After the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago, online threats quickly turn into real-world violence – TechCrunch

Threats of violence have reached their peak – reminiscent of the days leading up to the Capitol attack – following news that FBI raids Trump’s Florida beach club to retrieve classified documents the former president may have illegally obtained.

After Trump himself confirmed Monday’s raid at Mar-a-Lago, pro-Trump experts and politicians rallied declaration of “war”, and ardent Trump supporters have called for everything from the dismantling of federal law enforcement to acts of violence against its agents. The situation escalated from there in record time, with online rhetoric rapidly turning into real-world violence.

On Thursday, an armed man identified as Ricky Shiffer attempted to enter the FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio, brandishing a gun before fleeing. Law enforcement pursued Shiffer and he was shot dead in a subsequent dispute with police.

Analysts from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a nonprofit that researches extremism and disinformation, find evidence that Shiffer was motivated to commit acts of violence by “conspiring beliefs related to former President Trump and the 2020 election … interest in killing federal law enforcement and orders Recent searches were carried out at Mar-a-Lago earlier this week.” He was also reported was present at the attack on January 6 — another buzz between the escalating online threats this week and the tension culminating in political violence at the Capitol that day.

Shiffer appears to have been active on both Twitter and Truth Social, the platform from Trump’s media company that hosts the former president and his supporters. As Thursday’s attack unfolded, Shiffer appeared to post to Truth Social about how his plan to infiltrate the FBI office by piercing a ballistic glass barrier with a nail gun had gone awry. “Well, I thought I had a passage through bulletproof glass, but I didn’t,” the account posted on Thursday morning. “If you haven’t heard from me, it’s true that I tried to hack the FBI, and that means I got disconnected from the internet, the FBI caught me, or they sent the regular police…”

In posts on Truth Social, the account begged others to “get ready to kill the enemy” and “kill the FBI immediately” following Monday’s raid at Mar-a-Lago. It also urged followers to heed a “call to arms” to arm themselves and prepare for combat. “If you know of any protests or attacks, please post here,” the account claimed earlier this week.

By Friday, that account had been removed from the platform, and a search of Shiffer’s name mostly turned up content denouncing his actions. “Why are you censoring #rickyshiffer’s profile? Too much for #truth and #transparency,” one Truth Social user posted on Friday. However, online conspiracies surrounding the week’s events are still widely circulated on Truth Social and elsewhere, blame antifa for the attack on the FBI Ohio office, accuse the agency of planting documents at Mar-a-Lago and sow unfounded fears that the well-equipped IRS agent will descend on the Americans in the light of the adoption of the Friday House Inflation Reduction Act.

“’Violence against law enforcement is not the answer no matter what someone is upset about or who they are upset with,’ ‘ FBI Director Christopher Wray said: amid emerging threats of violence this week. Trump appointed Wray to the role in 2017 after infamously ousting former FBI director James Comey.

Friday is also the fifth anniversary of Unite the right rally, which saw white nationalists donned to Nazi images parade openly through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. The events that followed killed 32-year-old protester Heather Heyer and sent ripples of political shock through a nation that had become complacent about the smoldering threat of white extremist violence.

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