Lawyer says Indiana synagogue vandal was radicalized by conservatives

Lawyer says Indiana synagogue vandal was radicalized by conservatives
© Facebook: Debby Barton Grant

The lawyer for a man who pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime after vandalizing an Indiana synagogue is arguing that conservative media outlets and commentators helped radicalize him, specifically naming conservative commentator Ben Shapiro

Samuel Ansell, the lawyer for Nolan Brewer, made the argument in a sentencing memo in which he asserted that the 21-year-old did not deserve prison time for charges stemming from anti-Semitic vandalism, according to The Washington Post

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The memo, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, claimed that Brewer had been heavily influenced by his wife, Kiyomi Brewer, and what she was consuming online. 

“According to Nolan, she began with rightwing yet mainstream views such as those presented on Fox News,” the memo reads, according to the Post. “She then moved on to writings by Ben Shapiro and articles on Breitbart News which bridged the gap to the notorious white supremacist and anti-Semitic propaganda site Stormfront.”

Shapiro is the founder of the conservative site The Daily Wire and the host of the popular podcast "The Ben Shapiro Show." Ansell wrote, among other things, that Nolan Brewer "bought into the propaganda."

Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, dismissed the idea that his commentary could cause Nolan Brewer to become radicalized. 

"Yes, if there's one thing I'm known for — as one of the most prominent Orthodox Jews, targets of the alt-right, and critics of the alt-right in America — it's directing Nazis to attack synagogues," he tweeted over the weekend. " "What garbage."

Despite Ansell's argument, a federal judge last week sentenced Nolan Brewer to three years in prison for conspiring to violate the civil rights of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in Carmel, Ind. Brewer had pleaded guilty to the charge. 

The sentencing occurred almost a year after he and Kiyomi Brewer, who was 17 at the time, were arrested for spray painting red and black Nazi flags and two iron crosses on the synagogue's property. They also set the ground near the property on fire. 

Brewer told federal agents at the time that he had  vandalized the synagogue because it was “full of ethnic Jews."

Prosecutors said that the two had planned to set the synagogue on fire with "Drano bombs," but that they scrapped the idea in the moment, the Post reported. 

Prosecutors also reportedly said that the two had been reading white supremacist propaganda on the internet and discussing its meaning before the attack. In addition, a statement from the Justice Department said that Nolan Brewer had openly identified with Nazism and white supremacy to co-workers. 

Kevin Karimi, a lawyer for Kiyomi Brewer, told The Indianapolis Star that his client was charged as an adult despite being 17 at the time of the incident. Court documents said that she had pleaded guilty to arson and had received probation at a sentencing hearing last month, the newspaper added.