Extremism expert worries Sunday shootings could spark copycats - 8 News NOW

Extremism expert worries Sunday shootings could spark copycats

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LAS VEGAS -- A spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., a leading voice against hate crimes and extremism, said Monday he fears the shooting deaths of two Metro Police officers and a bystander by an alleged anti-government couple could spark copycat killings elsewhere.

Mark Potok told 8 News NOW in a telephone interview a day after shooters Jerad and Amanda Miller went on their rampage before killing themselves that “it’s a very worrying situation.”

“In the aftermath of the (Cliven) Bundy standoff we saw very quickly things like armed men riding ATVs into a closed national forest in Utah,” Potok said. “That was not quite the same kind of thing in that law enforcement did not stand in their way and confront them.

“But I think we are very likely to see this movement pick up speed and we may well see copycats. There may well be other people out there who feel that the time to actually start the war with our own federal government is now.”

Potok said Jerad Miller’s presence at the Bundy ranch in Bunkerville during the rancher’s showdown this spring with federal authorities involving a cattle grazing dispute may have contributed to the shooting Sunday.

“Without question the confrontation at Cliven Bundy’s ranch was one of the most important things we’ve seen happen on the radical right in quite a little while,” Potok said. “The militia movement, the so-called Patriot movement, saw the BLM’s backing down at the Bundy ranch as a very, very important, critically important victory for the movement.”

Potok didn’t blame the Bundy family for the shootings that happened Sunday but said: “The reality is what happened at the Bundy ranch gave these kinds of people the feeling that victory was within sight, that they could face down the federal government firearm to firearm and actually win.

“It is entirely possible that the Miller couple thought that the Bundy ranch was the beginning of the real showdown with the government and decided that they, too, would take on the federal government by going out and murdering police officers and other people.”

Postings on the Millers’ Facebook pages “made it very clear that they are, in fact, part of the anti-government hatred movement, the so-called militia movement,” Potok said.

“Probably the most chilling thing of all was the day before they allegedly opened fire, on Saturday, Jerad Miller wrote two simple sentences,” Potok said. “‘The dawn of a new day. May all our coming sacrifices be worth it.’

“Elsewhere on his Facebook page he rants on quite endlessly about the evils of the federal government, about gun seizures. He’s full of conspiracy theories about contrails and so on. The thing that he keeps coming back to is his ‘willingness to die for liberty.’”

The shooting in Las Vegas occurred just two days after self-described “sovereign citizen” Dennis Marx attacked the courthouse in Forsyth County, Ga., using tire spikes and smoke bombs. He wounded a sheriff’s deputy before he was killed by police in a gun battle outside the courthouse.

Potok mentioned other recent shootings as well, including the killing of three Canadian police officers last week by a suspect allegedly armed with high-powered long firearms.

“There seems to be a lot of anger out there,” Potok said. “I think the propaganda machine of the radical right is working overtime, giving these people the feeling that the government is about to come after them, come after their guns and so on, and that may well be what’s provoking at least some of these shootings.”

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