Violent extremist rhetoric online surges after Mar-a-Lago search

Hours earlier a man identified by two police sources as Ricky Shiffer he died in a confrontation with the forces of order after he tried to break into the FBI field office in Cincinnati on Thursday, Shiffer appeared to post on former President Donald Trump’s social media platform “TRUTH Social” to express his desire to kill federal agents.

The post, which has since been removed by the site’s moderators, appeared soon after the FBI searched the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence on Monday.

“When they come for you, kill them,” the suspect wrote. “Be an American, not a cow.”

Shiffer was in Washington, DC on or around January 6, 2021, although he was not arrested after the attack on the United States Capitol.

The posts represent a small fraction of the violent extremist content flooding far-right message boards and social media platforms in the wake of the FBI search of the Mar-a-Lago resort. Phrases like “civil war” and “lock and load” trended on Telegram channels, Gab, Reddit and TheDonald, a forum popular with Trump supporters. Also Growing: Anti-Semitic Slurs Threaten Florida Magistrate Who Signed Search Warrant Allowing FBI To Search And Seize boxes and documents of potentially classified material from the former president’s house. At this point, the volume of rhetoric has not reached the same levels as in the days leading up to the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

The threats ranged from attacks on the FBI and those involved in the case to calls for Trump supporters to take up arms against the government.

“Urban box, soap box, jury box and ammo box… choices are getting limited,” one user wrote. “Time to take up arms and take down the FBI,” wrote another.

“There was just an explosion of angry rhetoric in right-wing media, right-wing social media accounts,” Jessica Reaves, editorial director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told CBS News. “What’s most remarkable to us is the uniformity of the calls for civil war across extremist and … ‘mainstream’ platforms and people, you know, at all levels, in the space of right”.

Reaves continued, “What we’re seeing today is a volume and a kind of tone that we haven’t seen … in at least 18 months, maybe longer.”

Users of far-right platforms, pro-Trump message boards and Twitter threatened the Florida magistrate and shared what appeared to be the judge’s home address and phone numbers and the names and photos of potential members of the family The threats, first uncovered by the non-profit research group Advancing Democracy Inc., were also shared on social media by the far-right militia group the Proud Boys and another militia group, the Three Percenters .

In addition, users have seized on reports that, when he was practicing law, the judge represented employees of convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, fueling the falsehood. A non-driven narrative that there is a group of pedophiles and Satan worshipers who run a worldwide sex-trafficking operation.

The judge’s bio page was taken offline this week after users on far-right platforms “doxxed” the judge by posting his contact information alongside the threatening messages.

Anger surrounding Trump’s false claims about a stolen 2020 election has not abated among his staunchest supporters, Rita Katz, CEO of Site Intelligence Group, which tracks online extremists, told CBS News, but he also said the level of extremism online has been “. t still matches the pre-gen. 6 furor.

Katz noted that “While the incitement and themes of this dangerous speech are indeed similar to those seen prior to the January 6th Capitol riots, we have yet to see it reach the same volume and prevalence.” .

But he added: “There is much progress to come and we must not work under the naive assumption that a similar event could not happen again.”

Although the language of Republican lawmakers is more muted, experts on extremism point out that the violent rhetoric reflects ideas spread on far-right platforms with statements that paint the US government as a “banana republic” or “police state” .

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, assumed that the action of the forces of law enforcement at Mar-a-Lago marked an “escalation in the weaponization of the federal agencies against the political opponents of the Regime”.

“Failure is not an option,” Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted Monday. “We must destroy the FBI. We must save America. I stand with Donald J. Trump.”

“One day what happens will happen,” wrote Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. “And then we will become Nicaragua under Ortega,” the Florida lawmaker added in an apparent comparison to the leader known for imprisoning political opponents.

In a press conference announcing Thursday his department was asking a federal judge for permission to seal the search warrant used by federal agents to seize documents from Trump, Attorney General Merrick Garland defended the work of FBI agents and those involved in the case.

“The men and women of the FBI and the Department of Justice are patriotic and dedicated public servants,” Garland said. “Every day, they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism and other threats to their security, while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a statement late Thursday condemning the “violence and threats,” adding that “baseless attacks on the integrity of the FBI erode respect for the state of right”.

“Every day I see the men and women of the FBI doing their jobs professionally and with rigor, objectivity and a fierce commitment to our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution,” Wray wrote. “I am proud to serve alongside him.”

— Andy Triay, Rob Legare and Pat Milton contributed to this post.

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