The group’s targets included journalists, a historic black church in Virginia, an Islamic center in Texas, a former US cabinet member, and Old Dominion University, which Kelley previously attended. In November 2018, Kelley suggested that the group target his school, creating a bomb hazard on campus.
“Swatting attacks are serious crimes that disrupt the operation of local emergency agencies, divert first responders from real emergencies, and put victims, community members and law enforcement officers at great risk,” said Raj Parekh, acting US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in of publication.
Kelley’s condemnation is the latest development in the nation’s reckoning with racially motivated hate crimes, especially as white supremacist groups have felt encouraged in recent years by former President Donald Trump and in the face of the deadly January 6th riot at the Capitol.
After this riot, police officers worked to round up members of the Proud Boys. who played a key role in the violent activity that day. Many of those who stormed the Capitol that day said they felt there at the invitation of the President.
During his presidency, Trump often enjoyed the support of these groups, who gathered around him as an icon who was not afraid to speak up about what bothered him. And in a presidential debate in September, Trump turned it down when asked to denounce white supremacist and nationalist groups, including the Proud Boys. Instead he replied, “Stand back and stand by.”
In August 2017, a right-wing rally was held in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white nationalists gathered to protest. Trump’s response to the rally met with heavy criticism after he said there were “very good people on both sides”. Some saw his words as an attempt to equate white supremacists with those who protested against them. A counter-protester died after being hit by a car at the rally.