By Farooq A. Kperogi
Now the real threats
A few months before Barack Obama was elected president, there were at least three high-profile attempts by white supremacists to assassinate him.
The first real, publicly known threat to assassinate Obama was posed by a 22-year-old man by the name of Raymond Hunter Geisel who lives in Miami, in the state of Florida. The U.S. Secret Service said Geisel kept a cache of military hardware with which he threatened to assassinate Obama.
Geisel allegedly called Obama a disparaging racial epithet and boasted: "If he gets elected, I'll assassinate him myself." This was in early August this year.
Then, in late August, in Denver, the capital city of the state of Colorado where Obama won a surprise victory on November 4, a group of men with guns and bulletproof vests were stopped in the tracks in their attempt to assassinate Obama during the Democratic National Convention where he formally accepted the nomination of his party.
How were they caught? Law enforcement officers were on a routine duty when they saw a car swerving lanes recklessly. So they stopped the car. It turned out that the occupants of the car were Obama’s would-be assassins. In the suspects’ car, law enforcement officers found two high-powered scoped rifles, ammunition, sighting scopes, radios, a cell phone, a bulletproof vest, wigs, drugs, and fake IDs.
After intense questioning, they confessed that they had intended to shoot Obama dead while he was delivering his acceptance speech before a live TV audience. One of the suspects told authorities they were "going to shoot Obama from a high vantage point using a ... rifle … sighted at 750 yards."
They then told the officers that there was another accomplice staying at a nearby hotel. The agents went to the hotel. When they knocked on the man's door, he jumped out of his sixth-floor window and broke his ankle. But he was subsequently arrested.
And on November 3, just a day before Election Day, a plot by two white supremacists in Tennessee to murder not just Obama but other black people was nipped in the bud by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
According to a Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the Bureau’s Nashville field office (Nashville is the capital city of the state of Tennessee), the two white supremacists planned to first kill 88 black people, including 14 by beheading and then later assassinate Obama.
What’s special about the numbers 88 and 14? Well, according to people who study racist hate groups in America, the numbers 88 and 14 have a symbolic significance in the white supremacist community.
The number 14 refers to a 14-word phrase ascribed to a currently jailed white supremacist iconic figure: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children" and to the eighth letter of the alphabet, H. Two "8"s or "H"s stand for "Heil Hitler."
"They said that would be their last, final act — that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama," Cavanaugh said. "They didn't believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying." Legal documents also show that the would-be Obama assassins "planned to drive their vehicle as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows."
Assassination threats increase after victory
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes in America, Obama’s election has so far instigated over 200 death threats and race-related incidents. And these are only the incidents that are in the public domain.
The Christian Science Monitor reported that although threats against new presidents historically spike after an election, the threats against Obama have assumed “a record in modern presidential elections.”
Since November 4, a plethora of racist threats against Obama have spiraled all across the country, giving fodder to fears that Obama’s life is in danger in more ways than any president in America’s recent history.
The scary thing is that threats to Obama are manifest even among white elementary school kids. For instance, in the town of Rexburg in the deeply conservative state of Idaho where Obama lost soundly, the nation was alarmed to read the story of a bunch of elementary school kids who were chanting “Assassinate Obama! Assassinate Obama!” in the school bus.
Of course, 3rd grade kids don’t know what the word “assassinate” means; they were merely parroting what they had heard from adult conversations either at home or in school—or both.
And in a rural town called Snellville here in the state of Georgia, a white boy on the school bus said to his 9-year-old black classmate the day after the election: "I hope Obama gets assassinated." This became a national story after the black girl’s mother alerted the media.
I think it speaks to the intensity of the threats against Obama that even little kids who are ordinarily not politically conscious are advocating the elimination of their president-elect.
Again, a day after Obama’s victory, a black high school student named Barbara Tyler of Marietta, a suburb of Atlanta, told newsmen that she heard hateful Obama comments from her white colleagues, and that teachers cut off discussion about Obama's victory in the classroom.
Another student, from a school here in Atlanta, said he was suspended for wearing an Obama shirt to school on November 5. The student's mother, Eshe Riviears, told newsmen that the principal told her: "Whether you like it or not, we're in the South, and there are a lot of people who are not happy with this decision."
Similarly, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in a town called Allison Park in the state of Pennsylvania, a student said a day after the election, a teacher launched a vitriolic rant against Obama in the class and said Obama was going to be shot and killed. The teacher has been suspended.
But these school incidents are mild compared to the other threats out there.
In Milwaukee, in the state of Wisconsin, police officials found a poster of Obama with a bullet pointed toward his head. Perhaps the biggest shocker was that this was found in a police station— in a place where everybody, not least the president of the country, should be safe!
And in the state of North Carolina, four students of the North Carolina State University students admitted writing anti-Obama comments in a tunnel, including one that said: "Let's shoot that nigger in the head."
At a town called Standish in the state of Maine, a sign inside a store read: "Osama Obama Shotgun Pool." Customers could sign up to bet $1 on a date when Obama would be killed. "Stabbing, shooting, roadside bombs, they all count," the sign said. At the bottom of the marker board was written: "Let's hope someone wins."
In Los Angeles, California, racial slurs against Obama were sprayed on cars, houses and sidewalks, including: "Go Back To Africa."
University of Alabama professor Marsha L. Houston said a poster of the Obama family was ripped off her office door. A replacement poster was defaced with a death threat and a racial slur. "It seems the election brought the racist rats out of the woodwork," Houston said.
Another way racists vented their spleen was through the symbolic hanging of black figures from trees. The Bangor Daily News reported on these incidents in many places in the state of Maine. A similar incident was reported in Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
A black teenager in New York City said he was attacked with a bat on election night by four white men who shouted 'Obama.'
In the Pittsburgh suburb of Forest Hills, a black man said he found a note with a racial slur on his car windshield, saying "now that you voted for Obama, just watch out for your house."
To be continued