As the American writer Kilroy J. Oldster once wrote: “Hate springs from fear. Behind every hateful crime and act of human brutality is an admission of fearfulness.” In a recent case, a U.K. teen responsible for creating racist content, deeply influenced by a neo-Nazi who recorded himself murdering Black people in a Buffalo grocery store, serves 11 and a half years in prison.
For creating neo-Nazi video propaganda that advocated terrorism, Daniel John Harris, 19, will spend the next decade behind bars. His sentence warns those who choose to develop and spread hateful messages of racism and violence.
At least seven mentions occurred of Harris and his work by the shooter who live-streamed his murder of ten people at a grocery store in May 2022. Additionally, gunman Anderson Lee Aldrich responsible for shooting a gay nightclub in Colorado, killing five and injuring 17, reportedly consumed them. This serves as a dire reminder that hateful speech people produce and spread can have real-world consequences and should be of grave concern.
Daniel Harris Was Aware Of His Actions
The arrest of Harris took place on May 16, 2022, two days following the attack in Buffalo, and the U.K. teen pleaded guilty in December. Late last week, he was sentenced. Daniel’s sentencing confirms the severity of the crime. It highlights the need for global collaboration of law enforcement agencies to take swift and decisive action against the white supremacy movement.
A fairly long diary the Buffalo mass murderer kept during the days preceding the shooting also references Harris’ videos. Within the shooter’s online journal, he wrote, “Shout out to (Harris’ online name) thank you for your service.” This suggests that Harris’ videos inspired the shooter and likely directly influenced his motivations for committing the mass murder.
According to the authorities, the teenager was aware of the deadly consequences of his actions.
“The threat he posed became such that we had to act in order to ensure the safety of the wider public. The reference to one of his videos in the prelude to the Buffalo attack is a case in point,” said Counter-Terrorism Detective Inspector Chris Brett. “Harris could see the reaction his videos were getting. This was not a one-off, this was not a game, this was a concerted effort to generate a following and influence people.”
U.K. Teen Was Not Only Trying To Attract Attention
Furthermore, the U.K. teen was not content with simply drawing attention. Police allege that Harris attempted to turn his influence into a tangible weapon by using a 3D printer to create a handgun. These propagandists are using persuasive techniques to mislead and manipulate vulnerable populations, thus posing a severe threat to our global security.
“Harris’ arrest shows the international nature of the violent online extreme right, especially the subset of individuals who glorify attackers such as the Christchurch terrorist,” Joshua Fisher-Birch, an analyst on the far-right at the Counter-Extremism Project, told VICE News. “While many of these individuals are concerned with committing attacks in their area, they are also part of this online community that seeks to encourage violence in other locations in the name of white supremacism.”
Violence – Inciting Incidents
According to Fisher-Birch, there have been other cases of supporters facing arrest for their part in inspiring extremists of the far right worldwide.
A Slovakian man, for instance, was sentenced to six years in November 2022 for his involvement in terrorist acts, and Fisher-Birch asserts that he was “an important player within the international neo-Nazi accelerationist online community and spread information helpful in committing terrorist attacks.”
In another similar instance, in February 2019, Benjamin Bogard, a college student from New Braunfels, Texas, was arrested on child pornography charges after an anonymous online tipster alerted federal authorities to his Instagram account, which featured numerous videos of him clutching weapons and threatening violence against minorities.
Neo-Nazi Videos By The U.K. Teen Remain Online
It is still possible to find remnants of Harris’s online presence, as many of the videos the U.K. teen posted can be viewed on streaming platforms with lax moderation policies. It’s like picking through a post-apocalyptic landscape to find bits and pieces of the civilization that once was. The remains of ancient artifacts are still present from time to time, but they are only a shadow of what once existed.
Among his videos are a feature-length video celebrating the Christchurch shooter and videos advocating anti-vaccination and untruths regarding COVID. As a final video, Daniel celebrated the Buffalo killings. On a Neo-Nazi video platform where the Buffalo shooter participated, only one video resonated, one where the teenager explicitly called for “subhuman” killings.
The judge who handled the case described the teenager as an extremely dangerous young man who produced obscene artwork. Also, he believes that the killers accomplished exactly what Harris intended them to do.
“You intended to encourage terrorism, and it’s plain that what was being encouraged was lethal, racist, and antisemitic violence, as well as violence against the gay community,” said Judge Patrick Field KC, according to the BBC.
Sending A Message
It can be daunting to think that no matter where we go, we could be in danger of encountering those who choose hatred and violence. The world flourishes with hatred and violence. It can be challenging to understand why some people express their hatred violently.
We must find ways to prevent and address these hateful acts to create a safer world for everyone. Our world is sinful, and there is no perfect world. Educating ourselves, our families, and our communities about the dangers of hate and violence is ideal. We should also take action whenever we witness acts of violence. All grieving families are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.