The man who vandalized a synagogue in Indiana with swastika graffiti last year told federal agents that he was radicalized by far-right media like Breitbart and by meeting with the white supremacist group Identity Evropa, according to BuzzFeed.
The vandal, Nolan Brewer, 21, pleaded guilty last week to “conspiring to violate the civil rights” of the synagogue, Congregation Shaarey Tefilla. He was sentenced to a three year prison term.
In July 2018, Brewer and his then-17-year-old wife, Kiyomi Brewer, drove 50 miles from their home to the synagogue, spray painted a Nazi flag and iron crosses on a Dumpster enclosure, and lit a fire on the ground. Prosecutors said they originally planned to break into the synagogue and destroy it with homemade bombs and napalm they brought along, but they got scared.
Brewer apparently told the FBI that he wanted to intimidate Jews based on beliefs in conspiracy theories that say Jews control the world.
“I guess it’s just... back down or something like that,” Brewer told the FBI, describing the message he wanted to sent to the Jewish community. He also wanted attention in the media, and said he was proud that Vice President Mike Pence condemned the vandalism.
Brewer told FBI officers he wanted to “scare the hell out of [Jews],” and send “a message of like, get out I guess,” according to prosecutors.
Evidence in the case included racist memes shared by Brewer and selfies wearing an iron cross. His phone wallpaper was apparently a swastika.
“It is clear that he has adopted beliefs based on ‘alt-right’ or white nationalist propaganda,” the defense attorneys said.
Details of Brewer’s case were shared by data scientists and researcher Emily Gorcenski on Twitter.
Brewer’s lawyers tried to blame his young wife, who apparently spent a lot of time on Discord talking to white supremacists.
“According to Nolan, she began with rightwing yet mainstream views such as those presented on Fox News,” Brewer’s attorneys wrote. “She then moved on to writing by Ben Shapiro and articles on Breitbart News which bridged the gap to the notorious white supremacist and anti-Semititc propaganda site Stormfront.”
Shapiro didn’t return BuzzFeed’s requests for comment.
Brewer told FBI agents how Kiyomi had long chats with who she thought was a Romanian “identitarian” white nationalist called “Asbestos Peter” on Discord and Telegram, who convinced them to attack a synagogue and told them which supplies to buy.
After the attack Brewer told FBI agents he took photos of the graffiti to send to “Peter.” “Asbestos Peter has been, he was like trying to instigate radicalism,” he said.
Kiyomi Brewer pleaded guilty to arson and got probation but no jail time.
“Ms. Brewer was in fact a minor at the time of the incident,” her lawyer Kevin Karimi told BuzzFeed. “The fact that my client wasn’t charged federally speaks for itself.”
“That said, the gravity of her actions were not lost upon my client. The anti-Semitic crimes committed across our country are sickening,” Karimi added. “This case helped fuel legislation in Indiana to make ‘hate crimes’ further punishable by law.”
Until this year, Indiana was one of five states without a hate crime law, thanks in large part to Mike Pence. A hate crime bill was finally passed by the state legislature in February and signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb.
Brewer apparently met up in person with members of the white supremacist group Identity Evropa, who were involved in the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville that killed activist Heather Heyer. Brewer told the FBI that the group wasn’t political.
“It’s just be proud that you’re European, it’s, it’s an identitarian movement, it’s nothing political,” Brewer said.
He also denied that the group has any ill will towards any group of people, which is pretty rich coming from a guy who vandalized a synagogue with Nazi symbols.
Amazingly, Brewer was apparently so proud of his work that he told a coworker about his vandalism the day after it happened.
“He was giddy,” prosecutors said, “and proud of what he had done.”
Read the rest of the story over at BuzzFeed.