Choices at Safety

Tommy Lawlor:

We’d all love the Eagles to go find Dawk, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, or someone like that, but these are rare talents. You simply can’t hold the Eagles (or any team) to that standard. Can the Eagles upgrade on the current set of Safeties? That’s certainly possible, but I think the player would have to be special.

It’s obviously a false dichotomy to say that the Eagles only choices are essentially to stick with what they have or bring in a “special player.” That kind of attitude also suggests that the Eagles should have stayed with Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown as starting wide receivers, and that drafting someone like Earl Thomas wasn’t possible.

I still hold out hope for Nate Allen to rebound in 2012 and perhaps Jaiquawn Jarrett will show his talent, but Kurt Coleman is at best a good backup safety and none of the three have consistently demonstrated above-average play. What’s wrong with signing a non-Jarrad Page veteran and making the youngsters actually earn one or both starting jobs next year?


Devin McCourty - Rocky Mountain Horse

Jimmy Garoppolo - Pinto Horse foal

Ryan Allen - Donkey foal

Inspired by this and this 

(click the picture for the breed)

BREAKING: Four Suspects Have Been Arrested In Black Lives Matter Shooting In Minneapolis

Left to Right: Joe Backman, Lance Scarsella, Nate Gustavvson

Allen “Lance” Scarsella, 23, is currently being held without bail at Hennepin County jail on an assault charge, KSTP’s Steve Tellier confirmed. Three other suspects, Nathan Gustavsson, 21, Daniel Macey, 26, and Joseph Backman, 27, are also in custody, the Star-Tribune reports. Three suspects are white, and one is Asian.

Nearly 1,000 people marched to City Hall on Tuesday, less than a day after five protesters were shot near a Black Lives Matter demonstration, an apparently racially motivated attack that pushed Minneapolis into the national spotlight.

Minneapolis police said Tuesday that they have arrested three men in connection with the shooting. Allen Lawrence “Lance” Scarsella III, 23, was arrested in Bloomington. Sources said Nathan Gustavsson, 21, of Hermantown, and Daniel Macey, 26, of Pine City, were taken into custody after they turned themselves in. All three suspects are white. Earlier Tuesday, police arrested a 32-year-old Hispanic man in south Minneapolis, but he was later released because, police said, he was not at the scene of the shooting.

Authorities are weighing whether to treat Monday’s shooting as a hate crime, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

In a video message posted on Facebook, Mayor Betsy Hodges said she “abhors” Monday night’s violence and that “those attacks have no place in our city.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau on Twitter called the officers “true professionals” and noted that “MPD worked nonstop through the night to bring justice in last night’s shooting.” She did not comment further on the shooting Tuesday.

The gunfire erupted around 10:45 p.m. Monday on Morgan Avenue N. about a block north of the precinct station where protesters have staged demonstrations and camped out since Nov. 15, when police fatally shot Jamar Clark, an unarmed 24-year-old black man.

Miski Noor, a media contact for Black Lives Matter, said “a group of white supremacists showed up at the protest, as they have done most nights.”

When about a dozen protesters attempted to herd the group away from the area, Noor said, they “opened fire on about six protesters,” hitting five of them. The victims — all black men ages 19 through 43 — were taken to local hospitals. Their injuries were not life threatening.

Rallies continue

In Minneapolis, protesters gathered Tuesday afternoon outside the Fourth Precinct to reiterate demands for justice in Clark’s death and commit to staying at their encampment.

One of the Monday shooting victims returned to the scene, leaning heavily on a cane. Wesley Martin said he was shot after he and a group of others chased the suspected gunmen toward an alley off Morgan Avenue.

“I’ve been out here every night since it started, and you know when people look suspicious,” Martin said.

The bullet ripped through his right knee, Martin said. He said his 19-year-old friend Teven King was also shot, in the stomach.

As Martin spoke, his cousin Leroy Williams nodded in agreement. Williams said one of Clark’s nephews, Cameron Clark, 24, was among the shooting victims.

By 3 p.m., a crowd of about 1,000 marchers with banners headed to City Hall, pausing at Clark’s makeshift memorial on Plymouth Avenue along the way.

The shooting appeared to draw new supporters to the cause.

Felicia Washington Sy, a psychotherapist, said she left work early Tuesday afternoon, telling her boss, “I need to be there.”

It was the first time Sy had seen the encampment with her own eyes.

“[I came out] because of the overwhelming feeling of injustice, sadness and my responsibility to take part and say ‘that’s not OK,’ ” she said.

Two Minneapolis squad cars guided the group over interstate overpasses and through downtown streets.

When protesters reached City Hall, they continued to N. 4th St., blocking the road in front of the federal courthouse.

A few protesters attempted to enter the courthouse, but doors were locked.

City officials did not come out to meet the crowd, and protesters were told that City Hall was on lockdown.

After rallying in the street for about an hour, the group turned to walk back to the Fourth Precinct station via Washington Avenue.

Meanwhile, protesters in Chicago also took to the streets after a white police officer was indicted on murder charges in the 2014 shooting death of a 17-year-old black teen. A graphic video released Tuesday shows the officer shooting the teen repeatedly.

Debate over encampment

The FBI, one of the outside agencies investigating Clark’s death, is “aware of the incident and is coordinating with the Minneapolis Police Department to assess the facts and determine if further federal action” is warranted, spokesman Kyle Loven said.

Ben Petok, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger’s office, said the attorney’s office and the Department of Justice civil rights division are also taking a look.

Protesters have raised questions about Minneapolis police officers’ knowledge of and response to the Monday shooting. Asked about those questions Tuesday, Scott Seroka, a police department spokesman, said, “At this point in the investigation, we know that the people that have been arrested have no connection to the MPD.”

Council President Barb Johnson said the shooting Monday evening was a “continuation of a stressful time for the neighbors that live in the area surrounding the Fourth Precinct,” adding that “they deserve some peace and some rest.”

According to City Pages, two men wearing camouflage with masks over their faces came to the protests last Friday night. Protesters said they felt threatened by the armed men.

“I don’t know if this is what [protesters] were planning, just standing here,” one of the white supremacists said, according to City Pages. “It’s almost as if they expect one of us to do something. They expect one of us to be in the wreckage of all this. It’s boiling. It’s going to be happening soon.”

A video posted by the two men (which can be watched here) was found online by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.

Police said last week they were aware of the threat to protesters.

“The Minneapolis Police Department has received information that a group may attempt to cause a disturbance this evening in front of the Police Department’s 4th Precinct,” police spokesman Scott Seroka said in a statement. “We are asking gathered demonstrators to be vigilant and report any actions that may seem out of the ordinary. If anyone notices something suspicious, please contact a nearby officer or call 9-1-1. A physical description, clothing description, and/or vehicle description is helpful. Also, please report any ‘out of the ordinary’ actions you have observed.”

UPDATE: More info on the four suspects.

Lance Scarsella

Lance Scarsella was taken into custody Tuesday in Bloomington, Minnesota, police said.

He was booked into the Hennepin County Jail on suspicion of assault at 6 p.m., and held without bail.

According to his Facebook page, Scarsella is originally from Lakeville, Minnesota, and now lives in Saint Paul. He was a student at the University of St. Thomas until last year.

Scarsella was a high school wrestler at Lakeville North High School. He became an Eagle Scout in 2009.

The cover photo on Scarsella’s Facebook page is the one-starred “Bonnie Blue” flag often associated with the Confederacy.

Nathan Gustavsson

Gustavsson, of Hermantown, Minnesota, and Macey, of Pine City, turned themselves in to police Tuesday afternoon and were interviewed by investigators. They were later booked on suspicion of assault and held without bail at the Hennepnin County Jail, according to online records.

A fourth person, a 32-year-old Hispanic man who goes by the name “Saiga Marine” online, was brought in for questioning Tuesday, but released after police determined he was not at the protests Monday night.

Gustavsson, Macey and Scarsella are all being held without bail.

Gustavsson is enrolled in the Gunsmithing and Firearms Technology program at Pine Technical and Community College. 

Scarsella, Gustavsson and Backman are white, while Macey is Asian, police said; the protesters who were shot were black. None of the five victims suffered life-threatening injuries.

All four suspects are being held in the Hennepin County Jail without bail on suspicion of assault, according to online jail records. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Wednesday that charges are not expected before Monday.

Gustavsson is a 2012 graduate of Hermantown High School, and participated on the trapshooting team in his time at the school. A check of court records showed two past citations, for underage drinking and speeding in 2013. WDIO-TV reported that he’s a student at Pine Technical and Community College in Pine City.

Gustavsson’s Facebook page, which became inaccessible Wednesday afternoon, included a profile picture of him wearing a camouflage jacket and holding a rifle. Attempts to reach relatives on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Joe Backman

The suspects have little, if any, criminal records in Minnesota.

Scarsella and Gustavsson have both been ticketed for underage drinking, and Gustavsson and Backman have traffic violations on their records.

A check of Macey’s name in Minnesota court records produces no results.

According to a search warrant to enter Scarsella’s Bloomington residence, filed in Hennepin County and reported by KMSP-TV, a Mankato, Minn., police officer identified as “Officer Levin,” who was a high school classmate of Scarsella’s, told investigators that Scarsella called him and admitted shooting five people.

The warrant said Scarsella said he and some friends had gone to the protest to live-stream it on the Internet. Police were said to have taken camouflage jackets and pants, a tactical vest, ammunition, several gun cases and six pellet guns from Scarsella’s residence.

Minneapolis police haven’t released a possible motive for the shooting of the protesters, but the incident came after several racially disparaging comments about the protests were posted on social media. One video showed a white man brandishing a gun while claiming to be on his way to the protests.

Police had issued a warning Friday night, asking demonstrators to be vigilant and report suspicious behavior to authorities. Organizers of the Black Lives Matter protest said they had previously kicked out counterprotesters they believed to be white supremacists.

Witnesses to the shooting and others who have been following the protest say that the shots came from a small group of white supremacists who had been hanging around the protest for days. .

We still don’t know who pulled the trigger, but it is growing increasingly clear that most if not all of the small squad of racists at the protest were 4channers associated with the /pol/ and /k/ boards, the first a politics board overrun with racists and conspiracy theories and the second a hangout for weapons enthusiasts.

But a lot has happened since my last post, so here’s a roundup of some of the more significant developments.

The police are holding four men — all white, and all in their twenties — allegedly involved in the shooting.

According to local newspaper,  police have arrested 23-year-old Lawrence “Lance” Scarsella III, who is one of the two masked men shown driving to the protests in this video last week. (Here’s what appears to be a video of the arrest.)

Ironically, Black Powder Ranger, as Scarsella is apparently known online, was not the one brandishing the gun. BLM activists say that SaigaMarine, the gun-toting racist driving the car and spouting racist epithets, was the somewhat older Hispanic man arrested and released yesterday because he evidently had an alibi for the night of the shooting.

Two other men — identified as Daniel Thomas Macey and Nathan Gustavsson — turned themselves in to police yesterday. Newsweek reports that the police are also questioning a fourth man, Joseph Backman.

While we still don’t know the details of the shooting, someone — apparently one of the 4chan gang — sent a video to a local radio station that appears to show what happened in the minutes immediately before the shooting, in which a group of BLM protesters confronted the 4channers filming their protest. Unfortunately, the video has no sound

Videos of the racist gang at the protest — there are several making the rounds on YouTube — make it abundantly clear that they are either 4channers or others intimately familiar with 4chan lingo.One of the gang even sports a /k/ patch on his jacket.

Much of their conversation consists of little more than repitition of 4chan memes and coded language (e.g. “cultural enrichment”) that they apparently thought would conceal their racism from the Black Lives Matter crowd. No such luck for them: BLM activists figured out relatively quickly that the small group of masked men talking amongst themselves as they not-so-secretly filmed the crowd were up to no good.

Here’s one of the videos of them at the demonstration:

While the racist gang at the protests is clearly connected to 4chan, it’s not clear if any of its members are connected to broader hate movements or subcultures, from GamerGate to the militia movement.

But they are certainly steeped in racism and in America’s gun culture. Digging through the limited information on the internet about the 4chan contingent at the protests, Raw Story notes that they seem to share “a fascination with guns, video games, the Confederacy and right-wing militia groups.”

The cover photo on Scarcella’s Facebook page, for example, shows what’s known as the Bonnie Blue Confederate flag. One of his Facebook likes is OAF Nation, a veterans’ group so right-wing that it has attacked other veterans’ groups for distributing what it called ” f*ggoty ass yard signs” asking those lighting fireworks to not do so near the homes of veterans with PTSD.

Gustavsson, one of the men who turned himself in, brandishes a rifle in his Facebook profile picture as well.

SaigaMarine — apparently the man arrested and released — also posed for his Facebook profile “armed and donning full military gear, the StarTribune reports. “He describes his occupation simply as ‘Saving the Constitution.‘”