Killed by hate: Victims of America’s far-right violence
Over the last 16 years, the number of far-right attacks in the United States has grown to an average of 300 per year, according to a study by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
Yet, since the election of right-wing US President Donald Trump in November, researchers and activists say far-right groups have been emboldened to carry out more hate crimes.
The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organisation that monitors hate groups, recorded an average of 87 hate incidents a day during the ten-day period after Trump’s elections. This is five times the daily average of hate crimes recorded by the FBI in 2015.
Many of those hate incidents targeted people of colour, Muslims, Jews, members of the LGBTQ community and others.
The upsurge in racist violence has been punctuated by a handful of deadly attacks. Al Jazeera has broken down some of the most high-profile killings attributed to far-right violence in 2017.
Charlottesville’s Unite the Right rally, August 2017
On August 12, hundreds of white supremacists and neo-Nazis converged on Charlottesville, Virginia, for “Unite the Right”, the largest far-right rally to be held in the US in recent decades.
That rally was called by Jason Kessler, a former journalist and white supremacist activist, and was attended by several groups affiliated with the alt-right, a loosely knit coalition of white supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis.
Unite the Right participants clashed with community members, anti-racists and anti-fascist activists throughout the city.
By the end of the day, 20-year-old James Alex Fields allegedly ploughed his car into an anti-racist march and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer, a social worker and activist. At least 19 others were injured in the incident.
Earlier in the day, Fields was photographed marching with a Vanguard America, a neo-Nazi group. He was subsequently charged with second-degree murder and a slew of felonies.
Islamophobic tirade ends with deadly stabbings, May 2017
Jeremy Christian, 35, stabbed three menin the throats when they attempted to intervene while he hurled anti-Muslim insults at two teenage girls on a light rail in Portland, Oregon.
|Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Ricky John Best, 53, were stabbed to death on May 26, 2017 [Facebook]|
Christian had been photographed a week earlier performing Nazi salutes at a far-right rally a week before the attack.
Two of the victims, 53-year-old Ricky John Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, died. Micah Fletcher, who is now 21, survived the attack.
Upon entering the court room for a hearing following the killings, Christian bellowed: “You call it terrorism; I call it patriotism. You hear me? Die. Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedom.”
Fletcher later spoke to local media about the attack. “The Muslim community, especially in Portland, needs to understand that there are a lot of us that are not going to stand by and let anybody – whether they are from here or not – scare you into thinking you can’t be a part of this town, this city, this community or this country,” he said.
Stabbed to death while waiting for Uber, May 2017
Sean Christopher Urbanski, 22, was charged with first- and second-degree murderafter allegedly stabbing to death 23-year-old Richard Collins III, an African-American university student and lieutenant in the US army, as the victim and his friends waited for an Uber on the University of Maryland’s campus.
|Richard Collins III, 22, was killed on May 20, 2017 [Bowie State University/Handout/Reuters]|
Police did not charge Urbanski with a hate crime, but critics denounced the decision and pointed to his membership in a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation”.
“Reich” was ostensibly a reference to the German Nazi regime known as the Third Reich, and the group was chock-full of anti-Semitic and racist content.
Collins was only three days away from graduating from nearby Bowie State University at the time of his killing.
At the time, Prince George County’s State Attorney Angela D Alsobrooks said prosecutors would “need something probably more than just a Facebook posting” to charge the assailant with a hate crime.
Black man fatally stabbed with a sword, March 2017
James Harris Jackson, a 28-year-old white man from Baltimore, travelled to New York City with the hopes of killing black people, according to investigators.
Upon arriving in the city, Jackson used a sword to fatally stab 66-year-old Timothy Caughman, an African American.
|Timothy Caughman, 66, was stabbed to death on March 20, 2017 [Timothy Caughman/Twitter]|
Investigators later stated that Jackson admitted that he ventured to New York City to kill African Americans because he believed it would get more media attention.
Subsequent media profiles painted Jackson, an army veteran, as a man who had harbored intense anti-black racism for most of his life.
Indian immigrant shot dead, February 2017
Adam W Purinton, a 51-year-old white man, was kicked out of a bar in Kansas City after hurling racist slurs at Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, two immigrants from India.
|Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed on February 22, 2017 [David Ryder/Reuters]|
Witnesses said Purinton later shouted “get out of my country” as he shot the two men, killing Kuchibhotla and injuring Madasani, both 32 years old.
The assailant was later charged with a hate crime, murder, attempted murder and weapons charges.
Sunaina Dumala, Kuchibhotla’s widow, told media outlets she was already concerned about anti-immigrant violence before the attack that left her husband dead.
“He did not deserve a death like this,” Dumala, who was planning her first child with her husband, said at the time.