Could Joker Screenings Result In Extremist Violence?
The US Military protects by anticipating what could happen. Joker screenings are going to be taking place all over the country this weekend. Service members are warning about the likelihood of extremist violence happening at the movie theatres when the movie comes out. While it’s not a guarantee that extremist violence will occur, the military would prefer to err on the side of caution.
There have been a number of mass shootings, creating domestic terrorism by extremists. The Army has been creating notices after a bulletin from the FBI that it’s possible extremists are going to replicate the mass shooting that happened in 2012 at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado.
The 2012 shooting happened at a Century 16 movie theatre during the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” It was a well-executed strike that involved tear gas grenades followed by an extremist shooting into the audience using several firearms. A total of 70 were injured and 12 were killed. The shooter, later identified as James Eagan Holmes, used a shotgun, a semi-automatic rifle, and a .40-caliber handgun.
The use of multiple weapons also made this one of the more interesting mass shootings because most are done solely with a semi-automatic rifle. It shows that those aren’t the only guns that can kill – and it launched a significant conversation about gun control in the United States.
An increase in security at movie theatres happened around the country as people feared the possibility of copycat crimes. While no other theatres were hit, it was done as a precaution. Further, although there have been other Batman-style movies hitting the theatres, the Joker is the closest in the series, which is why many feel that this one is more likely to follow what happened in 2012.
While there are no known threats that will happen at the Joker opening, which happens on October 4, it does provide a potential risk to DOD personnel and their family members.
The notice that has been issued by the Army identifies individuals to identify two escape routes if they’re going to go to the movie theatre and to remain aware of their surroundings at all times. They also provide the reminder, “Run, hide, fight.” They say to run if you are able to, hide if you are stuck, and if the shooter finds you, fight using any means necessary.
Another memo that was received by the criminal investigation arm of the Army identifies that there was a credible threat received in Travis County, Texas. The sheriff’s office there is currently working with the local FBI field office to try to obtain more information and be prepared if there is a strike.
FBI offices have identified that there is “very specific” chatter happening across the dark web that may be linked to the showing of The Joker. There is the possibility that one or multiple extremists are looking to target a movie theatre in the United States during the release of the movie. It is unknown as to what movie theatre could be hit. As such, the military is urging its service members to be aware of the threat so that they can secure family safety. They also want to make sure that everyone has increased situational awareness in the event that they choose to attend the movie’s release.
There’s also an incel group that has been gaining national attention over the past several years. They are radicalized members that encourage violence to reach an ideology. Some of these self-identified individuals within this subgroup include Elliott Rodger, someone responsible for killing six people and injuring 14 others near the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California in 2014. There was also Nicholas Cruz, who allegedly injured 17 and killed 17 others at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school located in Parkland, Florida. He was the same person that posted online that Elliott Rodger would not be forgotten – which has led many people to wonder if he conducted the Parkland shooting in memory of Rodger.
With the US military and the FBI aware of the possibility of a shooting, there will be a significant amount of added security around movie theaters. However, there are hundreds of thousands of movie theaters around the United States and it is impossible to determine where radical groups would want to target. As such, everyone is being told to prepare for the possibility of a mass shooting. While no one needs to stay away from the movie theater, everyone should be increasing their situational awareness to avoid problems if a shooting does occur.