Commemoration of Tulsa Race Massacre Attractive Target DVE’s

Fortify Security Team
May 26, 2021

While we there isn’t a specific or credible intelligence indicating that violent extremists are planning to target events taking place between May 28th and June 1st, the current Homeland threat environment remains heightened and racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist-white supremacists (RMVE-WS) have committed violence at other mass gatherings and crowded public spaces in recent years with little or no warning. RMVE-WS historically have used simple tactics, such as vehicle ramming, small arms, edged weapons, and rudimentary explosive devices to target individuals perceived as having ideologically opposing
views, racial minorities, or law enforcement at mass gatherings or crowded public spaces. Other domestic violent extremists (DVEs) also could perceive the events as attractive targets, particularly those seeking to target law enforcement or who subscribe to mixed ideologies.

The Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission has organized a series of public events to commemorate the centennial of the massacre of an African American neighborhood beginning in late May, which are expected to attract celebrities and prominent public figures. Approximately 15,000 individuals are expected to attend these mostly outdoor events over a three-day period, according to a local law enforcement estimate.

Nearly half of RMVE-WS violent incidents perpetrated during the last 10 years occurred in crowded public spaces or mass gatherings using mostly simple tactics, according to an I&A review of past RMVE-WS incidents. For example, in January 2011, law enforcement thwarted an RMVE-WS’s attempt to to injure people with an improvised explosive device (IED) because of their race, color, or national origin at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March in Spokane, Washington. The perpetrator was sentenced to 32 years in prison, according to an FBI press release and press reporting.

Other DVEs have targeted mass gatherings or crowded public events, including those with mixed motivations. In July 2019, an alleged lone offender DVE with mixed motivations shot and killed three people and injured 13 others, before killing himself, at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California that attracted over 100,000 visitors in a multi-day event, according to press reporting. In July 2016, a DVE ambushed law enforcement officers, killing five and injuring twelve during a planned Dallas, Texas large protest of recent officer-involved shootings of African American men, according to press reporting.

Overview of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Between May 31st and June 1, 1921, as many as 300 people died and more than 1,256 homes burned when a crowd of 10,000 white people—including government officials— descended on Tulsa’s upper middle class African American Greenwood neighborhood, nearly destroying the area, according to a report by the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 and an academic study. The massacre occurred in response to a news article claiming that an African American man attempted to rape a white woman the previous day—charges for which he was later exonerated, according to the report. Around noon on June  1, 1921, martial law was declared and National Guard units began to restore order, according to the report. No one faced charges for the attack on Greenwood, and victims of the attack received no public assistance to restore Greenwood, according to the report.

Threat Indicators

Suspicious activity reporting may help mitigate or prevent violence targeting the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commemoration. The following list of indicators may be innocuous or constitutionally protected activities. Instances without a reasonable alternative explanation should be evaluated while considering a totality of the circumstances, additional indicators, or observed behaviors reasonably indicative of terrorism before being reported as suspicious activity.

  • Specific, directed threats of violence towards prominent figures invited to the events;
  • Online calls for violence by DVEs seeking out and confronting event attendees;
  • Widespread calls for DVEs to brandish, carry, or use lethal weapons to disrupt nationally televised public events; and;
  • Online outreach and associated organizational efforts by DVEs to travel to the event locations for the purpose of engaging in violence.

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