A newly discovered website with a white-supremacist manifesto and numerous photos appears to offer the first serious look at Dylann Roof’s thinking.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dylann Roof spat on and burned the American flag, but waved the Confederate battle flag.
He posed for pictures wearing a No. 88 T-shirt, had 88 Facebook friends and wrote that number — white-supremacist code for “Heil Hitler”— in the South Carolina sand.
A website discovered Saturday appears to offer the first serious look at Roof’s thinking, including how the case of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed, black Florida teenager shot to death in 2012 by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood-watch volunteer, triggered his racist rage.
The site shows a stash of 60 photographs of Roof, many at Confederate heritage sites or slavery museums, and includes a racist manifesto in which the author criticized blacks as being inferior while lamenting the cowardice of white flight.
Most Read Nation & World Stories
- The $3,000-a-month toilet for the Ivanka Trump/Jared Kushner Secret Service detail
- Prosecutors say the 'QAnon Shaman' left an ominous note for Mike Pence during riot
- Vaccine reserve was already exhausted when Trump administration vowed to release it, dashing hopes of expanded access
- EXPLAINER: What's next after House impeachment vote
- Trump opens habitat of northern spotted owl to timber harvesting
“I have no choice,” it reads. “I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
Glimpse into hatred
The website was registered Feb. 9 in the name of Dylann Roof, 21, who is accused of entering a black church in Charleston on Wednesday night, attending a prayer meeting for an hour, then killing nine people there. The day after the site was registered, the registration information was intentionally masked.
It is not clear whether the manifesto was written by Roof or if he had control of it. Nor is it clear whether he took the pictures with a timer, or if someone else took them.
The FBI and Charleston police officials say they are examining the site.
But if it is genuine, as his friends seem to think, the tourist sites he visited, the pictures that were posted and the hate-filled words filling the site offered a glimpse into the interests of an unemployed high-school dropout said to have a fixation on race and a murderous rage.
“This whole racist thing came into him within the past five years,” said Caleb Brown, a childhood friend of Roof’s who is half black. “He was never really popular; he accepted that. He wasn’t like, ‘When I grow up I am going to show all these kids.’ He accepted who he was, and who he was changed, obviously.”
Roof has been charged with nine counts of murder in connection with the killings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Victims included the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was both the church pastor and a state senator.
Roof is being held at the Charleston County jail, along with a North Charleston police officer charged with shooting an unarmed African-American motorist, Walter Scott, in the back in April.
Roof’s friends say he recently warned that he planned to do something crazy with the .45-caliber handgun he had purchased with the money he got from his parents for his 21st birthday. They say he was bothered by the uproar surrounding the Martin case.
The website linked to Roof features a photo of a bloodied dead white man on the floor. The picture appears to be a shot from “Romper Stomper,” an Australian movie about neo-Nazis.
The site was discovered by a blogger who goes by the pen name Emma Quangel.
The blogger was inspired by another Twitter user to pay $49 for a reverse domain search that turned up the site.
According to Web server logs, the manifesto was last modified at 4:44 p.m. local time on Wednesday, the day of the Charleston shootings, and the essay notes: “at the time of writing I am in a great hurry.”
Began with Web search
The manifesto says: “The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was,” the essay says. “It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words ‘black on White crime’ into Google, and I have never been the same since that day.”
The account cites the website of the far-right Council of Conservative Citizens as a site he learned from.
A friend of Roof’s, Jacob Meek, 15, said the references to the Martin case made it clear Roof had written the essay.
“That’s his website,” Meek said. “He wrote it, and I just can tell.”
Watchdog groups that track right-wing extremism say the manifesto reflects the language found in white-supremacist forums online and dovetails with what has been said about Roof thus far: that he had self-radicalized and that he did not belong to a particular hate group.
“It’s clear that he was extremely receptive to those ideas,” said Mark Pitcavage, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “At the same time, he does not have a sophisticated knowledge of white supremacy.”
In one picture, Roof is shown posing with wax figures of slaves. In others, he posed with a handgun that appears to be a .45-caliber Glock.
He had a .45-caliber Glock in his car when he was arrested Thursday in North Carolina, police said.
Roof is alone in all the photos, which show a slave plantation; Sullivan’s Island, S.C.; and the Museum and Library of Confederate History in Greenville, S.C.
He sports the same gloomy look in many of the photos, but others are nature scenes and vacation photographs.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s glossary of racist skinhead terms, the letter H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 is a code for “Heil, Hitler.”