Tuesday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

Today I decided to follow up on stories from yesterday’s post by Dakinikat, including the Colorado Springs mass shooting, the terroristic threats at the University of New Orleans, and the horrific vehicle crash in Hingham, Massachusetts that I wrote about in the comments. I thought it would be a good idea to update what we know about the stories we were discussing yesterday.

Club Q Massacre Commentary

Moira Donegan at The Guardian: The US right is stoking anti-LGBT hate. This shooting was no surprise.

There’s a grim routine, these days, to the mass shootings in America. Some elements remain constant from shooting to shooting. Usually, the gunman is a young white man, and usually, he has a history of violence against women. There will have been mental health episodes, or previous run-ins with police. But none of this history will have stopped him from getting a gun. American mass shooters tend to use automatic or semi-automatic long guns, the kind that aren’t available to civilians in other countries. Almost always, they purchased them legally….

In the hours after a gunman stormed into Club Q, a morbid kind of box checking began. Yes, it was a young white man who committed the rampage – this time a 22-year-old. Yes, the shooter had a history of violence against women: the attacker was arrested last year after an hours-long standoff with police after making a bomb threat against his mother. He was charged with multiple felonies, but, yes, he still had access to guns. Yes, the killer used an AR-style long gun to murder his victims. And yes, the killer appears to have rightwing ties: he’s the grandson of a far-right California state assemblyman who supported the January 6 insurrection. On Monday, the shooter was charged with five counts of murder and several hate crimes.

There’s a morbid randomness to American gun violence – that fatal combination of scarce mental health treatment and superabundant firearms that makes America, and only America, a place where mass public massacres are common even when the nation is ostensibly at peace. But if the Colorado attack was enabled by America’s pervasive gun violence problem, it seems to have been prompted by the tenor of rightwing media, both broadcast and online, which over the past years has turned a virulent, conspiratorial and obsessively hateful eye towards the LGBT community.

In the coming days, the massacre at Club Q will be cast as an isolated tragedy, and those who point out the right’s complicity in the violence will be accused, with predictable cynicism, of politicizing the tragedy. But what happened in Colorado Springs this past weekend was the foreseeable continuation of a trend of escalating violence targeting gay spaces, and drag shows in particular.

It’s a good article; read the whole thing at The Guardian.

Brian Broome at The Washington Post: The Colorado massacre cannot be blamed on mental illness. It’s rooted in hate.

After the shooting at the LGBTQ Club Q in Colorado Springs, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), gun rights advocate and representative for her state’s 3rd Congressional District, tweeted the following: “The news out of Colorado Springs is absolutely awful. This morning the victims & their families are in my prayers. This lawless violence needs to end and end quickly.”

In her tweet, Boebert left out the “news” that a lone gunman entered an LGBTQ space and began shooting, killing five and injuring at least 25. I’m betting Boebert did not mention these specifics because that would ruin her brand: the gun-toting, queer-hating, God-loving, outlaw whose job it is to own the liberals. If she had tweeted the specifics of the night and its tragic outcome, it might cause some of her followers to see LGBTQ people as human beings. And she can’t have that.

I don’t go to clubs and bars anymore. But when I was younger, queer spaces were a lifeline. They weren’t just bars; they were shelters where I could escape all the judgment of the world. All the Christians who seemed to delight in telling me that I was hell-bound. All the pressure to be a “real man.” All the pretending to be someone I wasn’t, just to fit into a social order that I didn’t understand. They were, in short, places where I felt free.

Everyone should have such a place. For heterosexual people, that place is the whole wide world. For heterosexual people, that place includes public parks and restaurants and any street they care to walk down, hand in hand. But LGBTQ people must find — or more accurately — create those spaces. And because of the shooting at Club Q, there is, for now, one fewer place for the queer community of Colorado Springs to go.

You know who will get the blame for Colorado Springs, right? Each time these things happen, the right-wing go-to is to blame “mental illness.” That’s what some thought drove Robert Bowers to the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh to kill 11 human beings. That’s what others believed made Dylann Roof stroll into a Black church in Charleston, S.C., to murder nine human beings. And, sooner or later, conservatives will say it was “mental illness” that drove this newest killer of the marginalized to commit the latest atrocity.

But are we ever going to ask why so many supposedly mentally ill people seem to carry right-wing talking points along with their AR-15s?

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: The Massacre at Club Q Was Only a Matter of Time.

The massacre this past weekend at Club Q, an L.G.B.T.Q. club in Colorado Springs, was at once shocking and entirely predictable, like terrorist attacks on synagogues and abortion clinics.

The police are still investigating the motive behind the shooting, in which five people were killed and at least 18 others wounded. But we know that the suspect is facing hate crime charges, and that the attack took place in a climate of escalating anti-gay and anti-trans violence and threats of violence.

We also know that, in recent years, the right has become increasingly fixated on all-ages drag shows, part of a growing moral panic about children being “groomed” into gender nonconformity. Club Q hosted a drag show on Saturday night and had an all-ages drag brunch scheduled for Sunday. Perhaps we’ll learn something in the coming days that will put these murders, which took place on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, into a new light, but right now, it seems hard to separate them from a nationwide campaign of anti-L.G.B.T.Q. incitement.

During the early years of Donald Trump’s administration, conservatives downplayed the contempt for homosexuality and gender nonconformity that had once been central to their movement, foregrounding racial resentment instead. Opposition to gay marriage had become a political loser, and it was hard to pose as champions of wholesome family values while enthusiastically supporting a thrice-married libertine who’d made a cameo in soft-core porn. But in recent years, as growing numbers of kids started identifying as trans, the puritanical tendency on the right has come roaring back, part of an increasingly apocalyptic worldview that sees the erosion of traditional gender roles as a harbinger of national collapse.

Chris Rufo, the entrepreneurial activist who made critical race theory into a major political issue, shifted his focus to “gender ideology” in public schools. Lawmakers began to target pro-L.G.B.T.Q. teachers, and to accuse anyone who opposed them of being “groomers.” When Florida was debating legislation restricting classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, Gov. Ron DeSantis’s press secretary wrote on Twitter, “If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children.”

The language of “grooming” recapitulated old homophobic tropes about gay people recruiting children, while also playing into the newer delusions of QAnon, which holds that elite liberals are part of a sprawling satanic child abuse ring. Conservatives hoped to turn this conspiracy theory into political power; according to the Human Rights Campaign, Republicans and Republican-aligned groups spent at least $50 million on anti-L.G.B.T.Q. ads in the midterms.

Read the rest at the link. Goldberg really spells out the ways in which the right has targeted LGBTQ people to light the fires of hate in voters.

University of New Orleans Terroristic Threats

I found some more details on the story Dakinikat posted about yesterday. 

WDSU News: UNO threat suspect arrested and identified; classes will resume Tuesday.

According to UNO, the suspect was a former student who entered a classroom last week and began acting erratically.

The New Orleans Police Department, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, UNO Police, and the United States Marshal’s worked together to arrest 22-year-old Karam Mohammed in connection with terrorizing, stalking, and unlawful disruption of the operation of a school.

This story has more details:

4WWL: UNO threat suspect arrested and identified; classes will resume Tuesday.

A former University of New Orleans student is under arrest for alleged terrorizing.

The New Orleans Police Department identified the suspect as 22-year-old Karam Mohammed Alhatel. Mohammed Alhatel was charged with terrorizing, stalking, and unlawful disruption of the operation of a school.

In an email to students and faculty, UNO President John Nicklow said the threats were serious enough to close campus on Monday.

According to Nicklow, last week Mohammed Alhatel entered a classroom and acted in an erratic and disruptive manner. 

Sources on campus say he threatened a teacher in the chemistry department and a group of students in the library. 

Nicklow’s email also indicated UNO police officers discovered a video posted Friday on one of the suspect’s social media accounts, showing him purchasing an assault-style rifle at a gun store, and additional photographs of him brandishing the firearm were posted across the suspect….

UNO officials said local and federal authorities kept tabs on Mohammed Alhatel over the weekend. 

Officers from New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, and the U.S. Marshal’s office arrested him overnight. 

It certainly sounds like the university and law enforcement averted a possible tragedy.

Hingham, Massachusetts Apple Store Crash

It’s now 20 injured. Fourteen ambulances and multiple fire trucks were called to the scene. Injured people were taken to at least three different hospitals, some–presumably the most serious cases–were sent to Boston and Worcester. Some victims were still waiting for surgery this morning.

CNN: Man arrested after SUV drove through Massachusetts Apple store, leaving 1 dead and at least 20 injured.

The man accused of driving an SUV into a Hingham, Massachusetts, Apple store, killing one person and injuring 20 others, has been identified as Bradley Rein, a prosecutor’s office tweeted Tuesday.

The 53-year-old has been charged with “reckless homicide by motor vehicle,” the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office said in the tweet. Rein was arrested Monday night and is scheduled to be arraigned in Hingham District Court, the tweet said without providing a date and time.

First responders described a chaotic scene after the SUV crashed through the window of the busy Apple store in the town about 20 miles southeast of Boston. Emergency services responded to the Derby Street Shops following 911 calls for help around 10:45 a.m., Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz said.

A dark-colored SUV smashed through the store’s window at an undetermined speed and hit people, Cruz said.

“First responders found coworkers and other bystanders rendering first aid to multiple victims in need of urgent care,” his office said in a news release.

People were injured in front of the store and inside it, including victims who were pinned against the wall by the vehicle, Hingham Fire Chief Steve Murphy said. Seven fire engines and 14 ambulances responded, he said.

Police identified Kevin Bradley, 65, of New Jersey, as the victim killed at the scene, Cruz said, noting the investigation into the crash is active and ongoing.

There were “life and limb-threatening injuries.” One story I read said that a witness estimated the SUV was going about 60mph when it drove into the store.

First responder Dr. William Tollefsen, from South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, described using a restaurant near the Apple store to triage people and keep them out of the cold. The injured included people with head trauma and mangled limbs, he said.

South Shore was treating patients for life- and limb-threatening injuries, some of whom were still awaiting surgery Monday afternoon, said Dr. Christopher Burns, the hospital’s chief of trauma. The medical center was treating 17 patients from the crash as of Monday evening, Cruz’s office told CNN. Two other injured people initially taken to South Shore were transferred to hospitals in Boston.

More details on the driver from the Quincy Patriot Ledger: ‘It was an accident’: Driver says his foot was stuck on accelerator in fatal Derby Street crash.

A 53-year-old man told police his foot got stuck on the accelerator of his 2019 Toyota 4Runner on Monday, causing him to plow into the Apple store at Derby Street Shops. One person was killed and at least 19 more were injured, including five who were taken to hospitals in Boston.

Bradley Rein, of 108 Bickerton Way in Hingham, faced Judge Heather Bradley in Hingham District Court on Tuesday on charges of motor vehicle homicide by reckless driving, a felony, and reckless driving, a misdemeanor. At his arraignment, bail was set at $100,000.

He is not allowed to drive while the case is pending, and he must seek permission of the court to leave the state. He is due back in court Dec. 22….

State Trooper Andrew Chiachio wrote in a police report, “While driving in the area of Barnes and Noble, Mr. Rein stated his right foot became stuck on the accelerator and his vehicle accelerated. Mr. Rein stated he used his left foot to try to brake, but was unable to stop the vehicle and crashed through the front of the Apple store.”

Chiachio said Rein told him he was at Derby Street Shops to repair a lens in his eyeglasses, which he was not wearing at the time of the crash. He was given an alcohol breath test at the police station, which registered a 0.00% blood alcohol level.

More Stories to check out today

The New York Times: Army Veteran Went Into ‘Combat Mode’ to Disarm the Club Q Gunman.

The Washington Post: From Europe, Trump special counsel takes over Mar-a-Lago, Jan. 6 probes.

CNN: Special counsel in Mar-a-Lago and January 6 investigations begins work with no sign probes will slow down.

The Bulwark: Mike Pence’s Day-By-Day Account of Trump’s Pressure Campaign Against Him.

The Washington Post: Graham at Ga. grand jury for testimony in probe of 2020 election.

The Daily Beast: Court Docs Rip Into DOJ for ‘Fiddling Away’ on Matt Gaetz Case.

The New York Times: Chaos on Twitter Leads a Group of Journalists to Start an Alternative.

Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post: Beware, DeSantis is as much a threat to America as Trump.

NBC News: Ian was one of the most lethal hurricanes in decades. Many of the deaths were preventable.

Vox: How one man quietly stitched the American safety net over four decades.

Ronald Brownstein at CNN: Why fewer states than ever could pick the next president.

That’s it for me. What stories are you following today?