This weekend, eight more people lost their lives in a brutal shooting at a mall in Allen,Texas, which was apparently motivated, at least in part, by white supremacy and neo-Nazi ideology. And so many more are traumatized and devastated from losing family members, witnessing the massacre, and seeing horribly graphic images circulating online by irresponsible social media companies.
No matter how many times we warn authorities, technology companies, and lawmakers that far-right extremist violence will happen again if steps are not taken, we’re still shocked and crushed each time we have to report on these tragedies. In the case of the Texas shooter, Mauricio Garcia, it appears that we’re dealing with a number of factors that we know to be hallmarks of violent attackers.
Garcia spread white supremacist and vile racist and misogynistic material online, largely on the Russian social media site, OK. And he seemed to admire rabid racists like Andrew Anglin and reference Anglins’ neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer. He was also wearing a RWDS patch on his shirt when he murdered the shoppers at the mall. This stands for Right Wing Death Squad and is commonly used by violent far-right groups, including the Proud Boys. Garcia had been forcibly discharged from the military for mental health reasons. And he was able to later take weapons training and purchase weapons.
These are all issues that we at Global Project Against Hate and Extremism continue to address to try to stem the tide of far-right violence. Our team at GPAHE is currently analyzing years’ worth of social media posts to help us better understand Garcia’s radicalization process and motivations. We’re also analyzing how the far-right movement is reacting to this attack.
Law enforcement, tech companies, lawmakers, and civil society must work collectively to curb far-right violent extremism before more lives are lost.
Image: Community members gather for a prayer vigil, Sunday, May 7, 2023, in Allen, Texas, after a mass shooting the day before.