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Highland Park Parade shooter ‘posted videos appearing to preview deadly attack’

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Suspect Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, was taken into custody Monday evening for the deadly shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. The 22-year-old was zeroed in on as the person of interest thanks to a “significant amount of digital evidence” that helped lead investigators to him, Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said when announcing the arrest.

Six people were killed and dozens of others were injured and hospitalized in the shooting that took place a little after 10 a.m. during the Independence Day parade in the suburb of Chicago, according to officials.

The Washington Examiner reports “Firearm evidence in connection to the shooting was located at the scene on the rooftop of a local business, where officials said a ladder with access to the roof was left unsecured. The gun believed to have been used by the suspect is a ‘high-powered rifle,’ police said.”

Shortly after Crimo was identified as a person of interest, he was taken into custody which law enforcement said followed a brief vehicle chase several miles away from the site of the morning shooting. Before the arrest, FBI agents were spotted at a home in Highwood, Illinois, which neighbors said is where Crimo lives with his family, according to local reports.

The Washington Examiner viewed videos pulled from Crimo’s BlogSpot video archive page, which remained active even after a YouTube page associated with Crimo was shut down. Crimo performed as a rapper named Awake the Rapper. The Examiner goes into extensive detail on the videos Crimo posted, which appear to preview the deadly attack:

In a short video titled “Where is Everyone?,” an Emergency Alert System can be heard repeatedly playing, as a video apparently being shot from the back of a vehicle shows him driving down an empty main street lined with American flags. The street appears to be the exact street on the parade route where the mass shooting occurred on Monday.

In the right corner of the video, a Salon Lofts store can be seen as the video moves away down the street. The video then crosses train tracks, and then a First Bank office is on the left side of the video as the video continues moving. A Google Map street view shows that this is Central Avenue in Highland Park and was part of the parade route, with the video seeming to end very close to where Monday’s shooting on Central Avenue took place.

The Google Drive for the BlogSpot post indicated the video was uploaded on Aug. 8, 2021, suggesting he may have considered attacking the July Fourth parade route for nearly a year at least. The city’s Fourth of July parade appears to have been canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, but the parade route was the same in years prior.

Another video dubbed “Project Arcturus” — Arcturus is the name of a red giant star named for a Greek myth — shows a drawing of someone wearing a helmet and straps across their back and chest gunning people down with a rifle. In the drawing, one person is on their knees with their hands up, while multiple dead bodies are on the ground. Crimo shows himself wearing a similar helmet and outfit in the video. In the same video, Crimo repeatedly shows what appears to be himself in his bedroom with an “Oswald Slain in Jail Shift” newspaper hanging on the wall above him. Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Some of the video was filmed in a classroom, giving the impression he may have considered a school shooting before attacking the parade instead. The video also appears to depict a drawing of Crimo himself bleeding in the chest.

Another video was titled “Are You Awake?” (also called “Sleepwalker 1” when it is downloaded), and although it was a different video, it also repeatedly showed the same drawing of people being shot and the same depiction of Crimo bleeding and displayed the same Oswald newspaper above Crimo.

“Like a sleepwalker, I am breaking through no matter what,” Crimo said in a voiceover in the video, adding, “I know what I have to do. I know what’s in it. Not only for me but for everyone else. Where am I going? I don’t know. I don’t care. There is no past or future, just the now. It is more abstract than I can ever imagine. I can feel the atmosphere pulling me in. It’s unstoppable. Like a wave pulling me under.”

Crimo also said: “I need to leave now. I need to just do it. It is my destiny. Everything has led up to this. Nothing can stop me, not even myself. Is there such a thing as free will or has this been planned out like a cosmic recipe? It is what I have been waiting for in the back of my head, waiting to be awakened. It’s what I was sent here to do. Like a sleepwalker, walking with my head held high. Like a sleepwalker, walking blindly into the night.”

In a video titled “God’s Not Dead,” he spray paints “God’s Not Dead” as the Star Wars main theme plays. And in a video titled “Smiley Face Solider,” he shows a sped up version of himself spray-painting a soldier holding a rifle with a smiley face for a head as the “Imperial March” from Star Wars plays.

Another video titled “Freedom” shows him seeing to mock the idea of freedom as he repeats “freedom” and also appears to pronounce it as “free-dumb.”

 

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Minnesota farmer’s lawsuit prompts removal of race and sex-based grant program

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Five months after Minnesota farmer Lance Nistler filed a federal lawsuit with the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), the state has removed race- and sex-based preferences from its Down Payment Assistance Grant Program. This significant policy change followed Nistler’s legal challenge, which highlighted the discriminatory nature of the program’s selection process.

Pacific Legal Foundation writes involvement in Nistler’s case drew attention and criticism from Minnesota progressives. Writing in the Minnesota Reformer, Sigrid Jewett accused PLF of using Nistler “as a pawn in a larger culture war game.” She questioned why a California-based legal firm with numerous Supreme Court victories would be interested in representing a small Minnesota farmer pro bono.

PLF opposes all race- and sex-based preferences in the law, and that’s the real reason the firm chose to represent Nistler. The foundation stands against discrimination in various domains, including government board selections, school admissions, government contracts, and grant distributions, such as in Nistler’s case.

Here are the facts: Minnesota’s Down Payment Assistance Grant Program offers up to $15,000 toward the purchase of farmland. Recipients are chosen through a lottery system. However, before the policy change, even if a recipient was among the first picked through the lottery—as Nistler was, being selected ninth—they could be bumped to the back of the line if they were not a racial minority, female, LGBTQIA+, or otherwise designated as an “emerging” farmer by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Despite being chosen ninth in the lottery, which awarded grants to 68 applicants, Nistler did not receive a grant. He was moved from ninth to 102nd on the waitlist because he is a white male.

Nistler grew up on his family farm, milking cows. “They would lose money every year,” he says of the family operation. After he left for school, his family sold the cows and switched to farming soybeans, oats, and wheat. Lance’s father and uncle now run the farm, but they’re getting older. Lance, who has a degree in electronic engineering and worked in HVAC, is interested in buying a 40-acre chunk of the family farm, becoming the fourth-generation farmer in his family.

The land isn’t just going to be given to Lance. This is a working farm, and the Nistlers aren’t a wealthy family that can transfer land from one generation to the next without consideration. “My dad and uncle, they don’t have 401(k)s or anything,” Lance says. “I mean, the land and the equipment, that’s their retirement. This stuff isn’t given away. I’m not just going to get it handed down to me and inherited. It has to be purchased, and it is not cheap.”

Despite being from a farming family, Lance considers himself a new farmer—he has never owned farmland before, and he has an electronics background. Buying these 40 acres would be a huge step for Lance, planting him firmly in the farming world, which is what Minnesota’s grant program aimed to do. The idea that he would have qualified as an emerging farmer if only his skin were a different color struck Lance as wrong.

“The country we live in, the idea is it’s equal opportunity for everyone,” he says. “And if that’s what it is, then well, why shouldn’t I have the same chances?”

When Lance filed his lawsuit in January, the complaint argued that the discriminatory process violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. The complaint stated:

“Nistler brings this lawsuit to vindicate his constitutional right to equal protection of the law. He brings it to give all Minnesotans a fair chance at a difference-making grant program. He brings it in the hope that he will be able to own that small farm in the near future. He brings it because he is not giving up on his dream.”

In May, after Lance called attention to the unconstitutional policy, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed legislation removing the race and sex prioritization from the program. Now, Minnesota will treat farmers equally—as the Constitution promises.

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