The teenager who killed 17 people Wednesday in one of the worst school shootings in modern history reportedly trained with White supremacists, which would make him a racist. But the deadly actions which Nikolas Cruz is accused of carrying out also fit the criteria under Florida law to be labeled as terrorism.
So why isn’t he being described as either in narratives provided by law enforcement?
In the absence of the motive behind the 19-year-old’s shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the leader of White nationalist group the Republic of Florida said Cruz was “part of our organization,” according to the Daily Beast. “He probably used that training to do what he did yesterday,” Jordan Jereb said. “Nobody I know told him to do that, he just freaked out.”
Cruz was also accused by a student of being a racist.
“He was psycho, for sure,” one student told Florida media outlet Local 10 News. “He was racist and he was just crazy.”
While prosecutors will determine Cruz’s mental state and views on race, what is completely indisputable is that he committed an act of terror, a word that President Donald Trump conveniently failed to include in his address to the nation Thursday morning.
According to Florida statute, the terms “terror,” “terrorism” and “terrorist” shall be defined as “A violent act or an act dangerous to human life which is a violation of the criminal laws of this state or of the United States” and one that is intended to “Intimidate, injure, or coerce a civilian population.”
Isn’t that exactly what Cruz did?
Trump was also careful to not call the Las Vegas gunman a terrorist, either, even though Nevada law defined Stephen Paddock’s actions as being terrorism. Coincidentally, both Cruz and Paddock are not Black.
Not much demographic information about the victims was immediately released, so the racial nature of Cruz’s attack on high school students was still unclear on Thursday afternoon. But ignoring the allegations of racism would be doing even more of an injustice than the American politicians who refuse to enact serious gun legislation that could have prevented Cruz (and the other gunmen at the center of the 17 other school shootings this year) from obtaining their high-powered weapons of war.