Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dylann Roof found guilty for his attack on a black church.

Dylann Roof shortly after his capture. Reuters. 

Dylann Roof has been found guilty of multiple crimes for his attack last year on a black church. New York Times. Roof killed nine people in a race based attack at a black church. Roof was convicted of the following crimes:
-Nine counts of hate crimes that resulted in deaths
-Three counts of hate crimes conducted in an attempt to kill (for the three survivors of the attack)
-Nine counts of obstructing religious practices resulting in deaths
-Three counts of obstructing religious practices in an attempt to kill
-Nine counts of murder using a firearm. 

The jury was expected to reach this verdict as there was very little chance for a defense for Roof. He confessed to the crimes and his defense lawyer has attempted to portray him as a troubled, mentally ill young man. The trail now moves on to the sentencing phase where Roof faces the death penalty. Roof has raised eyebrows by saying that he will represent himself during the sentencing phase. 

My Comment:
This is welcome news and not at all surprising. The evidence against Roof was rock solid and there was no chance of a jury not convicting him based on that evidence. There was always a chance of jury nullification, but I think even a jury of legit racists would have convicted Roof. Had he not been convicted the entire country would have exploded in anger and for once it would have been justified.This was the right call and it goes to show that sometimes the criminal justice system still works.  

Roof's crime was, of course, horrible. Regardless of your views on race and crime in the United States, there was never an excuse to attack a bunch of people at a church. And his entire plan was stupid as hell. If he was trying to start a race war he failed miserably since everyone else was going to agree that his victims were completely innocent. Even people that would have otherwise agreed with Roof's racial views would have been disgusted by his choice of target. 

If Roof really did have a problem with race based crime, why didn't he go into the inner city and shoot some actual criminals? My guess is he was a coward and was afraid that they would fight back. So he picked a place where he knew that there would be no one with a gun and probably nobody that would be willing to fight back. 

I also have to say that I consider Roof's attack to be terrorism. This was a political attack, plain and simple. I also consider the attacks against cops in Dallas and Baton Rouge to be terrorism as well. Even though the attackers in all of those cases had opposite ideologies as Roof, they and Roof himself were just as much terrorists as Omar Mateen or Syed Farook. I am actually kind of disappointed that Roof wasn't charged with terrorism as well, but considering all the other crimes he committed, I guess it doesn't matter. 

I read Roof's manifesto right after it was released and it was pretty bad. You could tell that Roof wasn't very smart and didn't have very good arguments. That, along with his choice of target, tells me that he was basically a moron. Smart enough to pull off an attack like this, but not smart enough to do much of anything else. 

Indeed, I think his attack backfired in terms of advancing his beliefs. If anything he made it more difficult for people to be racist as people didn't want to be associated with a movement that killed a bunch of innocent people. He even made the Confederate flag a social faux pas and if it hadn't been for Black Lives Matter and the associated terror attacks targeting police, his attack may have actually helped race relations in this country. It may have caused some people to reconsider their beliefs, but not in the way he wanted. 

As for the trial, it now moves on to the sentencing phase. Roof is eligible for the death penalty and I can't imagine he wouldn't get it. You would have to be a die hard opponent of the death penalty to not give it to Dylann Roof and even a few opponents of the death penalty would probably choose to sentence him to death. I've always been uncomfortable with the death penalty itself, not so much that I call myself and opponent but enough that I am not upset that my state doesn't have it, but if I was on this jury I would have no problem with sending Roof to his death. 

Still there is always a chance that Roof could have gotten lucky and gotten a death penalty opponent on the jury. What happens then? Well he will go to prison for the rest of his life and I don't see him doing well there. I doubt he will get put into general population given how much of a target he would be for pretty much everyone and how weak physically he appears to be. My guess is that he would be in solitary confinement for the rest of his life, which honestly sounds to be worse then getting a lethal injection. 

Honestly though, the jury is probably going to be under incredible pressure to sentence him to death. I know if I was on that jury I wouldn't want to be known as one of the people that let Roof "off the hook" even though he was convicted. Certain people would be incredibly angry that he didn't get the sentence allowed by law and would probably threaten the people on the jury if they don't. That's obviously not right either, if a jury doesn't want to sentence someone to die they shouldn't be punished for it, but the threat has to be running through the jury's heads right now... 

Either way though, I am glad that this seems to have been a one off attack. Since Roof I haven't heard of any other racial based attacks inspired by him. Sure there have been plenty of attacks but most of those were inspired by Islamic ideology, and not racial animosity. Roof's plan for a larger racial war has failed largely because White people aren't interested in killing Black people. Regardless of what Black Lives Matter says, most people aren't racist and even those people that are generally aren't in favor of Nazi style race wars. Roof didn't change that and if that was his goal then he was an idiot. 

In somewhat of a tangent, I have to point out that the Sandy Hook shootings happened about four years ago. While mass shootings are still a problem, the reasons why people do these things has changed. In the past it was lone weirdos like Adam Lanza trying to get back at society for their crappy lives. If there was a political aspect at all it was some vague anger at society. 

The memetics of mass shootings have changed now. Now it seems like every mass killing has a political aspect to it. Almost every attack that I remember recently has been for political reasons. Roof was an anti-black racist. Micah X. Johnson, the Dallas attacker was an anti-white, anti-cop racist. Omar Mateen, the Pulse nightclub shooter, was an ISIS operative. Even Eliot "Supreme Gentleman" Rodgers had a manifesto and could be classed as a political terrorist... kind of. He hated women and Asians though he seems straddles the line between the "lone weirdo" and the "political" types of shooters. 

I really think that the day of some angry kid picking up a gun and shooting a bunch of people at a school is gone. These days such an act would be seen as political and the kind of person that would have in the past attacked may choose not to avoid the terrorist label. Either that or they would have adopted one of the many ideologies that would not condemn such an attack. It's a chicken vs egg problem, but either way I do think that as the rate of political attacks increase the more traditional weird loner ones will subside. I hope I am right, though it's not like having a bunch of political terror attacks is much of an improvement...

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