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Tag: far right extremism

Far-Right Gang Killed Cop In Plot To Blame 2020 Protest Violence On 'Leftists'

Despite the widespread media narrative blaming Black Lives Matter and antifascist activists for last summer's protest violence, there were plenty of suspicions that far-right extremists seeking to intensify the public's fear of the "violent left" were in fact responsible for a significant amount of it. These suspicions were fed by such incidents as the assassination of a federal officer in Oakland by two far-right "Boogaloo Bois" and the arrest of another "Boogaloo" enthusiast from Texas for attacking a police station in Minneapolis.

Now we know, thanks to federal prosecutors investigating the Oakland incident, that in fact it was not the act of a single "lone wolf" and his accomplice, but rather part of a larger plot by group of far-right extremists who called themselves the "Grizzly Scouts" and planned a series of deadly attacks on law-enforcement officers with the intent of making it appear to be the work of the "violent left." Even more disturbing, according to the San Jose Mercury-News, most of these conspirators, following their arrests for destroying evidence in the case, have been released on bond by federal magistrates who have deemed them not a risk to the community.

The Grizzly Scouts, according to the grand jury indictment handed down in April, plotted a variety of lethal actions targeting law-enforcement officers in the months and weeks before fellow "Boogaloo Boi" Steven Carillo—an active-duty Air Force sergeant—shot and killed federal protection officer Dave Patrick Underwood on May 29, 2020, and then a week later, a Santa Cruz sheriff's deputy seeking to arrest him. Carrillo was a key member of the group, which in addition to planning attacks on police, engaged in paramilitary training exercises at the home of a member near Turlock, California.

The four men named in the indictment—Jessie Alexander Rush, 29, of Turlock; Robert Jesus Blancas, 33, of Castro Valley; Simon Sage Ybarra, 23, of Los Gatos; and Kenny Matthew Miksch, 21, of San Lorenzo—and Carrillo used a WhatsApp chat group for the Grizzly Scouts labeled "209 Goon HQ" to plan their attacks and organize training sessions as part of the so-called "Boogaloo" movement with which they identified.

The men created a so-called "Quick Reaction Force" intended to perpetrate acts of violence against their perceived enemies, and sent one member to scout a protest in Sacramento. They also cooked up an "Operations Order" document describing police officers as "enemy forces," and described taking some law-enforcement officers prisoner: "POWs will be searched for intel and gear, interrogated, stripped naked, blindfolded, driven away and released into the wilderness blindfolded with hands bound."

On May 26, three days before he shot Underwood, along with another federal officer who survived, at a Black Lives Matter protest in Oakland, Carrillo had messaged Ybarra that he wanted to conduct a "cartel style" attack on police, and the two men then met in person in Ybarra's van to discuss the idea. Before leaving his home in Ben Lomond for Oakland on May 29, Carrillo had texted Ybarra that he was heading out to "snipe some you know what's."

Carrillo then met up with another "Boogaloo Boi" named Robert Justus Jr., 30, of Millbrae, who drove the van to the BLM protest with Carrillo in the passenger seat, armed with the rifle he then used to open fire at a guard booth at the Ron Dellums Federal Building manned by Underwood and his partner. Justus later turned himself in to authorities.

During the week following the shootings, the Grizzly Scouts discussed their hopes that then-President Donald Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act as a response to the violence at the protests, which were inspired by the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman.

"[T]hat ^^^ will be our sign," Rush—who had himself previously served in the military—texted the others. "That effectively means the federal gov has declared war on things they're afraid of." He added that "the gov spent 100s of thousands of dollars on training me, im gonna use that s—."

The Grizzly Scouts also considered various ways to concoct violence between leftist antifascist groups and police. Blancas told the others that he was "totally down" with the idea of disguising himself as an antifascist while stirring up violence.

"It's the tactically sound option," Blancas wrote. "Them f—ing each other up only helps us."

Their plans, however, fell apart on June 6 when sheriff's deputies, investigating reports of a van in the Santa Cruz mountains matching the description of one that witnesses identified at the scene in Oakland, arrived at the scene of what turned out to be Carrillo's mountain compound stocked with guns, bombs, and ammunition just as the van pulled away. They followed it to Carrillo's home in Ben Lomond where he then retreated, and when deputies went to arrest him, he unleashed a torrent of gunfire and pipe bombs, killing Sheriff's Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, and wounding another.

Carrillo, who was himself wounded during the fight, left the scene in a white sedan, and then was found an hour later after running through his back yard, jumping onto a neighbor's property, entering the man's home and demanding his car keys. After the neighbor obeyed, he seized an opportunity to tackle Carrillo from behind and did so, knocking away his AR-15 in the process, and then knocking away both a pipe bomb and his handgun when he tried to reach for them while on the ground. The neighbor held him there until deputies arrived and took Carrillo away.

Prior to the deputies' arrival at his mountain compound, Carrillo had texted the other members of the Grizzly Scout group on WhatsApp, according to the documents filed in the four men's indictment. He told the group that he was "preparing to engage in a shoot-out with law enforcement," the indictment says. "Carrillo asked the other Grizzly Scouts to come to his aid, saying: 'Kit up and get here. Theres inly one road in/out. Take them out when theyre coming in. ... Police are here fkr me . . . Theyre waiting for reenforcements im listening to them."

Carrillo explained his predicament to the "209 Goon HQ" participants: "Dudes i offed a fed."

At that point, the other Grizzly Scouts promptly went into ass-covering mode, destroying evidence of their interactions. Rush instructed Carrillo to "factory reset" his phone, which the indictment notes "would have had the effect of deleting and destroying any evidence on it, including any stored communications." The other men all promptly deleted any records of the "209 Goon HQ" WhatsApp group from their phones, including the discussions about violence against law enforcement and Carrillo's confession.

These deleted files, according to the indictment, "appeared to include, for example, files concerning the rank structure of the Grizzly Scouts, a non-disclosure agreement requiring members of the Grizzly Scouts to maintain the confidentiality of the group's materials, a liability release waiver, descriptions of Grizzly Scouts uniforms, and a scorecard to assess members of the Grizzly Scouts with respect to combat, firearms, medical, and other training."

Carrillo now faces multiple felony charges in both the Oakland murder and the Ben Lomond shooting, while Justus has been charged with acting as his accomplice.

However, his Grizzly Scout cohorts so far have only been charged with obstructing justice, primarily because of their attempts to cover the militia group's tracks leading to Carrillo. Three of the four men have been released from custody on bond; only Blancas remains in prison, largely because he also faces a child enticement charge related to alleged sexual conversations with a teenage girl discovered in the course of the investigation. Ybarra was released by a federal judge in Sacramento, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley released Rush and Miksch after their hearings in April.

Miksch was released on a $25,000 bond to the custody of his parents, who insisted their son was a "good kid." Corley, while calling his views "abhorrent," also released Rush under the custody of his wife on a $50,000 bond. Corley imposed certain restrictions on the men: monitored internet use, a prohibition on weapons possession, and not contacting other militia members.

Carrillo's path of radicalization was the subject of an April ProPublica investigative piece that detailed how social media and internet conspiracy sites led him to join the Grizzly Scouts and plan acts of terrorist violence in the name of a far-right-fueled civil war. The report uncovered documents showing how the Grizzly Scouts went about organizing for those acts:

The documents also make clear that Carrillo's military background, in particular his advanced combat and weapons training, provided exactly the qualities the Grizzly Scouts wanted in its recruits. The Grizzly Scouts' members — law enforcement officials say the group had attracted 27 recruits — were given military ranks and roles based on their level of military training and prior combat experience. Some Grizzly Scouts were designated "snipers," others were assigned to "clandestine operations," and some were medics or drivers. Whatever their role, all were expected to maintain go kits that included "combat gauze" and both a "primary" and "secondary" weapon.

"This group was different," Jim Hart, the sheriff of Santa Cruz County, where Ben Lomond is located, told ProPublica. "There was a definite chain of command and a line of leadership within this group."

Ironically, Carrillo's lethal violence nonetheless had its intended effect in spreading the right-wing narrative that the "violent left" was primarily responsible for the mayhem around anti-police-brutality protests. The very killings he perpetrated, in fact, were trotted out by Republican Senator Ted Cruz as evidence of "antifa violence" during a Senate hearing, and by then-Vice President Mike Pence in his GOP Convention acceptance speech.

New Oregon GOP Chair Tied To Violent Right-Wing Extremists

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Dallas Heard, the newly elected chair of the Oregon Republican Party, once visited an armed militia group as it illegally occupied a federal wildlife facility. Heard also has connections to anti-mask extremists and was involved in protests at the Oregon state Capitol on January 6, the same day as the attack by supporters of Donald Trump on the U.S. Capitol.

On Monday it was announced that Heard, a state senator, had been elected to the position. The selection of Heard is seen as a move further to the right for the state party, which recently described the attack on the U.S. Capitol as a "false flag" event.

Democrats currently control the Oregon House, Senate, and governorship.

In 2016, as a state representative, Heard traveled to the headquarters of the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, which was at the time being occupied by an armed right-wing militia led by Ammon Bundy, son of the anti-government figure Cliven Bundy.

Heard met with the younger Bundy against the advice of law enforcement and expressed sympathy for the group's demand that federal lands be turned over to the states.

The occupation went on for 40 days and ended with multiple indictments and arrests, including prison sentences for nine people involved in the assault. One militant was killed during a confrontation with law enforcement.

In addition to his involvement with the militia, Heard is also connected to Citizens Against Tyranny, an Oregon group that opposes safety measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19. Heard offered to raffle off some of his personal possessions to provide financial support to the group.

Citizens Against Tyranny posted online the names of two women who they claimed had filed complaints with OSHA about businesses in Oregon not fully complying with COVID restrictions. The site described the women as "filthy traitors" in type designed to look blood-spattered.

Rick Wesenberg, the district attorney for Douglas County, Oregon, condemned Citizens Against Tyranny for engaging in "intimidation."

"Public shaming and banning of certain 'listed' Douglas County citizens is offensive to our democracy and the due process of law," he added.

John Hanlin, the sheriff of the county, also criticized the group's tactics.

Earlier in 2020, Heard spoke in opposition to mask mandates during a special legislative session and took off his mask as a form of protest.

Heard was also involved in rallies held by Trump supporters in opposition to Democratic control of the state government.

At a December 2020 rally at the state Capitol, Heard told a crowd that he was in "full support" of them entering the locked building. Members of that crowd later stormed the building, attacking security officers, damaging property inside, and harassing legislators.

A man who stood next to Heard as he made his comment, David Medina, was later a member of the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol and was recorded speaking outside of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.

That same day, Heard spoke to a right-wing rally outside the Oregon Capitol and told them, "Don't let any of these punks from that stone temple over there ever tell you they are better than any of you."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Police Leadership Confronts Far-Right Extremism In The Ranks

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

American policymakers face a real conundrum when it comes to tackling the spread of right-wing extremism and its attendant terroristic violence, a problem that became self-evident amid the January 6 Capitol insurrection and its aftermath: How can law enforcement effectively curtail the illegal activities of right-wing extremists when so many officers are themselves participants in these movements?

The answer — which is that it cannot — suggests that effectively confronting far-right extremism must begin with police reform, and particularly the task of weeding extremists out of our police forces. The public cannot expect agencies tasked with enforcing the laws that prohibit extremist violence to do so seriously when those same extremists permeate their ranks.

The issue became self-evident when it emerged that some 31 law-enforcement officers in 12 states have been linked to the January 6 Capitol siege. Police departments around the country are now struggling with the enormity of the job, as the Los Angeles Times recently examined, focusing on the efforts of Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore to confront extremism within the force he oversees.

The most difficult aspect of the problem for police is the extent to which far-right views have been normalized within the mainstream, and particularly within the ranks of police officers. The issue gets to the heart of a police culture that has become increasingly penetrated by right-wing politics and is simultaneously hostile to accountability for its officers' behavior. When cops are also far-right extremists who engage in discriminatory policing, American police officials have a history of closing ranks and defending the status quo.

Moore, in an interview with the Times, voiced some of these cultural tensions when asked whether he would drum out officers who were found to be members of the Proud Boys, a far-right hate group. He at first suggested that the Proud Boys were part of a broad category of groups that included Black Lives Matter with which the public was still grappling.

"America is struggling today with understanding whether the Proud Boys, some aspects of BLM, other groups including Heritage Foundation and others, represent ideology that's counter to this democracy," Moore said. "What I know is that this democracy is made best when there is discussion and there's dialogue and debate."

However, he clarified that he personally considers the Proud Boys an organization that "runs counter to this democracy," and does not believe that "there is any place for a law enforcement officer to be a member of such organization or advocate for their existence."

Moore added that he is unaware of any Proud Boys or members of any other extremist group within the ranks of current LAPD officers, but is prepared to investigate any such claims, indicating he would fire anyone who "crosses the line" of what is acceptable.

LAPD officials were driven by last summer's anti-police-brutality protests, Moore said, to examine how best to comb their ranks for extremists and weed them out, suggesting they were especially motivated by the realization that the presence of such police would seriously undermine efforts to rebuild trust within the city's diverse neighborhoods. Moore rejected any suggestion that extremism was prevalent among his officers, noting that the LAPD is a diverse department, both ethnically and politically.

"What's really critical I believe going forward is for America to ... recognize extremes and have no place for them in this democracy, but also to recognize views that are different from their own and not vilify or call them extremist," Moore said.

Extremism within the ranks of law enforcement, however, is not just a community relations problem. Much more broadly, it also affects what laws are enforced and how. And it has a direct impact on the broader national effort to push back the incoming tide of white nationalist and other far-right extremist violence.

The primary problem with domestic terrorism in America is that our law-enforcement apparatus at every level—federal, state, and local—has failed to enforce the laws already on the books that provide them with more than enough ability to confront it. The ongoing presence of officers sympathetic to their cause—and for whom, in fact, their radical extremism is invisible—is one of the major proximate causes of this failure.

It is already, for example, a federal crime to share bomb-making recipes on the internet. It's also a federal crime to advocate the assassinations of public officials or to otherwise threaten them with violence. Yet what began as a few angry voices on the fringes of the internet—and thus easy for law-enforcement authorities to ignore—has grown into a massive flood in large part because these laws are only selectively and lightly enforced.

As Moustafa Bayoumi observed at The Nation:

[T]here is already plenty of prosecutorial power on the books to deal with far-right violence. The problem is not that we need to expand our laws. Rather, the problem is making sure we use our laws, and that we use them fairly, consistently, and to the full extent possible. The real scandal here is not the lack of a domestic terrorism statute. The real scandal is the free pass white supremacy has had from law enforcement for all these years.

National security expert Michael German of the Brennan Center for Justice, in a paper for Just Security, has explored in detail why new laws are not necessary to confront the problem. As he explains, the problem for federal law enforcement has not been a lack of tools to deal with domestic terrorism, but an utter lack of prioritization of the issue by high-level officials.

"While Justice Department officials have used notorious incidents of white supremacist violence to push for a new domestic terrorism statute, the Department itself continues to de-prioritize far-right violence and focus its most aggressive tactics instead against environmentalists, political protesters, and communities of color," he wrote. "It isn't hard to guess who would likely be targeted with new domestic terrorism laws."

The presence of ideologically sympathetic extremists within law enforcement also poses a security threat to any agency dealing with their criminal activities, particularly officers who keep any fascist affiliations secret and work to implement a far-right agenda from within the force.

"Police officers have access to sensitive information," explains associate Georgetown Law professor Vida Johnson. "For example, they might know if they're looking into the Proud Boys or the Three Percenters or the Oath Keepers, so they can tip them off. That's one reason why careers in law enforcement are so appealing to people who hold far-right belief systems. They get this opportunity to not only police people of color, to control their goings and comings and how they live their lives, but also they get this inside information about whether [far-right groups] are in fact being investigated."

American law enforcement has never systematically addressed the problem of extremism within its ranks, which historically speaking is not a new phenomenon at all, but has worsened dramatically in the past few decades. "It's clear that extremist groups on the right and white supremacists have been agents of chaos, of violence in our community, and the fact that police are just now interested in training on this, I find more than disturbing," Johnson told the Times.

Johnson, in a 2019 academic paper titled "KKK in the PD: White Supremacist Police and What to Do About It," found that police departments across the country exhibited evidence of white supremacist ideology, citing "scandals in over 100 different police departments, in over 40 different states, in which individual police officers have sent overtly racist emails, texts, or made racist comments via social media."

She observed to the Times it should be a cause for concern when officers become followers of such conspiracy theories as QAnon, or the claim that COVID-19 is a hoax, or theories that Trump's reelection was fraudulently stolen from him.

"People who can't separate fact from fiction probably shouldn't be the ones enforcing laws with guns," Johnson said.

Johnson has a roadmap for rooting extremists out of police departments: stricter and more diligent hiring practices, social media checks that could reveal extremist beliefs or organizational membership, periodic background checkups for all police veterans, and a review apparatus that is fully independent.

"They're supposed to be protecting and serving us," Johnson told Mother Jones. "But unfortunately it seems like a lot of departments see themselves at odds with or even at war with the rest of the community. That's a culture within policing that needs to change."

Fascist Insurgency Persists With Merging Of QAnon And Militia Movements

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The question about the QAnon cult that lingers in many people's minds is, "Where will they turn as the multiple failures of Q predictions begin to mount and their authoritarian belief in Donald Trump falls apart?" We're starting to get an answer: The vigilante militia movement and white nationalism.

Militia groups in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, are forming alliances with an array of other Trump-supporting far-right organizations, including the QAnon groups aligned with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. It reflects a much broader trend in the post-Trump world of the radical right in which what used to be distinct movements with widely differing sets of beliefs are commingling and coalescing into a singular far-right insurgency against liberal democracy.

The goal of the Georgia groups, according to Justin Thayer of the Georgia III% Martyrs, is to advocate for the state's secession from the United States. He says the final straw was the arrests of people who were involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

"The way patriots are now being hunted down and arrested by fellow men and women who have taken the same oath has disheartened any faith I had in the redemption or reformation of the USA as one entity," Thayer told the Journal-Constitution.

Thayer's group have now allied themselves with other "Three Percenter" militias, mainly the American Brotherhood of Patriots and American Patriots USA (APUSA), headed by Chester Doles, a Dahlonega man with a background in neo-Nazi hate groups. Thayer foresees a need for Georgians to leave the union because of what he calls "the collapse of the American experiment."

Doles also told the paper he had given up on democracy: "Things are different now. Everything has changed. We've seen our last Republican president in American history. The ballot box—we tried as hard as we could try. It's not working."

Amy Iandiorio, an Anti-Defamation League researcher who has been monitoring these groups' online activities, told the Journal-Constitution that a "shared victimhood narrative" around Trump's defeat at the hands of Joe Biden had fostered an environment that encouraged "tactical" alliances among normally disparate groups.

"We saw members of traditional militias, white supremacists, QAnon and other people in the same spaces and claiming very similar enemies," she said.

These are "extensions of trends that extend back well before the Capitol insurrection," Devin Burghart of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR) told Daily Kos. "The silos that used to segment the far-right have been eroding since the days of the Tea Party. The Trump years obliterated that segmentation almost entirely."

The two militia groups had earlier had a kind of falling out revolving around Greene and Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler when the Martyrs showed up at a joint campaign rally in Ringgold working as the private security detail for Greene. Doles had championed Greene's candidacy during both the primary and general campaigns with members of his group posing for photos with her, but had become an embarrassment when photos of him posing with Greene and Loeffler were publicized on social media. Loeffler subsequently disavowed Doles.

So when Doles showed up in Ringgold, Greene asked the Martyrs groupto escort Doles out of the event, setting off a round of internecine bickering. Thayer said he and Doles have repaired the relationship.

"We both have the same objective and work with other organizations," he told the Journal-Constitution. "So it was in the best interest of the movement to become ally's (sic) and work together."

Journal-Constitution reporter Chris Joyner was interviewed by Georgia Public Broadcasting. He observed that there was already a considerable overlap between people who joined vigilante militias and QAnon conspiracy theory subscribers:

QAnon is an entirely separate segment of sort of this universe of people who might have been at the Capitol. … Because it is so wide-ranging, parts of it have become ingrained in the militia movement to a degree that I found sort of surprising. 2020 was a really big year for QAnon. Part of that had to do with the pandemic, which was, you know, the conspiracy theories about the pandemic were absorbed into the sort of QAnon network of conspiracy theories. People were more inclined to stay at home. So they were online more often and they got sort of drawn into these at the time, Facebook groups that were incubators for QAnon and that did find its way into some channels of the militias as well. So there was there was crossover there between the QAnon conspiracy theory and … the Three Percenters, for instance.

Trump's ongoing refusal to concede the election—and his promotion of groundless conspiracy theories about "election fraud" at the core of that refusal—created a pressure cooker-like environment in which all those disparate parts came together. And Jan. 6 became the bursting point for all that pressure.

"Their backs were against the wall," Joyner observed. "This was a final opportunity. They felt like they were getting strong signals from the president himself as to there being some way they could change the outcome on this date if enough pressure was applied to, say, Vice President Pence or to Republicans in the Senate. I think one of the things that's sort of striking about this moment, compared to others, is these are not groups that normally talk to each other."

This was reflected in the way that the demographics of the people who entered the Capitol suggested a remarkable shift in the participants in the same far-right extremist groups that led the assault on the police barricades—the Proud Boys particularly, who have tended toward recruiting men between ages 18 and 35. The insurrectionists' average age was 40, according to a University of Chicago study, and only a handful of the people arrested so far belonged to organized far-right groups; a high percentage were employed, many were business owners, most were middle-aged, and nearly all of them were middle class.

The Capitol insurrection, as the study's authors concluded, "revealed a new force in American politics—not merely a mix of right-wing organizations, but a broader mass political movement that has violence at its core and draws strength even from places where Trump supporters are in the minority."

These trends have been coalescing all during the Trump era. "Going back as far as Charlottesville, heavily-armed Three Percenters and Oath Keepers marched alongside Proud Boy streetfighters and unabashed white nationalists," observed Burghart. "The President refused to denounce these 'fine people.'"

However, 2020 produced two extraordinary events that had the effect of driving this "multidimensional approach" straight from the margins to mainstream American politics: the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 election. Burghart says:

The pandemic mobilized a significant mass base of individuals who were radicalized in record time. Ammon Bundy and his group People's Rights demonstrated the power of armed confrontation and created a model for armed opposition to government intervention to stop the spread of COVID-19. Before the insurrection in DC, there are attacks on state capitol buildings in numerous states built on Bundy's model. Those efforts have been designed to be easily repurposed to fight against anything they dislike. Efforts like Bundy's also brought new constituencies into insurrectionism, particularly women.
The 2020 election, and the so-called "Stop the Steal" efforts to overturn the election results started to congeal the various segments of the far-right into an oppositional force against the Biden administration. The election cycle supercharged Qanon conspiracists as they reached a surprisingly large audience, while the Oath Keepers provided security at MAGA rallies and the Proud Boys got a shout-out from the President. In November, when election results showed Biden as the winner, we witnessed the coalescing of a wider range of far-right forces into mass opposition fueled by a sense of white dispossession and anti-democratic rage. That inchoate coalition included MAGA supporters, Tea Partiers, Qanon conspiracists, COVID insurrectionists, far-right paramilitaries, racist reactionaries, and unabashed white nationalists. Each of those segments provided multiple onramps onto the radicalization conveyor belt. The multiplier effect of those groups all working together turned the radicalization conveyor belt up to eleven, swiftly moving people from political opposition to insurrection.

After the Jan. 6 insurrection there has been some breakdown in intergroup relations and some internecine quarreling, mostly as a result of fallout from both the law enforcement crackdown on participants and the sudden deplatforming of far-right extremists from social media sites that followed the attack on the Capitol. This is not surprising since historically the American radical right has gone through periods of shakeup following high-profile public events involving them, such as the 1996 Oklahoma City bombing or the 2017 riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.

But as Burghart observes, these periods mostly involve reshaping of the movement to fit new conditions on the ground. "The situation inside the Proud Boys right now captures many different movement dynamics," he told Daily Kos. "There is increased law enforcement scrutiny and multiple arrests on serious charges related to the Capitol insurrection. There are chapters in Indiana and Oklahoma that split from the national organization, largely because of that scrutiny (and the revelation that the group's leader was an informant). Most importantly, however, is that there is a faction trying to pull the group in a more explicitly white nationalist direction. Despite all the internal chaos, the Proud Boys are still looking to recruit disaffected Qanon believers."

As Joyner noted: "Over the last several years, the level of crosstalk between … disparate factions of outright racist groups, white nationalist groups to … militia groups, they may not share those same beliefs, but they there's a thread that runs through it that had allowed them to talk to each other and coordinate primarily on social media in a way that we had not seen before. That sort of led us to this moment, I think."

Burghart sees three major issues likely to bond the various sectors of the radical right during this period of adjustment:

  • Look for nativism to be the glue that binds together mainstreamers and armed insurrectionists during the first years of the Biden administration.
  • Opposition to COVID-19 health restrictions, widespread distribution of the vaccine, and spending to fight the virus can become a flashpoint for the far right, as recent confrontations in Los Angeles, California, and Vancouver, Washington, have demonstrated. Expect more confrontations.
  • Attacking Black Lives Matter/antifascists has been a vital part of the far-right playbook for some time. It provides a common racialized enemy and their rationalization for street violence.

Regardless of how it all takes shape, we can expect that the insurgency the Biden-Harris administration will be facing will be relentlessly conspiracist, with those conspiracy theories providing "justification" for the various kinds of violence they will unleash: Proud Boys-style street violence with armed vigilante militias participating as well, and various acts of domestic terrorism—both so-called "lone wolf" violence by radicalized individuals as well as organized small-cell attacks of trained paramilitary groups, probably on both government and media targets.

It's going to be a very long four years, and probably much longer than that.

Did Proud Boys Know Their Leader Was Longtime Police Informant?

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

In a weird turn of events, Enrique Tarrio, a chairman for the extremist organization Proud Boys, who organized a massive event in Portland, Oregon, last year, has a past as an informer for federal and local law enforcement, Reuters reported. A federal court proceeding transcript from 2014, obtained by the news service, found that Tarrio had been working undercover for investigators since his arrest in 2012.

During the Miami hearing, a federal prosecutor, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent, and Tarrio's lawyer detailed Tarrio's undercover work and claimed he had helped authorities prosecute at least 13 people in multiple cases involving drugs, gambling, and human smuggling.

However, in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Tarrio denied working undercover and providing information on others. "I don't know any of this," he said, referring to what was shared in the transcript. "I don't recall any of this."

According to the transcript, both the prosecutor and Tarrio's defense attorney requested a reduction in Tarrio's prison statement due to his involvement as an informant. While Tarrio acknowledged the reduction in his sentence from 30 months to 16 months, he insisted it was made because he and his co-defendants cleared up questions about their own case.

In regards to a smuggling case, Jeffrey Feiler, Tarrio's attorney, said that Tarrio, "at his own risk, in an undercover role met and negotiated to pay $11,000 to members of that ring to bring in fictitious family members of his from another country. "

Oddly enough, not only do the court transcripts contradict Tarrio's denial, but so do statements from the federal prosecutor.

"He cooperated with local and federal law enforcement, to aid in the prosecution of those running other, separate criminal enterprises, ranging from running marijuana grow houses in Miami to operating pharmaceutical fraud schemes," prosecutor Vanessa Singh Johannes confirmed to Reuters.

Tarrio gained public attention after becoming the national chairman for the Proud Boys in 2018. The group began gaining further national attention after Donald Trump mentioned the hate group during a presidential debate. Instead of denouncing white supremacy as he was asked to do, Trump gave the group orders: "Proud Boys: Stand back and stand by," he said. "But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing [problem]."

As a violent Trump supporter, Tarrio organized protests and other events and encouraged a "war" after Trump lost the election last year. While he was arrested on Jan. 4, two days before the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, by Washington police, at least five Proud Boys members were charged in the riot. Tarrio was charged with possessing two high-capacity rifle magazines and burning a Black Lives Matter banner during a protest in December. It's interesting how convenient it was that he was arrested before other serious crimes took place. While there is no evidence that he has cooperated with federal authorities since his Miami hearing, the timing of his arrest makes one wonder if he was still working with the FBI.

Additionally, the documents discovered by Reuters shed light on the fact that the leader of the Proud Boys group has repeatedly said in interviews he would never let police know of Proud Boys' plans, but he may have been collaborating with criminal investigators on multiple occasions in the past.

"Well if you're in the Proud Boys, you've gotta be pretty nervous," said Kendall Coffey, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, according to NBC News. "Because if this person was working as a confidential informant, almost like an undercover agent or secret agent, you are wondering, 'What is it that he could be saying about us some day?'"

If he was, there is no doubt that Tarrio has now denied helping law enforcement out of fear of backlash.

In a statement to Reuters, Johannes noted that she was surprised to see that the defendant, who she prosecuted in the past, has been a key contributor to violent political movements. "I knew that he was a fraudster, but had no reason to know that he was also a domestic terrorist," she said.

Officials are still in the process of investigating the role extremist groups like the Proud Boys played in the insurrection of the Capitol. While Tarrio wasn't present during the incident, he did make a trip to Washington, D.C. days prior. Who knows what his plans were then. Even if he did help investigators in the past, that does not dismiss the actions he has carried out or encouraged in these last few years.

So far, at least 150 people have been charged in association with the crimes committed at the Capitol at the start of this month. Despite what charges the rioters who invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6 face, the conspiracy theories, groups, and ideology they followed still remain. Until those factors are addressed, violence of this nature will continue.