On Friday, authorities arrested Cesar Sayoc in relation to the mailed pipe bombs sent to prominent members of the Democratic Party, as well as vocal critics of the Trump Administration.
Although officials refused to disclose what might have motivated him, his social media, court records, and interviews with people who knew him make it glaringly clear that he was a deeply troubled man who struggled with his identity, and was full of anger. His motives seem highly-partisan, so much so that even Jeff Sessions has been forced to concede that Sayoc appears to be partisan.
Sayoc, a registered Republican who lives in Aventura, Florida, is a vocal, and avid supporter of President Donald Trump. His white van is covered with photos of the president, and with photos of the president’s critics with red targets on their faces, as well as a large decal that says, “CNN sucks.”
Sayoc presented himself as a member of the Seminole tribe, and said he lived on the reservation and worked for the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL. There was, however, no evidence to support this claim. Furthermore, a quick background check revealed that his mother is Italian, and his father is Filipino. A far cry from NAtive American roots. It seems that Sayoc created a different reality in his head, one where he was part of the Seminole tribe, and an entrepreneur, and at the center of all these businesses.
Unsurprisingly, lawyer David McDonald who questioned Sayoc for his deposition said Sayoc was, “maybe delusional” but he was also, “glib and articulate.”
This incident also was not Sayoc’s first encounter with law enforcement, as his records indicate several arrests for larceny, fraud, and drug possession. In 2002, he was charged with calling Florida Power and Light and threatening to blow up the utility. He claimed that “it would be worse than Sept. 11.” He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.
A Miami attorney, Lowy, representing Sayoc’s mother Madeline Giardiello, as well as his sisters Sabrina and Tina, said Sayoc hadn’t been in contact with his mother for three years, and never showed an interest in politics when they were last in touch.
This seems peculiar given that he is alleged to have gone on a racist, sexist tirade at a 2015 reunion with his college soccer team, where he rambled on about conspiracy theories to his teammates.
His cousin, who wished to remain anonymous, said that Sayoc “was a really good guy who wouldn’t want to hurt anyone”, and that the bombs were a “hoax.” The cousin believed that the bombs were Sayoc’s way of saying that you can’t speak out against the president. In the aftermath of this horrific, politically-charged instance of violence, one thing is crystal clear: these bombs were NOT a hoax.
Another thing to note: the president’s crude behavior, and fear-mongering brings out something very dark in people who already have some deep-seated issues. People like Cesar Sayoc. Being cavalier about racist, sexist tendencies, and encouraging gaslight politics, is the kind of behavior that normalizes racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. Contrary to what the president says, it isn’t “telling it like it is”; it suppresses freedom of speech for already marginalized members of society. Rhetoric like that is what enables people like Sayoc to act out in these brutal ways. Like it or not, we are at a crossroads; and we cannot allow political violence to take root here.