A US mass shooter on death row has built a devoted clan of followers who even mimic his infamous bowl haircut.
This is the sick “Bowl Gang” that celebrates white supremacist Dylann Roof, the church shooter who is set to be executed, as a “cult hero.”
Despite the horrific shooting that took place in South Carolina, which led to a court’s decision to uphold the death sentence for Roof on Wednesday, the 27-year-old white supremacist has inspired people across the internet.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) explains that Roof supporters “refer to themselves as the ‘Bowl Gang,‘ the ‘Bowl Patrol’ and ‘Bowlwaffen’ or ‘Bowlwaffen Division.’“
The international Jewish non-governmental organisation said the “Bowl Gang” group of Roof supporters has around 40 to 50 active members.
Fans of Roof have taken to social media platforms like Gab and Discord to praise him for his violence.
For instance, one meme shared to 4chan, an anonymous imageboard website, in March 2018 referred to Roof as “the hero of Charleston … who single-handedly … took down 9 wild dindu nuffins … at their weekly racist rally disguised as a church meeting,” the ADL reports, noting that the “dindu nuffin” phrase is “a racist slang term that refers to African-Americans.”
That same year, a Gab user, #NSFWLeeLee, quoted Kevin Strom’s words on Roof, which were, “Dylann Roof’s actions were inevitable because our race still produces men of honour, and men of honour do not go gentle into that good night.”
The ADL explains, “Bowl Gang members also use terms like ‘Disrespect the bowl, pay the toll’ and ‘Dylann Roof did nothing wrong.’”
Also, members of the group share memes online, with some showing Roof with a halo on his head or his bowl haircut on others or by itself.
One meme showed Roof’s haircut to be photoshopped on a shield made to resemble the “divisional insignia of the Waffen SS military units of Nazi Germany,” according to the ADL.
Three years after Roof’s shooting, court documents revealed Gregory Bush, who fatally shot two black people at a Louisville Kroger in October 2018, said Dylann Roof’s name to investigators, WDRB reported.
Court documents reportedly state, “While being transported … (Bush) mentioned the name, ‘Dylann Roof,’ the man who shot and killed nine African American victims in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
“The defendant also shouted ‘Dylann Roof’ while in the interview room at the police station.”
The ADL’s 2019 report read, “Within the past two years, a number of zealous Roof fans and would-be copycats have emerged, including some who have crossed the line into criminal activity.”
The ADL then listed a few white supremacists who have been arrested and expressed they were “inspired” by Roof, including Benjamin McDowell who wanted to launch an attack “in the spirit of Dylann Roof,” Dakota Reed who wanted to “pull a Dylann Roof,” Jeffrey Clark who was arrested on weapons charges and used a Gab screen name “DC Bowl Gang.”
The group also named Elizabeth LeCron and Vincent Armstrong of Toledo, Ohio, noting that Lecron created a Tumblr account called “CharlestonChurchMiracle.”
“No cold record or careful parsing of statutes and precedents can capture the full horror of what Roof did,” the court’s ruling read.
“His crimes qualify him for the harshest penalty that a just society can impose.”
Roof became the first person to be ordered to be put to death for a federal hate crime after the shooting.
He was found guilty of 33 federal charges, including hate crimes and firearms violations.
In an appeal filed in 2020, Roof argued that he was mentally ill when he represented himself at his capital trial.
The appellate attorneys said Roof had been diagnosed with “schizophrenia-spectrum disorder, autism, anxiety, and depression,” but that he “jettisoned” his experienced lawyers during his trial.
In this latest appeal, the court was not convinced to drop the death sentence.
“Dylann Roof murdered African Americans at their church, during their Bible-study and worship,” the court’s decision stated.
“They had welcomed him. He slaughtered them. He did so with the express intent of terrorising not just his immediate victims at the historically important Mother Emanuel Church, but as many similar people as would hear of the mass murder.”
The decision added, “He used the internet to plan his attack and, using his crimes as a catalyst, intended to foment racial division and strife across America. He wanted the widest possible publicity for his atrocities, and, to that end, he purposefully left one person alive in the church ‘to tell the story.’”
The ruling also noted that when he was arrested, Roof “frankly confessed, with barely a hint of remorse,” WBTV reported.
The church’s pastor, Reverand Clementa Pinckney, and eight parishioners died in the shooting.
The other victims of Roof’s rampage were Cynthia Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, the Rev DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, the Rev Daniel Simmons, the Rev Sharonda Singleton, and Myra Thompson.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission