A picture is emerging of the prime suspect in a string of incidents where pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democrats and opponents of President Donald Trump.
This morning, authorities arrested 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, a Florida resident, and seized Sayoc’s white van. Journalists quickly revealed that Sayoc appeared to be a rampant Trump fan: His van was festooned with Trump stickers and memes, he posted photos and videos of himself at Trump rallies on social media, and two Twitter feeds he is believed to have run were full of Trump slogans and threats to opponents of the president.
As we’ve previously reported, people across America have been attacking people and punctuating their attacks with Trump’s name since the president took office.
Last year, we interviewed more than 80 people who were attacked, physically or verbally, by Trump supporters who specifically mentioned the president during their attacks. And we confirmed another 70 reports that were made to the Documenting Hate database, an effort run by ProPublica. Our project, Trumping Hate, lays out what we found:
Interviews with the targets of and witnesses to these incidents showed a striking pattern. The abusers had a clear message: Trump’s going to take care of a problem – and that problem is you.
This pattern extended across races, religions and sexual orientation. Two days after the presidential election, a gay man in Michigan heard a taunt from a group of men: “Trump is going to get rid of people like you.” A week later, a Jewish woman in Austin, Texas, said she heard exactly the same threat from a middle-aged white man as she lined up to buy groceries. Two months later, a Latino man in California said he was told by a white ex-girlfriend that Trump was going “get rid of the Hispanics.” By March, a black woman in Houston reported that she was told by a white man that Trump was going to “get rid of all you niggers.”
These incidents ranged from quick, nasty insults to violent attacks that left victims in the hospital.
We also outlined, in a project last year with The Investigative Fund, how radical right-wing terrorists account for far more attacks on American citizens than other terrorists like Islamists:
A database of nine years of domestic terrorism incidents compiled by The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has produced a very different picture of the threat than that advanced by the current White House.
- From January 2008 to the end of 2016, we identified 63 cases of Islamist domestic terrorism, meaning incidents motivated by a theocratic political ideology espoused by such groups as the Islamic State. The vast majority of these (76 percent) were foiled plots, meaning no attack took place.
- During the same period, we found that right-wing extremists were behind nearly twice as many incidents: 115. Just over a third of these incidents (35 percent) were foiled plots. The majority were acts of terrorist violence that involved deaths, injuries or damaged property.
- Right-wing extremist terrorism was more often deadly: Nearly a third of incidents involved fatalities, for a total of 79 deaths, while 13 percent of Islamist cases caused fatalities. (The total deaths associated with Islamist incidents were higher, however, reaching 90, largely due to the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas.)
For his part, Trump returned to his previous rhetoric shortly after the bombs were discovered.
At a speech to a conservative group at the White House today, the president again ranted about “globalists” — a dog whistle that racists have used for decades to decry a global conspiracy of Jewish people.
This cabal is most frequently represented in modern alt-right conspiracy theories by billionaire philanthropist and activist George Soros — one of the targets of the pipe bomber.
During Trump’s speech, the crowd at one point erupted into chants of “CNN sucks.”
CNN’s New York headquarters were also targeted by the bomber.
Sayoc also has a sticker about CNN on his van. It reads, “CNN sucks.”
Will Carless can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @willcarless. Subscribe to the weekly Hate Report newsletter.