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FBI Strongmen: The US State Apparatus, Eroded Civil Liberties, and Disarmed Dissent

By Charlotte Forrester5/30/2022
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Within two weeks of each other – two mass shootings have taken place in the United States. The first – in a grocery store in Buffalo, NY; the second – in an elementary school in Uvalde, TX. While these shootings were approximately 1,700 miles apart, both tragedies are eerily similar. Not only the fact that both shooters were deeply troubled 18 year old men, but their self loathing and aggression were exploited by federal agents. This was certainly the case for Peyton Gendron who, four years prior to the shooting, had threatened to commit gun violence at his high school and was subsequently put through psychiatric observation. The other shooter, Salvador Ramos, whose motivations are not yet known, is not reported to have suffered from any mental illnesses. Yet, the slow response from the police to the shooting at Robb Elementary School is suspicious in itself, almost as if they knew ahead of time or were looking to capitalize on the tragedy in order to justify a more draconian police state.

It also seems that the American Mental Health Crisis is being exploited by the state apparatus, through coercion and psychological manipulation – as if home grown terrorists are being engineered. Social outcasts who commit violent acts are being used as wild card foot soldiers in the media. This gives the state apparatus more leverage to crack down on our civil liberties by kidnapping and locking up people who are deemed suspicious, simply because they suffer overtly from mental illnesses. In reality, most people with mental illnesses are quite harmless and are actually more vulnerable to violence from others. This violation of the human rights of mentally ill people is often used as a precedent to crack down on political dissidents who are labeled as “conspiracy theorists.”

Speaking of conspiracy theories, local Buffalo news sources, such as the Buffalo News, have stated that the local authorities suspected a retired federal agent knew ahead of time of Gendron’s racially motivated murder at Tops Friendly Market. The authorities told the Buffalo News that the troubled young man has been interacting with six like minded people on a Discord channel, including a mysterious member called “Armand.” Armand is the username of the alleged federal agent that Gendron has been communicating with and was encouraging the young man to go through the shootings following a failed attempt caused by a gun jam. Gendron has revealed he had suicidal thoughts after expressing doubts about whether or not to carry out the shootings. However, instead of being the supportive friend Gendron was seeking in Armand, the elusive Discord contact scolded him for questioning his own motives. Gendron’s motivations for the mass shootings were in fact ideological. He wrote a 180 page manifesto supporting the “Great Replacement Theory” – an actually conspiratorial idea that blames society’s woes on a purported attempt by Jewish elites to demographically replace white people with non-white people, especially those from Muslim-majority countries. The manifesto uses the insignia of the Black Sun, a facist symbol used by German Nazis and later Neo-Nazis, including the Azov Battalion. Believe it or not, this would not be the first time the FBI was suspected of grooming mentally unstable young men into committing domestic terrorism.

Back in 2018, 23 year old Jerry Drake Varnell was taken into custody after planning to detonate an explosive van outside of an Oklahoma bank. His mother accused the FBI of setting Varnell up because his paranoid schizophrenia was well documented by the State of Oklahoma; “What the public should be looking at is the fact that the FBI gave our son the means to make this happen. He has no job, no money, no vehicle, and no driver’s license, due to the fact that he is schizophrenic and we; his parents do everything we can possible to keep him safe and functional….. He has suffered through countless serious full-blown schizophrenic delusional episodes and he has been put in numerous mental hospitals since he was 16 years old. The FBI came and picked him up from our home, they gave him a vehicle, gave him a fake bomb, and every means to make this happen none of which he had access to on his own.” Federal agencies are often granted permission to gather as much data as needed to “foil the next right wing militia terrorist.” Jerry Drake Varnell described himself as a “Three Percenter” – part of a right wing anti-government movement that advocates for the violent overthrow of the federal government.

It is indeed strange how the US government and mainstream media condemn right wing domestic terrorists while glorifying the “brave” Ukrainian soldiers fighting against the Russian “aggressors.” Or perhaps not it is not so strange, since parallels can be drawn with the 1980’s, when the US media were applauding the “brave freedom fighters” of the Mujahideen against the Soviet “aggressors.” In other words, the US government and media only condemn fascists when they do not serve the interests of the US state apparatus and capital. Only in America, the police can lie to citizens by claiming to “protect and serve”, until they were needed to protect and serve the children that were being murdered by Ramos. The police seem to have been purposefully slow in their hour-long wait to respond, only to finally shoot him dead when the assailant ran out of ammo. Why were they so slow to act? One might suspect that they knew of Ramos’s plan to slaughter those 21 people – at least Texas Representative Tony Gonzales suspects this. During an interview with Fox News, Gonzales claimed that Ramos was arrested when he was 14 years old for threatening to “shoot up a school” when he was a senior in 2022. However, there are no official arrest records of the shooter. It still gets stranger with the revelation that the Uvalade school district was part of an AI program, Social Sentinel, that followed its students’ social media activities.

The purpose of the AI program, as stated in a Daily Mail article, is to track down potential dangerous threats based on social media conversations. Somehow they missed Ramos’s instagram account which featured AR-15 rifles before the shooting. One thing is for sure though – The program’s parent company, Navigate 360, made a killing from government subsidies amidst the tragedy that darkened the halls of Robb Elementary School. You cannot market an “anti-mass shooter” prevention app if there are no mass shootings; and you cannot sell a fascist surveillance state if there are no acts of domestic terrorism.

Charlotte Forrester

Charlotte Forrester is a writer (essayist, poet, and editorialist), pin-up model, political coordinator, and avid cyclist based on Long Island, NY. She is a fierce autistic self-advocate, as well as the co-president of SYNA (Students and Youth for a New America) Long Island who is an admirer of the GDR (German Democratic Republic) history and recently started studying Juche ideology. She hopes to go back to school to get her PhD in Social Psychology in order to make the case that elitism and greed are public health emergencies.