The chat logs of a white supremacist group reveal thousands of disturbing commentaries, including praise for one of its own members for the murder of a gay Jewish teen earlier this year.
Blaze Bernstein, 19, was killed in January by white supremacist Samuel Woodward. Bernstein’s body was found in Orange County, California. The two had gone to high school together, and investigators discovered that Bernstein may have believed that Woodward’s attempts to reconnect were a sign of interest in him.
It appears that was a ruse. When confronted by police, Woodward was adamant in his hatred of Bernstein, over both his sexuality as well as his Jewish heritage. He was arrested shortly after.
Chat logs obtained by ProPublica and published over the weekend revealed how far that hatred went. Woodward frequently voiced his own bigoted beliefs, railing against “mongrels and jews” and gays, according to their reporting.
Even more disturbing was the extent to which Woodward was cheered on by members of the same group, which calls itself “Atomwaffen Division” (“atomwaffen” is German for “nuclear weapons”).
One member of the group praised Woodward, calling him a “one-man gay Jew wrecking crew.” Some said they hoped that others would copy his crimes. Another member suggested that Bernstein “deserved” to die but called Woodward’s actions stupid.
“Just simply not worth a life in prison for,” that member explained.
The group’s leadership also said they saw Woodward’s actions as the start of something bigger.
“We’re only going to inspire more ‘copycat crimes’ in the name of AWD. All we have to do is spread our image and our propaganda,” Sean Michael Fernandez, a leader of the group from Texas, wrote. “I couldn't have planned this better, seriously.”
Members of the group have been perpetrating similar acts of violence in the past year. Over the last nine months, four members of the group have killed five individuals.
This group’s sick interactions, and its celebration of another human losing his life, demonstrate that hate is very much a reality that needs to be confronted. These examples of vitriol simply do not have a place in our society, and organizations like ProPublica and others are rightfully shining a light on them to expose just how terrifying these people’s viewpoints really are.
Criminal prosecutions ought to be considered, especially against those who are conspiring violence against others. At the very least, their comments warrant a further look into members’ activities outside of the online community.