Friday, June 5, 2020 | 2 a.m.
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Never forget this: Radical right-wing extremists tried to attack Las Vegas and kill our citizens this week.
Consistently and indiscriminately, the violent right wing targets our city. Targets you. And your children. And your friends. All of us. The violent right wing is the enemy of Las Vegas.
The threat posed by right-wing extremist groups across the United States comes into full, dreadful view in a criminal complaint filed against three men arrested in Las Vegas this past weekend for allegedly plotting to spark rioting during Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
The arrests of these men — identified as Stephen “Kiwi” Parshall, 35, Andrew Lynam, 23, and William Loomis, 40 — tears the mask off of President Donald Trump’s lie that left-leaning groups are responsible for the violence and destruction that have broken out in protests over the death of George Floyd. The three are allegedly tied to the Boogaloo Bois, a group that agitates for widespread civil war and violence against law enforcement.
Among the accusations outlined in the complaint:
• The three discussed firebombing an NV Energy power substation on May 28 to “create civil unrest and rioting throughout Las Vegas.”
• On May 23, Parshall and Loomis scouted out a ranger station at Lake Mead National Recreation Area with the intent of later destroying it as a “trial run” for a larger attack.
• At a “reopen Nevada” protest in mid-May, the three turned up armed and were plotting to use fireworks and smoke bombs to spur a confrontation between police and protesters, but didn’t follow through.
• At last Friday’s protest in Las Vegas, Lynam yelled in the faces of Metro Police officers in hopes of starting a confrontation, while Parshall worked the other side, agitating protesters to become violent.
• Angered that there were no deaths or serious injuries Friday, the three went to Saturday’s protests with plans and materials to throw Molotov cocktails at police. They were arrested with bottles of gasoline, shop rags to be used as wicks, fireworks, a 12-gauge shotgun and shells, a pistol and an AR-15 assault-type rifle with six magazines.
Authorities said the men planned to throw the Molotov cocktails if police set off tear gas, but were arrested before they could do any harm. Considering that police did fire tear gas after the men were taken into custody, we can only wonder what might have happened if the arrests hadn’t occurred when they did.
We narrowly avoided a terrorist attack.
For that, credit goes to the Las Vegas Joint Terrorism Task Force. An undercover FBI agent connected with the task force overheard the men discussing their plot Saturday, which triggered the arrests.
But the men had been on the radar for weeks. Authorities said a confidential informant met Lynam and Parshall at a “reopen Nevada” protest in mid-April, where Lyman allegedly told the informant that “their group was not for joking around and that it was for people who wanted to violently overthrow the United States government.”
Think of this the next time Trump demonizes the left and provides cover for groups like the Boogaloo Bois, the neo-fascist Proud Boys, white nationalists, etc.
Trump and Attorney General William Barr keep talking about antifa, while the FBI has said antifa hasn’t been involved so far. Meanwhile, right-wing forces have been directly implicated in violence and attempted violence. Extremist social media on the right is rife with calls to try to exploit the protests to create violence. Furthermore, right-wingers were kicked off of social media for creating fake antifa accounts.
Let’s be clear: Violence is unacceptable, wherever it comes from. But as the arrests of Parshall, Lynam and Loomis demonstrate, the presence of violent right-wing extremists elevates the need to protect peaceful citizens. Thank heaven that protection was provided by authorities Saturday, but that hasn’t universally been the case across the country.
In Las Vegas, the uncomfortable truth is that right-wing extremism is a persistent and alarming problem in our community. It’s shown itself numerous times, including:
• The 2014 shooting rampage of Jerad and Amanda Miller, in which Metro officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck were killed along with a local resident who confronted the Millers, Joseph Wilcox. The Millers, who committed suicide during the incident, were anti-government extremists who had joined right-wing militia groups in supporting Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his standoff with federal officials and local law enforcement.
• In 2018, ProPublica revealed strong ties between Nevada and the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen, which had been connected to five murders and a plot to blow up a nuclear power facility in Florida. The group, which embraces hatred of Jews and minorities, was highly active in Nevada, including holding a three-day “hate camp” for training on weapons and hand-to-hand fighting.
• The recent arrest and conviction of avowed white supremacist Conor Climo for planning bomb and shooting attacks on a synagogue and an LGBT bar in Las Vegas. In pleading guilty to charges related to the plots, Climo acknowledged being a member of an offshoot of Aromwaffen.
Now come the arrests from Saturday, which, assuming the accusations are accurate, again underscore the need to root out right-wing extremism in our state.
It’s a lethal threat, including to the law enforcement officers who protect us. It must be stopped.