Police in Fresno, California, arrested a suspected gunman on April 18 after he allegedly killed three people in a shooting spree in downtown Fresno (and may be responsible for a fourth, earlier murder as well).
The victims of the gunman, Kori Ali Muhammad, were all white and Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said that Muhammad had given “very detailed” information to them following his arrest that led police to believe his acts had been a hate crime. Dyer described him as “filled with hate, filled with anger.” According to the Los Angeles Times, who interviewed his relatives, Muhammad spoke of a race war between blacks and whites.
An anti-white animus was clearly present in Muhammad’s Facebook profile, which the Anti-Defamation League was able to examine, as was evidence of extreme Black Nationalism. Judging by his Facebook posts, Muhammad had many influences, ranging from Afrocentric New Age beliefs to Fard Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, but also had unique beliefs of his own.
Muhammad made posts, for example, that prophesied deadly cataclysms and natural disasters for whites—and demanded that black people in America be given the U.S. Virgin Islands and $17 trillion in order to avert such disasters. At times, Muhammad also appeared to dress like a prophet, complete with robes and staff.
Extreme Black Nationalist groups like the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army killed dozens of people, including many police officers, from the 1960s through the 1980s, but violent black nationalism decreased sharply after that, with only a few scattered incidents in subsequent decades. The United States instead faced much more serious violence from right-wing extremists and domestic Islamic extremists.
However, over the course of the past year, Black Nationalist violence has taken a deadly toll, responsible for the deaths of eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge in 2016. In July 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson, who had ties to black nationalist groups such as the New Black Panther Party, killed five police officers (and injured nine others) in Dallas, Texas, in an ambush attack aimed at police who were maintaining public order at a Black Lives Matter protest.
That same month, Gavin Eugene Long ambushed and shot six police officers, three of them fatally, in Baton Rouge. Long was also an adherent of black nationalism as well as the anti-government sovereign citizen movement. Both incidents were acts of retaliation against police officers in response to controversial police shootings of African-American men.
Less well publicized was a failed attempt by a black nationalist to kill even more police officers. In September 2016, Marc LeQuon Payne was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder and other charges after he allegedly deliberately tried to ram his vehicle into three Phoenix police officers outside a convenience store.
Like Muhammad, Payne displayed considerable anger and violent sentiment directed at whites. In April 2015, he made a social media post saying that “when the black man get [sic] ready to be free from whitey it will be war.” A few months later, he wrote that “The Caucasian needs to be slaughtered like the pigs that they are right along with the niggas who serve and protect them.”
It seems that Muhammad’s alleged shooting spree may have been just such a deliberate attempt to kill white people. However, in this case, unlike the previous incidents, the violence does not appear to have been an attempt at retaliation against law enforcement officers but rather was directed at random white people.
In each of the last two years, domestic extremists—mostly right-wing extremists and domestic Islamic extremists—have killed more people than in any year since 1995, the year of the Oklahoma City bombing. Adding Black Nationalist violence to the mix of deadly extremists can only make matters even worse.