that he was unsure if Cruz was in fact involved with ROF. The Southern Poverty Law Center likewise stated that it couldn’t confirm if Cruz was a member of ROF, but noted that Jereb was prone to self-promotion and thrusting himself into any photo-op available.

The connection between the ROF and Cruz was first reported by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), after the group found posts on the Alt-Right and neo-Nazi forum /pol/ on 4chan. 4chan (as well as the much similar 8chan) is an anonymous posting and image board, and includes the infamous /pol/ section that has long been associated with both the Alt-Right, Alt-Lite, and various sections of the pro-Trump subculture.

Historically, /pol/ has worked to both doxx (reveal the personal information) of left-wing activists and antifascists, as well as attempt to spread disinformation about events in order to shift blame onto political opponents. Case in point, posters on 4chan shortly after the Parkland shooting promoted the conspiracy theory that the shooter was in fact an antifascist, using a photo of another person. Growing off of 4chan, these fake claims along with others, made their way onto conspiracy sites such as The Gateway Pundit and InfoWars. While this claim did not pick up in the mainstream, it did receive traction among far-Right and Alt-Right circles, much as similar attempts did in the wake of other mass shootings, from Las Vegas to Silver Springs.

The 4chan thread in question, seen archived here, features several posters that state that Cruz was an ROF member and that he was obsessed with the book, SIEGE, which has long been promoted by the group Atomwaffen, a neo-Nazi organization tied to a string of attempted bombings and murders across the US.

Here is a screenshot from the thread:

According to the ADL, when staffers there saw the threads, they then called the ROF hotline found on their homepage, to which then Jordan Jereb stated that Nikolas Cruz was in fact a member of the group. From the ADL:

After self-described ROF members claimed on the discussion forum 4chan that Cruz had also been a member, the Anti-Defamation League called the ROF hotline and spoke with an ROF member who identified himself as Jordan Jereb.

Jereb, based in Tallahassee, is believed to be the leader of ROF. In 2016, he was arrested on charges of threatening a staffer in the office of Florida Governor Rick Scott because he was allegedly angry at the staffer’s son.

Jereb said that Cruz was associated with ROF, having been “brought up” by another member. Jereb added that Cruz had participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, carpooling with other ROF members from south Florida.

According to The Daily Beast, Jereb later told them in an interview:

“I don’t know precisely what [Cruz] believes,” Jereb said. “I know he knew full well he was joining a white separatist paramilitary proto-fascist organization.”

Jereb said Cruz belonged to a RoF “cell” from Clearwater and drove up with members to Tallahassee to do paramilitary training. RoF was recently operating in Tallahassee and attempting to court new members, according to a local news report from last year. The group posts videos of training montages on the internet with members in fatigues brandishing weapons.

Then, according to ABC News, three Parkland students confirmed that Cruz was involved in the ROF:

Three former schoolmates of Cruz told ABC News that Cruz was part of the group. They claimed he marched with the group frequently and was often seen with Jereb, who also confirmed to ABC News that Cruz was, at least at one point, part of that group.

Jordan Jereb and the Republic of Florida are certainly no stranger to controversy and violent, racist, and anti-Semitic rhetoric that calls for random and violent acts of terror. Only a few days before, the Republic of Florida posted a video of someone jumping up and down with weapons screaming, “Gas the kikes! Race war now!,” while also promoting the book, SIEGE. The person in the video can be seen holding a riot shield, a skull mask popular among white supremacists, and also a helmet with the letters “ROF.” In other photos, some one wearing patches with the name “Jereb,” assumed to be Jordan Jereb, can also been seen in photos wearing a patch that also encourages people to, “READ SIEGE.”

As the news broke that Cruz, according to Jereb, was associated with ROF, the group quickly began removing all of its videos from online, and as the day wore on, Jereb made numerous statements in the media that attempted to put Cruz at a distance.

According to ABC News:

Jereb told the ADL that ROF had not ordered Cruz to take any such action. He told ABC News he has not spoken to Cruz in “some time” but said “he knew he would getting this call.” He would not comment further but emphasized that his group was not a terrorist organization.

In another interview with the Associated Press, Jereb claimed that he didn’t know Cruz personally, and speculated that the shooting was caused by romantic factors, as USA News reported, and noted that the attack was carried out on Valentine’s Day. There may in fact be evidence to support this claim, as Heavy.com wrote:

According to The Associated Press, Cruz was expelled after a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Victoria Olvera told the AP that Cruz was abusive toward his ex-girlfriend.

Gard told the New York Times, Cruz was obsessed with a girl at the school, “to the point of stalking her.”

However in another interview with The Daily Beast, Jereb spoke on the possible motive of the shooter, and even seemed to be impressed by his abilities to kill a mass amount of people:

“There’s a very real sense of feminism being a cancer. That could’ve played into what he did, but we have female members of RoF,” Jereb said, adding that “we’re not a big fan of Jews. I think there were a lot of Jews at the school that might have been messing with him.”

“I’m not trying to glorify it, but he was pretty efficient in what he did,” Jereb said. “He probably used that training to do what he did yesterday. Nobody I know told him to do that, he just freaked out.”

The flag of the Republic of Florida (ROF). SOURCE: ADL

Despite these earlier comments, many cast doubt on the connection between the ROF and Cruz, including many on the far-Right. The most damning came from comments made to Buzzfeed by former ROF members, which stated that they believed that Jereb made the entire story Cruz up for publicity:

However, a former member of the group, friend, and classmate of Jereb’s told BuzzFeed News Thursday night that he is “99.9% sure that Jordan made this up as a stunt to draw attention to ROF.”

The 21-year-old from Tallahassee, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Jereb inflates the group’s size and threatening nature “using props and social media.” He said he left the group about three years ago because it transitioned from a “fun secessionist movement to a racist one.”

“It’s basically just Jordan and a few other guys staging this stuff,” he said. “I’m basically positive that Cruz has no affiliation with ROF whatsoever and this is all a publicity stunt and it seems like it’s working. Seems like Jordan is getting what he wanted.”

Red Hats and InfoWars

But while Jereb is now stating on Gab that Cruz was not involved in ROF, and law enforcement officials have stated that they “[Have] “very solid” information on the group and “there’s no known ties that we have that we can connect” 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz with the group,” it still remains very clear that Cruz was politically far-Right and a supporter of Donald Trump. Several students, as well as Instagram photos confirm that Cruz wore a red MAGA hat.

According to The Daily Beast:

Two classmates said Cruz wore a “Make America Great Again” hat.

“I saw him wear a Trump hat,” said Sebastian Gonzalez, a 19-year-old who graduated from the high school in 2017. “At our school you were sort of with Trump or really against Trump.”

“He always wore like really patriotic shirts that seemed really extreme, like hating on the Islamic religion. For example, he would say things such as like, he would degrade Islamic people as terrorists and bombers. I’ve seen him wear a Trump hat,” Parodie said.

According to Heavy.com, Nikolas’s Instagram account also shows a picture of him wearing the MAGA hat. The account was quickly taken down by Instagram, who issued a statement condemning the killings:

Nick Cruz had at least two Instagram pages. The Instagram pages show a fixation with guns and knives. In one, the profile picture includes a MAGA hat. Authorities say that he committed the massacre with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

Instagram released a statement on the account with the MAGA hat, writing, “This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the people who have been affected. There is absolutely no place on our platforms for people who commit such horrendous acts. We have found and immediately deleted the shooter’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram.”

Instagram photo of Cruz with red MAGA hat. SOURCE: Heavy.com

According to The Daily Beast, an account using the name, Nikolas Cruz also posted numerous comments on YouTube, one of which was brought to the attention of the FBI: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” however, “the bureau’s special agent in charge in Parkland said the FBI was unable to identify the user.” Other comments from the same YouTube account stated a desire to kill antifascists, and celebrated the killings carried out by Elliot Rodgers, a gunman who slaughtered students in Santa Barbra in 2014 and was influenced by the Alt-Right and the Men’s Right’s Movement.

Screenshots from Buzzeed

More statements were later found by Buzzfeed, which seem to show Cruz posting comments that include racial slurs against African-Americans, and a repeated desire to kill antifascists and carry out a school shooting. Cruz also posted a comment on an InfoWars video showing a Trump supporter yelling at a protest stating, “I whana shoot people with my Ar-15.”

Screenshot from Buzzfeed

Republic of Florida

The Republic of Florida, run by Jordan Jereb, has existed for several years and attempts to blend together both elements of the militia movement and the Alt-Right. The Southern Poverty Law Center wrote of Jereb in 2014:

Jereb was a weird character even in the extremist underworld to which he so badly wanted to belong. While almost every neo-Nazi, militiaman, nativist and racist despises the Intelligence Report, Jereb wanted desperately to be mentioned in these pages. He flooded us with pleas for attention. In one E-mail, he even included a manual titled Jackass Warfare: How punk kids could destroy an oppressive government, filled with ways to blow things up and descriptions of how “legally being an asshole” can change the world.

While staying focused on recruiting in Florida, ROF has also built bridges with Matthew Heimbach and the League of the South. In 2015, Jereb interviewed Matthew Heimbach for a YouTube video as Heimbach and his father-in-law Matt Parrot, made their way towards the annual League of the South convention. After news of the possible connection between ROF and the Parkland shooting broke, both Heimbach and Parrot attempted to distance themselves from Jereb, however in the video they can be seen referring to him as “a friend.”

In April of 2015 in Tallahassee, ROF also joined League of the South in a demonstration at the Old Capitol building. Only a few years later, Matthew Heimbach, also associated with League of the South, would help form and lead the Nationalist Front, which grew to include the Traditionalist Worker Party, also led by Heimbach, League of the South, the Nationalist Socialist Movement, and Vanguard America. All of these groups were involved in the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and the suspected murderer of Heather Heyer, James Alex Fields, Jr, was photographed marching with Vanguard America and seen wearing their uniform.

More recently, in a YouTube video that has since been taken down, it is documented that members of ROF were in attendance during Richard Spencer’s October speaking event at a University in Gainesville. The event ended with three of Spencer’s supporters being arrested for shooting at counter-protesters, as they sat at a bus stop. Later is was shown that those involved in the shooting seemed to be connected to groups that were in charge of security of the event, as evidenced by a leaked internal document.

While the video has been taken down, researchers at the antifascist website One People’s Projec were able to transcribe some of the audio of the video:

“While I’m not ready to release any extensive statement about our involvement in the festivities of Gainesville, I am willing to admit that we did have boots on the ground in Gainesville,” Jereb said in the video. “The extent of our involvement in what was going on in Gainesville is not something I’m willing to talk about at this particular juncture. I will however say we did in fact have boots on the ground in Gainesville, and there were things we were doing in Gainesville during the time of the Richard Spencer speech. We did have individuals working privately, quietly in the background, while the surface chaos of the event unfolding.”

The Real News was also able to go over many ROF videos before they were destroyed:

Republic of Florida is an explicitly violent fascist group that plans to create a white ethnostate. The homepage of the militia’s official website prominently features a quote from white supremacist David Lane, who was a member of a white supremacist terrorist group that was behind the murder of a left-wing Jewish radio host.

The neo-Nazi militia says all of its members must have a “willingness to wage battle.” In the Q&A section of its website, Republic of Florida responds to the question “Are you guys violent?” simply writing, “The short answer: Yes.”

Republic of Florida likewise calls on Floridians to unite “to throw the communists out helicopters!” Its public call for the murder of communists includes a photo of fascist Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose military regime murdered, tortured, and disappeared tens of thousands of leftists, with the staunch support of the United States.

A military training video ROF posted online shows members marching to a song that declares, “They call me Nazi, and I’m proud of it.”

Sometime after the shooting, Republic of Florida removed its YouTube videos, including those depicting its training sessions.

A cached version of ROF’s YouTube channel, however, shows it posted multiple videos from the neo-Nazi rapper Mr. Bond. The featured video at the top of its profile was a song by titled “88 Problems” — a Nazi symbol for HH, or “Heil Hitler.” This song, for which the Republic of Florida edited a special video, jokes about denying the Nazi Holocaust and declares, “We’ve been having kike problems for millenia son, I got 88 problems being fash ain’t one.”

When this is coupled with the rhetoric popularized in circles excited by the book SIEGE, which includes the Republic of Florida, we get a very clear picture of who the people at ROF are. Quite simply: even if they were not in anyway connected to the Parkland shooting, clearly they are prepping for the next one.

Patriarchy and Power: Placing the Parkland Shootings in a Context

I concluded that women are flawed. There is something mentally wrong with the way their brains are wired, as if they haven’t evolved from animal – like thinking. They are incapable of reason or thinking rationally. They are like animals, completely cont rolled by their primal, depraved emotions and impulses. That is why they are attracted to barbaric, wild, beast – like men. They are beasts themselves. Beasts should not be able to have any rights in a civilized society. If their wickedness is not contained, the whole of humanity will be held back from advancement to a more civilized state. Women should not have the right to choose who to mate with. That choice should be made for them by civilized men of intelligence.

– Elliot Rodgers

As news of the supposed connection between Nikolas Cruz and ROF grew, many on the Alt-Right began to attack Jordan Jereb, with many drawing a connection between random violence and mass shootings and support for the ideas promoted in SIEGE, as one can see in the below Gab posts.

Sickeningly, Cruz is only the second far-Right shooter in two months to murder students at a school, as William Edward Atchison killed two students before shooting himself in New Mexico back in December of 2017. After the smoke cleared, it was shown that Atchison was obsessed with Trump and neo-Nazi websites like The Daily Stormer. In many ways, Atchison deeply mirrors Cruz, as the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote:

A detailed investigation into Atchison’s online presence conducted by the Daily Beast revealed that the troubled young man spent his days online creating pro-Trump memes, posting violent threats, and glorifying school shooters. He modeled his pseudonyms after mass shooters such as Adam Lanza, the notorious perpetrator of the Sandy Hook shooting, and Anders Breivik, the racist Norwegian shooter who killed 77 and injured 319 in 2011. Other pseudonyms included “Future Mass Shooter” and “School Shooter.”

Atchison also allegedly frequented the Daily Stormer, the racist alt-right’s most notorious website, in addition to other known online communities favored by the alt-right, such as EncyclopediaDramatica, Kiwi Farms, 4chan and various videogame forums. 

Atchison’s affinity for and participation at the Daily Stormer was affirmed by the site’s administrator, Andrew Auernheimer, in a recent episode of his radio show. Auernheimer, who goes by “Weev” online, also stated that Atchison had written to him on social media.

“Last week we had an event happen where a kid that was an alleged Daily Stormer reader,” Weev told his guest, Mike Peinovich of the Right Stuff. “William Edward Atchison, he went to a school and he shot two spics and then he shot himself. It’s a little bit surreal. I don’t doubt this kid read the Daily Stormer. He left comments on my wall.”

In fact, if Cruz was not a member of an organized Alt-Right group, this would fit him more into a pattern of alienated, broken, and depressed young men carrying out acts of murder and violence over the course of the last four years. In each and every case, almost all were not regular movement “activists,” but spent most of their time interacting with the Alt-Right online; consuming podcasts, Tweets, and articles – not going to meetings.

But Cruz shares another thing in common with other recent mass shooters: the abuse of women. Just like the Las Vegas gunman, who also was a Trump supporter, and the Texas church shooter who looked up to Dylann Roof, Cruz was known for abusing his partner. As Quartz wrote:

The 19-year-old was abusive towards his ex-girlfriend and was expelled after getting in a fight with her new boyfriend, one student told the New York Times (paywall). He was taken with another student “to the point of stalking her,” his former math teacher said. Another student said he had been close friends with Cruz but cut him off after he started “going after” and “threatening” a female friend of his.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. The perpetrators of mass shootings in modern America were overwhelmingly male and had a history of domestic abuse or misogynistic shows of behavior.

Omar Mateen, 29, who killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, physically abused his former wife on a regular basis.

Seungh Hui Cho, 23, who gunned down 32 people at Virginia Tech in April 2007, was accused of harassing two women at the university two years earlier. Virginia police ordered him to stop contacting the second student.

Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother four times before killing 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

George Hennard, 35, reportedly stalked two young adult sisters and wrote them a letter in which he called women “vipers” a few months before he murdered 14 women and 9 men at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas in 1991. The mass-murder was thought to be driven by his hostility towards women, and witnesses said he passed over men to shoot women.

Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people in Las Vegas last year, had a habit of berating his girlfriend in public.

In short, it seems that current mass shooters are often drawn to Trump and things like the Alt-Right for that exact same reason they choose to lash out with violence against women and physically attack their partners; they crave a sense of power and authority over other living things, and are determined to get revenge upon a world that does not automatically produce it for them.

Andrew Anglin, the figurehead behind The Daily Stormer, spoke to this reality, when he wrote about his desire for young and broken white men to discover their meaning through violence and war, as he wrote the following in the lead up to the Unite the Right demonstration in Charlottesville, which he ironically did not attend:

We feel emasculated.

Many of us feel we have never had power.

We crave power.

We lust after power. We want to be part of a group, which will give us power. A group that will confirm our worth as men.

We do not have identities.

We want identities.

We want to be productive. All men want to be productive. We want to build, we want to create, we want to be needed.

We have problems with women. All of us do. We lie to each other and claim that we do not. But we all do.

We are a generation of throwaways, which (((those who write history before it happens))) have slated to be the last generation of Heterosexual White Men.

We are angry.

There is a atavistic rage in us, deep in us, that is ready to boil over.

There is a craving to return to an age of violence.

We want a war.

Moreover, we should also not forget that this is literally the 8th school shooting since the start of 2018 (reports of 18 were in fact wrong), and the deadliest mass shooting on a campus since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. What is happening in this society that is causing such an explosion of spectacular violence that on one hand seems to be designed to create an anti-hero martyr in the media, and on the other, hopes to bring to an end to as much life as possible, including that of the shooter?

One thing is clear, the quick answers from both liberals about guns, or from the Right, about the breakdown of the nuclear family and the church, because of “the Left,” are equally foolish. In reality, the destruction of community, family, and friendship ties has more to do with the restructuring of the economy under neoliberalism and the immense amount of increase in social alienation due to social media and technology than anything.

Also, it is important to look at who keeps carrying out these acts of violence: almost exclusively young white men, often those who feel depressed and helpless in the face of modern society, and in turn, angry at the various forces they feel have engineered their lives to be so: women, African-Americans, immigrants, trans and queer people, participants in social movements, and so on. This isn’t hard to understand, because these are the same enemies that are screamed about both from the pulpit of the Presidency and the podcasts of the Alt-Right.

In a society that has attempted to police and beat down any attempt at challenging power and bettering the conditions of oppressed, working-class, and poor people, while also promoting and giving a platform at every instance to the most reactionary, chauvinist, violent, patriarchal, and authoritarian ideologies, can we actually be surprised when this in turn creates real causalities?

All-American Murder

What Cruz did was horrific and unforgivable, but it is also clear that he didn’t have an easy life. An adopted child, both of his parents would be dead by 2017, his adoptive mother dying a slow and painful death from the flu. Already across the US, there are growing calls for more information and transparency in regards to increased flu deaths, with Forbes reporting, “younger and seemingly healthier people are also being hospitalized at rates far higher than the historical average and 63 children have already died.” After his adoptive mother had passed away, Cruz and his brother then moved into a friends house.

After being kicked out of school, Cruz found a job working at Dollar Tree as a cashier, one of the businesses that have grown exponentially in the wake of the Great Recession, as the working poor try to find ways to stretch their dollars. But despite his life going to complete shit, it seems that things in Parkland were much more rosy.

As TwinCities.com wrote:

Authorities have not described any specific motive, except to say that Cruz had been kicked out of the high school, which has about 3,000 students and serves an affluent suburb where the median home price is nearly $600,000. Students who knew him described a volatile teenager whose strange behavior had caused others to end friendships with him.

Cruz didn’t have a family to speak of, he was described as a loner and outcast at school. After his mother died from the flu, his mental health broke down and he attempted to find help in institutions. He did not have a girlfriend, and instead was obsessed with various young women. He worked as a cashier making low wages at a dead end job selling about to expire food to other poor people, meanwhile all around him, $600,000 homes beamed with middle class success. In short, he had nothing. Is it any wonder he attempted to find solace in guns, weapons, Trump, and the internet?

Painting a similar picture, political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal wrote of Alt-Right mass murderer, Dylan Roof:

Dylan Roof, the 21 year old accused of this massacre, had no friends to speak of, no place to stay other than an associate’s couch, no job, and a tenuous relationship with his parents. Isolated, alienated, alone in the world, his sole remaining possession was his whiteness, the only thing that gave his existence meaning. That was the energy that fueled the massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.

We shouldn’t wait for the future Dylan Roof’s and Nikolas Cruz’s of the world to stop killing the rest of us, instead we should organize to defend ourselves from them, and moreover drive them from power. But in the long run, we have to organize and work to create the kind of world that doesn’t mass produce these killers on an almost weekly basis. Such a solution won’t be found in government or in the echo chamber of social media, but instead in living and breathing human communities.


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