The new Joker movie is out, and with it has come a spate of mass shooting threats. No shootings have occurred, but authorities are on edge in part due to the Aurora, Colorado shooting where 12 people lost their lives in 2012 during the playing of The Dark Knight Rises, another Batman film.
According to CNN, The FBI and Department of Homeland Security sent out a bulletin to warn law enforcement that threats have been posted online relating to The Joker’s opening weekend and “calling for mass shootings at showings of the movie.” They wrote that they hadn’t received any “specific or credible threats,” however.
The bulletin notes that some of the threats mention the incel movement and a subset of it known as “clowncels.” Incels are involuntarily celibate people who feel wronged because they aren’t able to get sexual attention from women. According to the Urban Dictionary, clowncels are members of the Incel Movement who are fascinated by clowns. Incels have been responsible for 27 deaths since 2014. There are threads on Reddit about clowncels and incels. Joker has been controversial in part because some see the character as representing an incel persona.
People have been posting about Joker shooting threats, and the law enforcement response, on social media. “at work last night there were so many police cars outside the movie theater because of the joker shooting threats, we can’t even go to the f*cking movies without worrying,” wrote one frustrated person on Twitter. Wrote another, “I just asked my mom if I could go see the joker and she said no because of shooting threats.” However, many people are going; the Joker is enjoying a box office bonanza.
The Century Theater where the Aurora shooting occurred is not showing the Joker, and victims’ family members have expressed concern about the film.
Where have threats occurred surrounding the Joker movie? Here’s a roundup.
According to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, authorities there arrested Nikolai James Dixon Jr. for “threatening to shoot up the AMC movie theater located on 111 Cinema Dr. Thanks to local citizens and the media who notified us of his online social media post we were able to locate and identify Dixon. At no point did Nixon have the means to carry out any threat. He has been charged with Cyberstalking and is in the New Hanover County Detention Facility.”
Military Commanders Sent Out a Warning After a Texas Bulletin
Military commanders in Oklahoma were warned of possible violent threats relating to the Joker, although the warning didn't specify the theaters, according to Stripes.com.
The site reports that the Army Criminal Investigation Command memo was based on a Texas law enforcement bulletin that revealed the FBI was aware of “disturbing and very specific chatter in the dark web” about a possible Joker shooting.
The Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page posted the memo before removing it. You can see it here. The memo says the initial bulletin came from the Travis County, Texas Sheriff’s Department. The memo says the notice was being given because “Commanders need to be aware of this threat for Soldier and family safety and to increase situational awareness should they choose to attend the release of this movie at a local theater.”
“Out of an abundance of caution, our Fort Sill office distributed the memo to internal military personnel at Fort Sill,” said CID spokesman Christopher Grey to Stripes.com.
In Huntington Beach, California, a movie theater closed due to a threat. The affected theater was the Century Huntington Beach and XD theater in the Bella Terra shopping center at 7777 Edinger Ave., according to The Los Angeles Times. Police did not reveal additional details about this threat.
The threat was deemed credible but wasn’t carried out, according to USA Today.
In New York’s Times Square, a man watching The Joker was escorted out of the theater after applauding at murder scenes, according to CBS Local. CBS reported that the man spit on other moviegoers who left early and yelled at him.
“About halfway through when Joker started killing people and monologuing about how society is evil he started clapping really loudly and incessantly for a good minute. People started yelling for him to shut up, but he kept clapping and cheering like mad,” witness Nathanael Hood told CBS.
In Chicago, panic ensued when two men were removed from a Joker showing in handcuffs, and police responded with long guns. The men were accused of standing and talking out loud, smoking and “blowing smoke in people’s faces,” throughout the movie, according to Fox32 Chicago.
In Tennessee, a drive-up theater banned Joker costumes as a precaution. Twin City Drive-In Theatre wrote on its Facebook page: “Just a note to anyone coming to see The Joker this weekend. Costumes WILL NOT be allowed. Anyone wearing a costume will not be admitted, and anyone who sneaks a costume in in their car and wears it around WILL be asked to leave immediately. We appreciate your cooperation on this.”
It’s not just the United States. In Australia, a Sydney theater playing the Joker dealt with a threatening message posted to 4Chan. The post was later shared on Reddit. It read, “some of you guys are alright. Don’t go to ritz cinemas sydney tomorrow.” The “some of you guys” line mirrors a 4Chan post before an Oregon mass school shooting in 2015, according to 10daily.com.
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