Pittsburgh Police Shooting Suspect Member of StormFront White Supremacist Neo-Nazi Web Site
Pittsburgh police shooting suspect was member of StormFront White Supremacist Neo-Nazi Web Site
— Richard Andrew Poplawski “joined Florida-based Stormfront”…. and sought to get tattoos of “life runes”
— “Life runes are a common symbol among white supremacists, notably followers of The National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group linked to an array of violent organizations”
April, 2009 : Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Poplawski’s web postings warned of ‘enemies’
– “Richard Poplawski posted dozens of racist and anti-Semitic messages on a far-right Web site over a span of 15 months, decrying race-mixing, sharing his thoughts on the best weapons and predicting chaos as the economy collapsed at the hands of ‘Zionist occupation,’ investigators said”
— Report of November 28, 2008 Poplawki post on StormFront reads: “I’ve been a longtime lurker on Stormfront, and I see myself probably ramping up the activism in the near future”
— “Stormfront, a white supremacist Web site run by a former Ku Klux Klan leader in Florida”
Remaining report from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – April 7, 2009
Poplawski’s Web postings warned of ‘enemies’
By Dennis B. Roddy / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Richard Poplawski posted dozens of racist and anti-Semitic messages on a far-right Web site over a span of 15 months, decrying race-mixing, sharing his thoughts on the best weapons and predicting chaos as the economy collapsed at the hands of “Zionist occupation,” investigators said.
“It seems to me that our enemies would like nothing more than to see us retreat peaceably into the hills so that they could continue raping the remainder of the land without having to worry about any ‘kooks’ putting up a fight,” reads one post dated Nov. 1, 2008. “I’ll subscribe to the camp that believes we are running out of time. A revolutionary is always regarded as a nutcase at first, their ideas dismissed as fantasy.”
An account kept on Stormfront, a gathering place for racial extremists and others from the far right, shows Mr. Poplawski’s increasing belief in a coming economic and political collapse in the days leading up to the time of the deadly standoff in which he is charged with killing three Pittsburgh police officers.
“I’ve been a longtime lurker on Stormfront, and I see myself probably ramping up the activism in the near future,” reads a Nov. 28 post on the account identified as his.
Details of Mr. Poplawski’s extreme racial and political views came to light yesterday when a leading researcher at the Anti-Defamation League delved into his postings at Stormfront, a white supremacist Web site run by a former Ku Klux Klan leader in Florida.
Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the ADL, said Mr. Poplawski was logged on to Stormfront four hours before Saturday’s deadly shootings. The ADL yesterday revealed the Poplawski Stormfront account, which was in addition to another one in which he showed photographs of his American eagle tattoo — a piece of body art that also connected him to the second account in which he expounded on race. Mr. Pitcavage said he explored the Poplawski account after learning of his extremist beliefs in a Sunday article in the Post-Gazette.
Initially, he posted under the name “Rich P,” which, sometime after March 10, he changed to the more ominous sounding “Braced for Fate.”
Between Jan. 16, 2007, and Thursday, Mr. Poplawski expounded on race, interracial mixing and a presumed power of Jews in America.
His final post expressed concerns about the changes in the logo of the Keystone State Skinheads, a neo-Nazi group that has been linked to a variety of crimes.
He also expressed concerns that white nationalist groups had missed an opportunity to call attention to protests in Oakland, Calif., on behalf of young black men accused in the shooting of several police officers there.
Mr. Pitcavage said he unmasked Mr. Poplawski’s Stormfront identity by matching details and common links and names with another Stormfront account in which Mr. Poplawski published photographs of his tattoo — a large eagle spread across his chest, its head poking upward just below the neck. He makes reference to that same tattoo in the second online account. Additionally, the “Braced for Fate” site discusses events that match those in Mr. Poplawski’s life, including mention of his fondness for Wellington, Fla., where he lived during the middle part of this decade.
Stormfront, founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader Don Black, is based in West Palm Beach, Fla., an area in which Mr. Poplawski lived in 2006. There is no indication that the two men ever met.
On March 13, the Stormfront account linked to Mr. Poplawski carried a lengthy post predicting economic collapse, engineered by a Jewish conspiracy.
“The federal government, mainstream media, and banking system in these United States are strongly under the influence of — if not completely controlled by — Zionist interest,” the post declares. “An economic collapse of the financial system is inevitable, bringing with it some degree of civil unrest if not outright balkanization of the continental U.S., civil/revolutionary/racial war. … This collapse is likely engineered by the elite Jewish powers that be in order to make for a power and asset grab.”
The 923-word post outlines the apocalyptic ideas that Mr. Poplawski’s friends earlier attributed to him.
“One can read the list of significant persons in government and in major corporations and see who is pulling the strings. One can observe the policies and final products and should walk away with little doubt there is Zionist occupation and — after some further research and critical thinking — will discover their insidious intentions,” the post adds.
Earlier this year, Mr. Poplawski’s postings included vivid descriptions of after-game revelries when the Steelers won the Super Bowl. He referred to orderly behavior in his neighborhood by “happy whites.” In another, he alluded to professional football as “negroball.”
Still another post expounded about his dislike of African-American, Latina and Asian women.
“Don’t mix your blood with dirt, son,” he posted.
At one point, advising another poster on ideal weapons, he praised his “AK” — an AK-47, the kind of weapon police say he used to kill three of their ranks Saturday.
Asked Dec. 8 what one weapon he would want if he could keep just one, he wrote, “I guess I’d have to say my AK. Which is nice because it doesn’t have to fall from the sky — it’s in a case within arms reach.”
Mr. Poplawski also appears to agree with another poster who criticized Alex Jones, host of a conspiracy theorist radio program and author of an Internet site to which Mr. Poplawski’s friends said he sometimes turned for news.
The other poster complained that Mr. Jones’ site deleted posts alleging Jewish control of the United States.
“My mind hasn’t been made up on AJ 100 percent,” he wrote.
Mr. Jones, in a telephone interview with the Post-Gazette, denied extremist views and described himself as “more of a libertarian” than member of the right wing.
He also denounced the violence that took place in Stanton Heights and suggested it reflected growing worries about gun confiscation.
“When the police and the military attempt to come for the guns, which they’re going to do, it’s not going to go well.”
Mr. Jones complained that his views were being conflated with extremists that recruit people with legitimate concerns reflected on his own site and program.
If blame is to be laid for the Stanton Heights shootings, Mr. Jones said, it should be placed on the Marine Corps, which Mr. Poplawski’s friends and mother said he had joined only to be thrown out.
“If anybody should be blamed for this it’s the Marines — they’re the ones who trained him to kill,” Mr. Jones said.
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Suspect in officers’ shooting was into conspiracy theories
By Dennis B. Roddy / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Richard Andrew Poplawski was a young man convinced the nation was secretly controlled by a cabal that would eradicate freedom of speech, take away his guns and use the military to enslave the citizenry.
His online profile suggests someone at once lonely and seething. He wrote of burning the backs of both of his hands, the first time with a cigarette, the second time for symmetry. He subscribed to conspiracy theories and, by January 2007, was posting photographs of his tattoos on white supremacist Web site Stormfront. Among his ambitions: “to accumulate enough ‘I punched that [expletive] so hard’ stories to match my old man.”
“Crazy to me is going through the motions,” he wrote on his MySpace profile three years ago. “Crazy to me is letting each day slip past you. Crazy is being insignificant. Crazy is being obscure, pointless.”
No longer obscure, the 22-year-old is charged in the worst police shooting in the modern history of Pittsburgh. No one is calling his actions anything but pointless.
“He was really into politics and really into the First and Second amendment. One thing he feared was he feared the gun ban because he thought that was going to take away peoples’ right to defend themselves. He never spoke of going out to murder or to kill,” said Edward Perkovic, who described himself as Mr. Poplawski’s lifelong best friend.
Mr. Poplawski’s view of guns and personal freedom took a turn toward the fringes of American politics. With Mr. Perkovic, he appeared to share a belief that the government was controlled from unseen forces, that troops were being shipped home from the Mideast to police the citizenry here, and that Jews secretly ran the country.
“We recently discovered that 30 states had declared sovereignty,” said Mr. Perkovic, who lives in Lawrenceville. “One of his concerns was why were these major events in America not being reported to the public.”
Believing most media were covering up important events, Mr. Poplawski turned to a far-right conspiracy Web site run by Alex Jones, a self-described documentarian with roots going back to the extremist militia movement of the early 1990s.
Around the same time, he joined Florida-based Stormfront, which has long been a clearinghouse Web site for far-right groups. He posted photographs of his tattoo, an eagle spread across his chest.
“I was considering gettin’ life runes on the outside of my calfs,” he wrote. Life runes are a common symbol among white supremacists, notably followers of The National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group linked to an array of violent organizations.
“For some time now there has been a pretty good connection between being sucked into this conspiracy world and propagating violence,” said Heidi Beirich, director of research at the Southern Poverty Law Center and an expert on political extremists. She called Mr. Poplawski’s act, “a classic example of what happens when you start buying all this conspiracy stuff.”
Mr. Perkovic said Mr. Poplawski’s parents had split when he was young.
“His dad’s totally out of the picture,” said Mr. Perkovic.
According to his MySpace profile online, Mr. Poplawski lived in Stanton Heights, was an avid Penguins fan, considered Mario Lemieux his hero, and held his grandmother, Catherine Poplawski, whom he called “Cukie,” in warm esteem.
Mr. Perkovic said his friend essentially dropped out of North Catholic High School. Officials there would only say he was asked to leave.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks — a day before Mr. Poplawski’s birthday — he decided to join the military, stopped going to classes and pursued a general educational development certificate.
“In boot camp he had missed his girlfriend so he had to make a decision … he got himself dishonorably discharged so he could come back,” Mr. Perkovic said.
According to Mr. Perkovic, Mr. Poplawski tossed a lunch tray at a drill instructor.
The relationship with his girlfriend, Melissa Gladish, went sour after Mr. Poplawski returned to Pittsburgh.
Court records show that on Sept. 14, 2005, Mr. Poplawski attacked Miss Gladish outside 1016 Fairfield St., the same address at which he would later be accused of killing the three police officers.
Miss Gladish said she had gone to Mr. Poplawski’s house “and he began to argue with me and call me names. When I argued back he grabbed me by my hair and said, ‘Do you think I’m going to let you talk to me like that? I don’t let anyone talk to me like that.”‘
He threatened to kill her, the records show. In a form asking Miss Gladish to list all weapons Mr. Poplawski had used, she listed “gun that the defendant says is buried in the park near his house.”
Less than a month later, police sought Mr. Poplawski for violating a protection-from-abuse order after he went to Miss Gladish’s workplace, a King’s Restaurant, and asked her to marry him. He then moved to the West Palm Beach, Fla., area. Mr. Perkovic said he worked there as a glazier for two years.
Two years later, back in Pittsburgh, Mr. Poplawski wrote on MySpace of the episode: “She’s lucky I didn’t kill that broad myself. Hahaha.”
Poplawski’s Web postings warned of ‘enemies’