Las Vegas Shooter Ranted About Police, Government In Online Videos

Jun 10, 2014

YouTube videos have surfaced of 31-year-old Jerad Miller, in which he rants about not trusting police or government and relying on guns to protect himself from forces that want to limit his freedom.

He and his 22-year-old wife Amanda Miller shot and killed two police officers and a third person in Las Vegas on Sunday, before taking their own lives.

The Millers left a “Don’t tread on me” flag and a swastika on the body of one of the officers.

Robert Futrell, who teaches sociology at the University of Las Vegas and co-wrote the book “American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement’s Hidden Spaces of Hate,” discusses the case with Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti.

Some YouTube videos posted by Jerad Miller (may contain strong language):

Guest

  • Robert Futrell, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada. He is co-author of “American Swastika.”
Copyright 2014 WBUR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wbur.org.

Transcript

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

This is HERE AND NOW. Disturbing YouTube videos have surfaced of Jerad Miller who, along with his wife, killed two police officers and a third person on Sunday in Las Vegas. In the videos Miller rants about the police and government calling them oppressors. Here's one posted last March.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

JERAD MILLER: I admit, there's a lot of gun deaths in this country. But not nearly the millions that have died because of governments turning on their own people.

CHAKRABARTI: We'll let's bring in Robert Futrell, chair of the sociology department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He cowrote the book "American Swastika: Inside The White Power Movement's Hidden Spaces Of Hate." Professor, welcome.

ROBERT FUTRELL: Thank you.

CHAKRABARTI: First of all, how would you characterize what happened in Las Vegas over the past couple days? Some people are wondering if it's an act of domestic terrorism.

FUTRELL: Well, I think it's fair to make that claim. I mean, that's a pretty broad label. But in the past five years or so, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI have noted a rise of domestic threats and have started to label things as domestic terrorism, such as the events two days ago.

This is coming from an antigovernment sort of cultural approach to thinking about people's place in the world. And this was certainly reflective of some of the more extreme facets of that belief.

CHAKRABARTI: Let's talk a little bit more about what we're piecing together regarding the ideology that Jerad Miller was displaying, you know, on YouTube, for example, or even on the scene. Like, for example, on the bodies of the police officers, they laid a swastika and the Don't Tread On Me flag.

Now, the swastika's been, traditionally in the United States, been a symbol of the white power movement. But that doesn't necessarily have to be the case here, right?

FUTRELL: Right. It seems like for Miller it's a symbol of fascism. And his perspective, it appears, is that the state is a fascist state in the United States. The government is a fascist government. And the police, for him and others like him, are sort of the front line agents of the state. The swastika penned to one of the bodies was apparently to indicate that they are agents of a fascist state, similar to the Hitler state.

CHAKRABARTI: Well, I'm wondering how representative is Jerad Miller's views of the far right wing in general because his actions were absolutely criminal and extreme? But are the views that he publicized extreme within the world of the far right wing?

FUTRELL: Well, they're extreme to you and me, but they are not extreme in the cultural milieu that he participated in. Of course there's a difference between rhetoric and action. But we need to be very aware that rhetoric sometimes leads to action of the most extreme types.

But it certainly comes from an antigovernment sort of a revolutionary idea of beginning an insurrection to overthrow a fascist state - a fascist state that people think is controlled by a cabal of puppet masters doing the bidding for to create a new world or that excludes most everybody, particularly white males.

CHAKRABARTI: But, Professor Futrell, on the other hand, we don't want to paint with too broad a brush because, I mean, for example, the supporters of the rancher Cliven Bundy, who have basically been in what's more or less an armed standoff with federal officials from the Bureau of Land Management. Jerad Miller went to them, and he and his partner were even, according to members of the Bundy group, too extreme for them.

FUTRELL: That's right. It's hard to know what went on up there. But I think it's fairly safe to say that for Jerad Miller himself being in that place, being in that environment around other people that he saw to be like him had to be in part a catalyst for the actions he took two days ago.

CHAKRABARTI: Well, let's talk about for a moment if we can the online world here and how it plays into this case because people are now, of course, looking at the YouTube videos, for example, that Jerad Miller put up for the world to see a couple years ago. What effect does the free reign that people have online, you know, have on this world of far right wing extremists and conspiracy theories?

FUTRELL: It would be really interesting to know what kinds of networks he was connected to, particularly through the Internet. And I wouldn't be surprised if he was engaged daily in connecting with people or websites with the ideology that he espoused because it's accessible 24/7. It's accessible from anywhere there's an Internet connection. And people that we study in the white power movement that's also shade into much of this sort of far right political ideology, they're on there all the time.

CHAKRABARTI: Well, let me ask you about that, finally, because you said you studied people in the white power movement who sort of occupy some of these same spaces and communities both online and off-line. Nothing about ideology or talking with people with similar views, there's nothing illegal about that, right?

I mean, the concern is when that evolves into the potential or real violent action. So what lessons can you - do you think we can draw from, for example, your studies of the white power movement when those people have spilled into actual extreme action, you know, for a case like Jerad Miller?

FUTRELL: Well, it's very difficult to predict who will take the action. It's not difficult to predict that someone will. This makes it very hard for law enforcement. And as you said, it's not illegal to espouse these ideas. It's illegal to act on them.

So it's a complicated situation because you begin to step on civil liberties should you - or do too much surveillance. And we should not be surprised when we see events like this however hard they are to predict in terms of who will take them. These are centralized groups, networks and the lone wolf act on the ideas that are - that a lot of people say are actionable, but they themselves won't take.

CHAKRABARTI: Well, Robert Futrell is the chair of the sociology department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and co-author of the book "American Swastika: Inside The White Power Movement's Hidden Spaces Of Hate." Professor Futrell, thank you so much.

FUTRELL: Thank you.

CHAKRABARTI: And in other news we're following, there has been a deadly school shooting near Portland, Oregon. Police in Troutdale, Oregon, say a gunman entered Reynolds High School this morning and shot one student dead. The gunman is also now dead. Students were seen exiting the building with hands on their heads. SWAT teams and the FBI are on the scene. You're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.