The white nationalist group that alleged killer Dylann Roof apparently relied on for his distorted information on black rapists is not backing down from its assertions, with its spokesman today condemning the South Carolina church shooting but insisting that Roof "has some legitimate grievances."
"We of course categorically condemn his act, but that doesn't mean his motives weren't entirely legitimate," Jared Taylor, a spokesperson for the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), told ABC News today, shortly after the group put out statement "emphasiz[ing] the danger of denying the extent of black-on-white crime."
"It's taboo to even talk about this," Taylor said. "Even as we're speaking right now, a white woman is probably being raped by a black man... If we're going to have any kind of honest discussion of race in this country, you're going to have to talk about black-on-white violence."
Taylor said Roof was not a member of the organization and that no members with whom he had spoken had ever heard of the 21-year-old. But Roof purportedly found the CofCC online and, according to a manifesto law enforcement sources say was likely written by Roof, it played a key role in sending him down a path that would eventually lead to a massacre in a South Carolina church.
"But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words 'black on White crime' into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders," Roof purportedly wrote. "I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong."
Witnesses said that during the shooting, Roof told his victims that he had to act because "you're raping our women" and "taking over our country."
Taylor said the CofCC can understand where Roof is coming from. In speaking with ABC News, Taylor repeated a dubious statistic circulated by the CofCC, claiming that every year 20,000 white women are raped by black men.
In claiming that black men rape 20,000 white women a year, based on a 2008 Department of Justice report, the group has clearly exaggerated and misused the statistics. The 20,000 figure refers to white victims of a wide range of alleged sexual crimes including rape, sexual assault or “verbal threats.” Nor does the group acknowledge that in that same year, the vast majority of those accused of the same crimes were white, nearly 90,000 out of the 118,000 incidents involving white victims.
A tool on the BJS website that does not take into account the victim's race says that nearly 4,000 black individuals were arrested for rape in 2008. The same year, nearly 10,000 whites were.
Heidi Beirich, who studies hate groups as the Intelligence Project Director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told ABC News last week that the line about black men raping white women is "probably the most common racist statement ever said against black men in the United States."
"This idea that black men are raping white women, it goes to the heart of the white supremacist thing," she said. "I mean basically the propaganda that they believe are that black people are violent, sexual deviants, everything bad that you can say about a population. And what they do is they cite every single crime involving some kind of African-American attack on a white person and claim these are hate crimes against whites. Of course, it's a terrible mixing of what's a hate crime and what is just common street crime that people suffer all the time. But the way they've come to see it, is that white genocide is happening and it's being perpetrated by black people."
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the CofCC as a hate group -- a designation Taylor denies.
Taylor told ABC News that although the media covers up or brushes aside the "horribly lopsided plague of black-on-white violence," there are others like Roof who see it, and Taylor said that the "denunciation of whites" in the wake of the shooting will only make things worse.
"This is dangerous," said the statement released by the CofCC today. "Our society's silence about these crimes -- despite enormous amounts of attention to 'racially tinged' acts by whites -- only increases the anger of people like Dylann Roof. This double standard only makes acts of murderous frustration more likely."
Before it was alleged that Roof found the CofCC online, Beirich told ABC News that the internet was a "gold mine for white supremacists in terms of messaging, just like it is for everybody else."
"Unfortuately, there are fragile-minded folks who get exposed to this stuff and sometimes commit acts of violence," she said.
When asked if there were more Dylann Roofs out there, Taylor said, "that's a terrifying possibility."
Roof was arrested last week in North Carolina after a frantic manhunt. He has not entered a plea in the case.