Days after deadly shooting at LGBTQ club, Twitter bans group that protects LGBTQ events
Last Saturday's mass shooting at Club Q, an LBGTQ-friendly bar in Colorado Springs, Colorado, came as a shock, but not a surprise, to people who monitor extremism. Meanwhile, Twitter – days after restoring extremists to its pages – banned the account of an anti-fascist pro-gun collective that has been protecting similar LGBTQ events from those who mean them harm. And in Hawaii, two Native Hawaiian men are convicted of hate crimes for a racially motivated attack on a white man.
It's the week in extremism:
Experts foresaw Club Q attack
The mass shooting at Club Q, a longtime haven for the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs, came after more than a year and a half of escalating rhetoric against the LGBTQ community from the far-right. The attack, in which five people were killed and 17 injured, follows a longstanding pattern, where the country's extremist far-right fringe latches on to hysterical coverage from conservative media and politicians against a minority group, often with fatal consequences.
- “Any community that is considered a threat to the way of life of the population is then targeted as a group to be stopped,” Marilyn Mayo, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism told USA TODAY. “That, in turn, leads people to marginalize that group and then act.”
- While the motive of the attack had still not been outlined by authorities Thursday, the alleged assailant had previously told their family they "wanted to be the next mass shooter," according to arrest documents from an incident last year.
- According to the suspect's attorneys, the suspect identifies as nonbinary and uses "they" and "them" as pronouns. Experts said that should make no difference in whether the incident is charged as a hate crime.
More on Club Q: 'Didn't have time to scream': As bodies fell, an Army vet rose
Twitter bans account calling for LGBTQ people to arm themselves
A lot has been going on on Twitter. Former President Donald Trump's account was reinstated and, members of the Proud Boys have flooded the platform seemingly without challenge. Every day seems to bring a new controversy.
And while new owner Elon Musk has made waves by reinstating accounts that had previously been suspended, there's at least one longtime account that was newly suspended Tuesday: the Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club.
The group has made headlines for appearing, while armed, to stand guard at LGBTQ events in Texas because those events have been increasingly threatened by far-right extremists. But a tweet after the Club Q shooting apparently led Twitter to shutter the group's account.
- The gun club gained national headlines this summer when members showed up, dressed all in black and bearing pride flags and ribbons, to protect an all-ages drag brunch in Roanoke, Texas.
- On Twitter, a backup account for the club shared a screenshot showing the tweets the main account was suspended for. One reads "Every queer a riflethem," an apparent urging for LGBTQ people to arm themselves in defense of attacks, and perhaps a play on the Marine Corps catchphrase "Every Marine a rifleman" – but with inclusive pronouns .
- The tweet violates Twitter's rules against hateful conduct, according to the company response posted by the group. The tweet was posted two days after the attack on Club Q.
- As of Thursday, the account was still suspended.
Hate crime conviction in Hawaii
Two men of Native Hawaiian descent were convicted of hate crimes in a 2014 attack on a white man in the remote village of Kahakuloa on the island of Maui, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday. The attack occurred after Christopher Kunzelman was attacked while working on a house he had just purchased in the village.
- “The defendants in this case committed a gruesome attack on the victim because of his race,” Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division said in a statement. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will work to bring to justice anyone who uses threats and violence to intimidate any individual because of racial bias.”
- A jury found the men guilty last week. Sentencing in the case will be on March 2, 2023. The charge on which the two men were convicted carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Catch up: Last week in extremism
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Days after deadly shooting at LGBTQ club, Twitter bans group that protects LGBTQ events