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Will Virginia Shooting Be Classified As a Hate Crime?

Both social media posts and a manifesto allegedly from the suspect who shot and killed WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward during a live TV interview, have raised questions about whether the shooting will be classified as a hate crime.

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Rachel Blevins
Rachel Blevins is a journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives.

The shooting that killed WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward and wounded local Chamber of Commerce Executive Vicki Gardner during a live TV interview on Wednesday in Moneta, Virginia, has raised questions about the suspect’s motives, and whether the shooting will be classified as a hate crime.

Several social media posts were found and a 23-page manifesto titled “Suicide Note for Friends and Family” was obtained shortly before the suspect, former WDBJ7 reporter Vester Flanagan, who went by the alias Bryce Williams, died from a self-inflicted gun wound.

[RELATED: Suspect Accused Of Killing Virginia Journalists Dies In Hospital]

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In the manifesto, which was faxed to ABC News on Wednesday morning nearly two hours after the shooting at 8:26 a.m., the author claiming to be Flanagan wrote that he was discriminated against for being a gay, black man while working at WDBJ7.

The manifesto also lists inspirations such as Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold, students who went on a shooting massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, killing 13 people and injuring 24 others, and Seung Hui Cho, a student who opened fire on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007, killing 32 people and wounding 23 others.

Flanagan claimed that the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina in June, in which suspect Dylann Roof reportedly opened fire at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, killing nine, was the final straw.

“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15,” the manifesto stated. “What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”

[quote_center]“As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” [/quote_center]

The Twitter posts after the shooting on an account under the name Bryce Williams, which has since been suspended, also contain complaints about discrimination.

One Tweet claimed that “Alison made racist comments,” while another said “Adam went to HR on me after working with me one time!!!” Flanagan also referenced a report he filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Flanagan, who joined WDBJ7 in 2012 as a multimedia journalist and general assignment reporter, was fired in Feb. 2013 for unknown reasons.

CNN reported that while court documents claim that Ward crossed paths with Flanagan on the day Flanagan was fired from the network, WDBJ7 general manager Jeff Marks noted that Flanagan and Parker had not worked for the station at the same time.

The U.S. Department of Justice defines a hate crime as “the violence of intolerance and bigotry, intended to hurt and intimidate someone because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or disability.”

The DoJ also notes that individuals “may become frustrated and angry if they believe the local government and other groups in the community will not protect them,” and that when perpetrators of hate crimes “are not “persecuted as criminals and their acts are not publicly condemned, their crimes can weaken even those communities with the healthiest race relations.”

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