Last night, according to various media accounts, Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis confronted three mask-wearing men at the protests who seemed to be acting shady. After a brief altercation, one or more of the men pulled out a gun and shot at BLM protesters, wounding five of them.
Police took two men — one white, one Hispanic — into custody in connection with the shooting, later releasing the Hispanic man. Two other white men, both in their twenties, turned themselves in to police this afternoon.
While we still don’t know all the details of the shooting, there’s some pretty compelling circumstantial evidence suggesting that the masked men (and perhaps a masked woman as well) were 4channers who had been lurking around the demonstrations for days.
Raw Story is claiming that
White supremacists have discussed various strategies online for sparking confrontation at the demonstration, which they described as a “chimpout.” …
They agreed to wear camouflage clothing and display a four of clubs to identify each other, and the white supremacist agitators argued over whether they should carry guns or wear Guy Fawkes masks.
Much of their language will sound familiar to you all. Raw Story continues:
The white supremacist mocked “social justice warriors” and other anti-racist whites, who they described in psychosexual terms.
“Best to act as much like a beta white as much as you can,” one the racists said.
Meanwhile, a video posted online shows two masked men in camo gear apparently on their way to disrupt the BLM protests; they refer to blacks as “dindus” (short for “dindu nuffin”), a racist slur popular amongst 4channers and white supremacists. (The video was apparently shot several days before last night’s shooting.)
While we don’t know for sure that 4channers — or the two men in the video above — were involved in the shooting, some 4channers are convinced of the connection.
In a 4chan /pol/ thread earlier today quoted by Gawker, one anon puts the responsibility on members of 4chan’s famously racist /pol/ board, as well as another 4chan board devoted to guns:
4chan in the news again. A bunch of /pol/lacks+/k/ommandos in Guy Fawkes masks just shot up a Black Lives Matter protest. Apparently the BLM protestors tried to assault them, the Anon’s ran off and when the BLM protestors chased after them the /k/ommandos shot them.
5 BLM supporters confirmed in the hospital.
Media hasn’t mentioned 4chan by name yet but these guys were on /pol/ a few days ago telling everyone how they were trolling BLM by attending their protests and open carrying.
Other 4hanners claim that the 4channers who talked about disrupting the protests were not the same people who were involved in the shootings yesterday.
If the connection to 4chan is as real as it seems on the surface to be, it’s yet another reminder that online talk can have potentially deadly real world consequences — even when the online talkers claim to be “trolling.”
The alleged planning emails quoted by Raw Story, with their references to “SJW faggots” and “beta white cuck[s],” are steeped in the language, and the aggrieved entitlement, not only of 4chan but of the broader manosphere; it’s the same sort of language used by readers of the cuck-obsessed white supremacist “pickup artist” Heartiste and more than a few GamerGate trolls.
Online hate is not somehow magically separate from the real world; it’s part of it. If the shootings last night were connected to 4chan, and it seems likely they were, they also show that the line between hateful “trolling” and “real” hate is exceedingly thin if not nonexistent. The shootings last night are what happens when “trolls” carry guns.