After the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, online threats quickly turn into real violence – TechCrunch

The threat of violence peaked — reminiscent of the days leading up to the Capitol bombing — after news that the FBI had raided Trump’s Florida beach club to retrieve classified documents the former president held there. may have taken illegally.

After Trump himself confirmed Monday’s raid on Mar-a-Lago, pro-Trump pundits and politicians rallied behind declarations of war, and Trump’s ever-fervent supporters called for everything from dismantling the federal law enforcement agency to committing of violence against his agents. From there, the situation escalated in record time, with online rhetoric quickly turning into real violence.

On Thursday, a gunman identified as Ricky Shiffer attempted to break into an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio, brandishing a rifle before fleeing. Law enforcement officers pursued Shiffer and he was fatally shot during the ensuing standoff with police.

Analysts at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a nonprofit researching extremism and disinformation, have found evidence that Shiffer was driven to commit violence by “conspiratorial beliefs related to former President Trump and the 2020 election… interest in killing federal law enforcement, and the recent search warrant executed in Mar-a-Lago earlier this week.” He was also reportedly present at the attack of January 6 — another echo between this week’s escalating online threats and the tensions that culminated that day with political violence in the Capitol.

Shiffer appears to have been active on both Twitter and Truth Social, the platform of Trump’s media company that hosts the former president and his supporters. As Thursday’s attack unfolded, Shiffer appeared to be posting to Truth Social about how his plan to infiltrate the FBI office by breaking through a ballistic glass barrier with a spike gun had gone awry. “Well, I thought I had my way through bulletproof glass, and I didn’t,” the account wrote Thursday morning. “If you don’t hear from me, it’s true that I tried to attack the FBI, which means I was either taken off the Internet, the FBI got me, or they sent the regular police. ..”

In posts on Truth Social, the account begged others to “be ready to kill the enemy” and “kill the FBI on the spot” in light of Monday’s raid on Mar-a-Lago. It also urged followers to heed a “call to arms” to arm themselves and prepare for battle. “If you are aware of any protests or attacks, please post it here,” the account stated earlier this week.

By Friday, that account was removed from the platform, and a search for Shiffer’s name mostly revealed content denouncing his actions. “Why did you censor #rickyshiffer’s profile? So much for #truth and #transparency,” a Truth Social user posted Friday. Still, online conspiracies surrounding the week’s events continue to circulate widely on Truth Social and elsewhere, accusing Antifa of attacking the FBI’s Ohio office, accusing the agency of posting documents in Mar-a-Lago, and unfounded fears that well-armed IRS Agents will descend on Americans in light of Friday’s House approval of the Inflation Reduction Act.

“‘Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter what someone is angry about or who they are angry at,'” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in light of the emerging threats of violence this week. Trump appointed Wray to the role in 2017 after the infamous impeachment of former FBI Director James Comey.

Friday is also the five-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally, during which white nationalists dressed in Nazi imagery openly marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. The ensuing events left 32-year-old protester Heather Heyer dead and sent political shockwaves through a nation that had grown largely complacent over the simmering threat of white supremacist violence.

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