The night of November 23, a group of masked men waded into the crowd of protesters camped at the Fourth Precinct police station. They carried a video camera and came armed with guns.
The men reportedly insulted protesters and made light of Clark’s death as they filmed the scene. Protesters, who had been on the lookout for white supremacists to show up ever since some racist online postings alluded to trouble, tried to push the masked men out. In the ensuing scuffle, five protesters were shot.
Minneapolis Police rounded up five suspects the following day. One was released after police determined he wasn’t at the precinct when the shootings took place.
Monday morning, lone shooter Allen Scarsella was charged with second degree riot, plus five counts of second degree assault with a firearm, resulting in substantial bodily harm. Conviction on all counts carries a maximum sentence of 55 years. Joseph Backman, Nathan Gustavsson, and Daniel Macey were each charged with one count of second degree riot armed with guns.
They were not charged with hate crimes despite their overt racism, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said, because they'll get more time for rioting and assault with a dangerous weapon than for hate. The suspects are all white men in their 20s except for Macey, who is Asian.
"The defendants' own statements, their video, shows that these are sick people," Freeman said. "The language they used and how they talked about fellow Americans, citizens, people, is unacceptable."
According to the criminal complaints, the four men haunted message boards relating to the guns and white power on 4chan, the online mecca for anime dweebs. Snippets of their conversation show that they’re fluent in World of Warcraft and otaku culture. Imgur photos of Scarsella and Macey showed the two posing in camouflage with a gratuitous number of guns in a wooded area of Pine County, which was spotted with white power flags.
Texts between Scarsella, Backman, and Gustavsson revealed their plans to infiltrate the Fourth Precinct protest and "rile up so much shit up." Following the shootings, Scarsella called a suburban cop friend and confessed he had shot five people, according to his complaint. The officer, who knew that Scarsella had intensely anti-government, anti-black sentiments, encouraged him to turn himself in.
The investigation continues as police search for more evidence and more players who may have been involved.
White supremacists had shown up at the precinct at least two nights prior to the shooting, dancing and jeering at protesters. One video they filmed captures a guy in a scarf mocking a female protester behind her back, remarking, “What a useless piece of cunt.”
Another man in the group responds, “We’re supposed to find a waifu in that?” – referring to an anime love interest – followed by something unintelligible about “niggers.”
Monday morning, Mayor Betsy Hodges urged protesters to clear the Fourth Precinct. Protesters camped there have barricaded the entire block, setting up fire pits and threatening the officers who have also stood guard since November 15. Altercations between police and protesters have involved the cops discharging mace and marking rounds into crowds, and protesters returning fire with rocks and molotov cocktails.
Following the shooting, a Black Lives Matter spokeswoman accused Minneapolis Police of colluding with white supremacists to stage the attack. Freeman said there was absolutely no evidence to support that claim.
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