This past week has seen a pair of shootings on both the East Coast and the West Coast, with the former being a bigger story since it involved a Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. The gunman in Alexandria, James Thomas Hodgkinson, shot Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise and several other individuals before being fatally gunned down by law enforcement. Meanwhile, a disgruntled UPS employee named Jimmy Lam fatally shot three co-workers and wounded two others at a UPS facility in San Francisco before shooting himself.
Both shooters apparently had mental problems, but in the case of Hodgkinson, the motive was political. He was involved in Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, and belonged to a Facebook group named “Terminate the Republican Party”. Hodgkinson also had a criminal record. It should also be noted that authorities discovered a list of people in Hodgkinson’s pocket whom he intended to shoot. The list included the names of several Republican Congressmen.
When I heard that Hodgkinson had devised a hit list, it reminded me of political activist Scott Camil, a Marine who served in Vietnam and then went on to become an anti-war activist, even going so far to become involved in John Kerry’s Winter Soldier Investigation and become a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). As was the case with various members of VVAW, Camil presented a bunch of stories of alleged war crimes by American service personnel, none of which could be verified by investigators. Hence, such stories were made up.
But Camil did not stop there. At a University of Florida homecoming parade in 1971, Camil (who was a student there) and other anti-war activists created a scene which not only consisted of an anti-war march and handing out leaflets, but smoke bombs being set off and the activists pretending to stab spectators, who were actually their fellow activists with packets of blood hidden underneath their clothes.
Prior to the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Camil and his fellow activists received information that the government planned to shoot someone at the convention and blame it on the anti-war activists, then raise the drawbridges in the area in order to trap the protesters and gun them down. Despite the fact that such information was most likely false, Camil and his group (named the “Gainesville Eight”) came up with their own preemptive strike by attacking federal building, police stations, and fire stations, then raise the drawbridges so their fellow activists could escape. The Gainesville Eight was arrested for conspiring to carry out such a plan due to an FBI informant, but were acquitted by claiming that their actions were for defensive purposes only.
But Camil is best known for a plan he devised at a VVAW meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1971, in which he proposed the assassination of several pro-war Senators. The proposal was rejected by other members of the group, including John Kerry (who claimed he was not present at the meeting despite the group’s documentation and FBI surveillance proving otherwise). Such a proposal earned Camil the nickname “Scott the Assassin”. But it seems that Camil is more of an assassin-wannabe, who is more bark than he is bite. And if he is still willing to get physical, then perhaps he could prove himself on WWE’s Monday Night Raw or Smackdown.
Camil somehow managed to avoid being arrested for his assassination proposal, and he is still an activist to this day. And it is highly likely he approved of Hodgkinson’s actions.
Image Excerpted from: Photo by Frank Wolfe. Posted to Flickr by David Shapinsky; Public Domain: Vietnam War: Protesters on Memorial Bridge, October 1967 by Frank Wolfe (NARA), CC BY-SA 2.0; https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4230162