The manifesto appeared on a website, lastrhodesian.com, which also featured dozens of images of the suspect, Dylan Roof, 21, posing with weapons and visiting Southern historic sites. Roof was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of killing nine worshipers, including a Democratic state senator who served as a pastor, at the historic black Emanuel AME church in Charleston. Roof has since been held without bond on murder charges.
In the manifesto, the writer spewed vitriol at black people, Jews, and other minority groups, writing that white people belong to a “superior” race.
The author called blacks “the biggest problem for Americans” and explained "the event that truly awakened me" as a racist was the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in Florida who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman. The manifesto said it was "obvious" that Zimmerman, who was eventually acquitted of murder, "was in the right."
In the wake of the Martin killing, the author wrote about coming across the website of a once-prominent white nationalist group called the Council of Conservative Citizens.
"There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief," the manifesto's author wrote. "At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?"
In a section labeled “An Explanation,” the writer said, “I have no choice….We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
Though the manifesto was unsigned and it’s unclear who owns the site, the New York Times reported that the domain name was registered in February under the name Dylann Roof. The site also contained a link to a ZIP file containing dozens of images of Roof. In the photos, he appeared at historic locations, including Confederate soldiers’ graves, the Museum and Library of Confederate History, and a slave plantation, according to the Times. Other photos showed him posing with handguns and Confederate flags. In one, he sets fire to the American flag.
"I hate the sight of the American flag," the manifesto said. "Modern American patriotism is an absolute joke. People pretending like they have something to be proud while White people are being murdered daily in the streets."
According to a Gawker report, the website was uncovered by Twitter users @HenryKrinkle and @EMQuangel, who searched for Roof’s name in a Reverse Whois lookup on domaintools.com.
Mark Pitcavage, who tracks extremists as the director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, talked to TPM on Saturday about some key details in the manifesto.
For one, Pitcavage said, it appeared that the author had little to no interaction with organized hate groups, other than through the internet. The manifesto mentioned "research," Wikipedia and white nationalist websites, but there were no references to real-life interactions with other extremists.
"It's clear from this that he's self-radicalized," Pitcavage said. "He only talks about educating himself... This seems like a loner, like an introverted loner."
He also noted that the website and manifesto try to paint the author as brave. Even the name of the website, Last Rhodesian, appears to be a reference to the former white-controlled nation of Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe. In photographs, Roof frequently wore a jacket with the flag of Rhodesia on the front of it. The flag has become a symbol for white supremacists.
"He clearly has this vision of himself as this lone, white warrior," Pitcavage told TPM. "You can see it in the name of the website."
Yet if the person who wrote the manifesto was the same one who killed nine unarmed people at a church Bible study, Pitcavage said it shows something entirely different.
"What he chooses is one of the softest targets imaginable, a church," Pitcavage said. "This is someone, a terrorist, who clearly was a coward."
This post has been updated.