Pam Geller (AP/David Karp)

Pam Geller responds to deadly shooting at anti-Islam event: "This is a war, and the war is here"

The gunmen have not been identified, and police declined to say whether the shooting was related to the event


Scott Eric Kaufman
May 4, 2015 4:54PM (UTC)

Two gunmen opened fire at a Garland, Texas "Draw the Prophet" contest hosted by anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller and the American Freedom Defense Initiative last night.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the city of Garland explained that as the day's "Muhammad Art Exhibit event at the Curtis Culwell Center was coming to an end, two males drove up to the front of the building in a car. Both males were armed and began shooting at a Garland ISD security officer."

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One of the officers was shot in the ankle -- both of the shooters, who police have not yet identified, were shot dead. The statement did not indicate whether authorities believe the event was targeted, but Geller had no doubts, telling Fox News that "the idea we are going to abridge our freedom, our most basic inalienable right, in order to not offend savages is egregious. It is outrageous. This is a war and the war is here. Not in Paris, not in Copenhagen -- but in Texas."

Geller was being interviewed when the attacks occurred. She had just finished praising the "room of freedom lovers, brave Americans, who knew it was risky" but "took a stand for freedom because they know its scary out there" when security officials informed her of the shootings and whisked her away:

The event not only featured depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, it was offering a $10,0000 reward for the "best" cartoon depicting him. Geller knew the event would be controversial, as she posted on Twitter:

[embedtweet id="594921313451446272"]

After the shootings occurred, she wrote that they demonstrated "how much needed [sic] our event really was," adding that "[t]he freedom of speech is under violent assault here in our nation."

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She told Fox News that despite the shootings, the "Draw the Prophet" contest had been decided, and was "won by a former Muslim." When asked whether she considered her organization to be controversial, Geller said that "a free speech conference is not controversial -- shooting people is controversial. There's a moral inversion, a problem -- the American people need to stand up for the basic founding principle" of the United States.

Watch a report on the shooting via Fox News below.


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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