All Thursday I watched cable news toggle back and forth between criticizing President Joe Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal and not knowing how to cover a weird bomb threat by a man named Floyd Ray Roseberry from Grover, N.C., in a pickup truck parked outside the Library of Congress and near several congressional office buildings.
Authorities confirmed that he had what looked like an actual bomb. They evacuated the nearby offices, and some Capitol Hill neighbors.
Roseberry livestreamed his message on Facebook, so there were no mysteries about what he was trying to do. Just a few choice quotes: “Somebody needs to tell Joe Biden we here. Fucking revolution starts today, Joe Biden. And before you go crackin’ any pops on me, you better get your military experts out and ask them what a seven-pound keg of gunpowder would do with two-and-a-half pounds of tannerite on that motherfucker! You know what else? I’m not going to light it. I’m going to give Joe Biden the option to.”
“It’s time to take a stand. Well, motherfuckers, I’m here today. I’m setting the foundation. And if all you motherfuckers want to sit at home and explain to your kids why you didn’t go up there, you can do that. I’m good with it. But for me, that ain’t what I am. I’m an American patriot. This platform is going to be built and when it’s built, you’ll know it.… I’m a patriot.… This world’s fucked up.… The Southern boys are here.”
Roseberry claimed there were four other “Southern” bombers, and added: “You can take me out but you know what’s gonna happen, Joe Biden, there’s gonna be a chain reaction. And that chain reaction is going to be on your hands when you crack a bullet through my windows.”
Eventually, Roseberry crawled out of his truck and surrendered.
Even after all of social media was rebroadcasting his sick point of view, the US Capitol Police tweeted that his motive was unconfirmed, and then reiterated that in a press conference. Reuters reported at the time, while everyone on social media was sharing his insane right-wing insurrectionist message: “Police said they did not know his motive.”
I hate to criticize Capitol Police, after all they’ve been through. But it’s hard to believe they couldn’t access Facebook.
Reuters also reported: “Neighbors described Roseberry as a Republican who was known to occasionally wear a red ‘MAGA’ hat to show his support for former President Donald Trump. He also criticized Democrats on social media.”
And Reuters also reported that he terrorized his former wife (as so many domestic terrorists and mass shooters do). “He’s crazy. He pulled a gun on me and his sister, and shot at me numerous times,” his ex-wife told Reuters.
Maybe it’s not a big story. Now it seems like it’s just one guy. The police say the apparent bomb wasn’t one. And I have to say, I really hate the fact that local and national news normally prefers stories of violence over stories of policy or political change.
Still, I think this threat was under-covered. I heard several folks on cable news say it was important not to broadcast his message. But c’mon, folks: His message is broadcast everywhere, every day, to people just like him. Two Library of Congress buildings, plus a House office building, were evacuated, as well as some residents of the nearby neighborhood. The same people terrorized on January 6 were again terrorized; isn’t this a version of terrorism?
Roseberry did exhibit the “economic anxiety” so many pundits have claimed motivated Trump voters, to be honest. He complained about his health insurance, which no longer paid for what he said was serious knee pain, or for coverage for his wife’s skin cancer because it was deemed “cosmetic.”
But he’s clearly part of a cult that honors the disgraced, twice-impeached ex-president Donald Trump. Alabama Representative Mo Brooks, who appeared at the Trump rally that helped incite the January 6 violence (wearing body armor), extended some sympathy to Roseberry on Thursday. “Sadly, violence and threats of violence targeting America’s political institutions are far too common,” Brooks tweeted. “Although this terrorist’s motivation is not yet publicly known, and generally speaking, I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of American society. The way to stop Socialism’s march is for patriotic Americans to fight back in the 2022 and 2024 elections.”
I think every time someone like Roseberry occupies the Capitol grounds—and that’s what I call it when they force the evacuation of congressional buildings and nearby neighbors—we should cover it as a big deal. We should send our best reporters to get to the bottom of it.
And mainstream media should call it what they would if Roseberry weren’t white: terrorism.