Where did Purdue grad’s plot fit in alt-right’s rise?
Purdue prof: When it comes to alt-right sphere and radicalization, ‘not a great deal of space between them’
In the days that followed the guilty plea of Jonathan Frost, a 2020 Purdue graduate and one of three men accused of plotting to start a race war by shooting up substations in the U.S. power grid, his attorney has asserted the 24-year-old from Katy, Texas, has disavowed his racist views since he was arrest and charged.
“He understands how hurtful and immoral those positions were and are,” Sam Shamansky, Frost’s attorney, told the Washington Post.
To the New York Times, Shamansky said: “Regrettably, Mr. Frost fell prey to the misinformation espoused on the internet and now recognizes how dangerous the medium can be. Moreover, Mr. Frost has committed himself toward rehabilitation and doing everything within his power to remedy his misdeeds.”
The guilty pleas entered Wednesday for Frost and two others – Christopher Brenner Cook, 20, of Columbus, Ohio, and Jackson Matthew Sawall, 22, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin – told about how encounters in an online chatroom escalated into a neo-Nazi scheme called “Lights Out,” which they hoped would sow chaos across the country in the name of a white supremacist order. The court documents tell about weapon sales, explosives, recruiting juveniles to join the cause, propaganda and “suicide necklaces” filled with fentanyl to end it if things went badly.
Frost, Sawall and Cook each face up to 15 years in prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Here, it remained a case that hit close to home, with a plot put into motion in a student’s final year before graduating from the West Lafayette campus.
I checked in with David Atkinson, an associate professor of history at Purdue and author of a 2017 book called “The Burden of White Supremacy,” who studies white nationalist movements through history and how they play out today.
The timing seemed right with Frost’s case last week and the weekend news of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene landing as a speaker at the America First Political Action Conference in Florida. (Greene has since back pedaled, contending she didn’t understand the white nationalist bent of the group.)
Either way, here’s a thread about how that went …
And here’s the conversation with Atkinson …
Question: Was this a surprise or a shock that a Purdue student would have been in on a plot like the one outlined in federal court last week?