Federal agents have arrested a black man in Buffalo, New York, for making a false threat against black people to see whether racists on social media would support him.
According to WIVB-TV in Buffalo, Rolik Walker, 24, of Buffalo, was arrested for a tweet he supposedly published on May 16 from an anonymous account. In the tweet, he reportedly threatened that he and his “associates” would be “targeting” Buffalo-area grocery stores and that they were “only looking to kill blacks.”
Walker, who is black, allegedly issued the tweet under the Twitter handle @ConklinHero just two days after white man Payton Gendron, 18, from Conklin, New York, allegedly shot and killed 10 black people and injured three others at a Tops Friendly Markets grocery store in Buffalo. The violent crime has been deemed a “racially motivated hate crime.”
An FBI affidavit claims that Walker “stated that the purpose of the post was to see what everyone would say and if anyone would agree with him.”
Court filings state that Walker attempted to obscure the origin of the @ConklinHero account by using an app that masks IP addresses.
Prosecutors also claim that Walker told law enforcement that he created a second anonymous Twitter account “in an effort to rectify the earlier post.” In the second post, Walker supposedly replaced “only looking to kill blacks” with “ants, spiders and things of that nature.” Police say they did recover from his cellphone a screenshot of a post from the second account that claims he didn’t mean any harm.
On Thursday, U.S Attorney Trini E. Ross announced that Walker had been arrested and charged with making an interstate threat. The charge carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Walker appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer on Thursday and was given a conditional release. He has been assigned an attorney.