Attorneys for a man convicted in a 2016 anti-Muslim hate crime asked a federal judge to consider President Donald Trump’s inflammatory campaign rhetoric as a “backdrop” to the case prior to issuing a sentence.
Patrick Stein was found guilty in April of possessing weapons of mass destruction and of conspiring to kill Muslim refugees in rural Kansas on the day after the 2016 presidential election, according to HuffPost.
Along with Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright, the three men plotted to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas that housed Muslims. Throughout the planning of the attack, Stein went by the label “Orkin Man” and referred to Muslims as “cockroaches” that he wanted to exterminate using weapons dipped in pigs blood.
In a memo filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court in the District of Kansas, Stein’s attorneys James Pratt and Michael Shultz argued that Stein should receive a sentence of no longer than 15 years.
“The court cannot ignore the circumstances of one of the most rhetorically mold-breaking, violent, awful, hateful and contentious presidential elections in modern history, driven in large measure by the rhetorical China shop bull who is now our president,” they wrote.
At the trial, defense attorneys referred to Stein and the other two defendants as “knuckleheads” who were engaged in “locker room talk” and were propelled to action by Trump’s win that many people did not see coming.
“Trump’s win changed everything, and it is reasonable to speculate that it would have changed things among the defendants as well,” they wrote. “It is logical to conclude that the discussed attack would never have happened in the world that existed post-Trump.”
The memo also discussed how Stein’s fear of Muslims which “came directly from the internet and conservative talk-show hosts such as Sean Hannity and Michael Savage,” in addition to his long-term struggles with alcohol and meth addictions made him “the perfect, vulnerable target” for the FBI to arrest.
“A person normally at a 3 on a scale of political talk might have found themselves at a 7 during the election,” the memo stated. “A person, like Patrick, who would often be at a 7 during a normal day might ‘go to 11.’”
According to Ibrahim Hooper, communications director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, violent attacks like Stein’s toward Muslims in the United States are not surprising given Trump’s ongoing track record of blatant Islamophobia.
“Trump has been inciting violence against Muslims in the United States since he started his presidential campaign. That’s nothing new,” Hooper told The Globe Post. “His appointments, his policies and his rhetoric all incite against the safety of American Muslims.”
He added that Republicans should condemn and repudiate this “racist, dog whistle language” each time the president uses it in order to prevent plotted attacks against Muslims in the future.
“I think it’s clear that Trump’s racist, white supremacist, and Islamophobic rhetoric has created an atmosphere in which these kinds of violent incidents are inevitable,” Hooper said. “You’re always going to have a tiny minority of extremists who take this rhetoric and turn it into violent actions and I think that’s something that Trump should recognize and deal with, and should be dealt with also by Republican leaders who up until now have been almost silent on the subject.”
Stein, along with his co-defendants, is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday. Their lawyers argued that 15 years in prison, along with 10 years of supervised release would be an appropriate punishment for the crime. The government is seeking life sentences for all three defendants.