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Tag: far right violence

'I'm Not White': Latino Lawmaker Talks Fear Of Death On January 6th Attack

California Rep. Jimmy Gomez said the halls of Congress had already been hostile before the previous president incited his white insurrectionist supporters to violently storm the U.S. Capitol to try to overturn the 2020 election one year ago today.

The Oversight and Reform vice-chair told Newsweek that the House was amid a vote on the Build Back Better bill last November when he was verbally accosted in an elevator by an unmasked Republican legislator. "You people are ruining the fucking country,” he said Texas Rep. Roger Williams told him. “Gomez, who is Mexican-American, was taken aback,” Newsweek reported. Williams, meanwhile, voted to overturn democracy and against the impeachment of the disgraced former president.

“Every member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) inside the building during the attack who spoke with Newsweek thought it would be the last day of their life,” the report said leading into the one-year anniversary of the insurrection. Gomez said that even as he considered ways to look like less of a target to the insurrectionists—such as removing his Congressional pin and jacket—he could not allow himself to just run away. “So he began helping lawmakers who were older and couldn't move as quickly as he could,” the report continued.

California’s Nanette Baragán told Newsweek that she had similar intuition to hide her pin. But other things could not be so easily hidden.

"The part that is not often spoken of is the fear members of Congress of color had," she said in the report. "When you're a person of color and a member of Congress, the thought on that day was ‘hide your pin, I'm not white, I'm going to be a target.’ That was something that was really real."

It wasn’t just members of the Hispanic Caucus, either. “One year after Jan. 6, Sarah Groh, Representative Ayanna Pressley’s chief of staff, still does not know what happened to the panic buttons torn from their office,” Boston Globe’s Jazmine Ulloa tweeted earlier this week. “It’s one of many details still under investigation, and a memory that continues to haunt her.”

Ulloa writes in her piece that the U.S. Capitol is also a workplace for janitors and food service workers. Some of these workers, notably Black janitors, had to clean up the mess created by white insurrectionists.

For Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar, the insurrection brought back terrible memories of the white supremacist mass shooting that shook El Paso in 2019. In tweets immediately after the insurrection, she wrote that the terrorists “not only breached the Capitol and got into Statuary Hall, but they were banging on the locked doors of the House Chamber as we were told by Capitol Police to get down on our knees.”

In his House testimony last July, U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell recalled how he also had his life threatened by racist insurrectionists.

“I was at the front line and apparently, even through my mask, they saw my skin color and said, ‘You’re not even an American,’” the Latino U.S. military veteran told legislators. Naturalized as an American citizen more than two decades ago, Gonell said insurrectionists “called me traitor, a disgrace and that I, an Army veteran and a police officer, should be executed.”

"This wasn't a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection,” President Biden said during stirring remarks on Thursday. “They weren't looking to uphold an election. They were here to overturn one."

In a statement Thursday, Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego said that “if we want to keep our democracy intact, then we must bring to justice those responsible for Jan. 6th, including everyone from those who laid siege to the building to those who sat idle in the White House or in Congress as their plans came to fruition. He urged the passage of pro-democracy legislation including the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. “To do so is not a partisan or political issue—it is the bare minimum we must do if we want to keep our democracy.”

Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

At Idaho Event, Far Rightist Asks 'When Do We Kill These People?'

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The politics of eliminationism—in which ordinary democratic discourse is replaced by the constant drumbeat of demonization that depicts one's political opponents as inhuman objects fit only for extermination—has been growing steadily in America for well over a decade, reaching a fever pitch during Donald Trump's tenure in the White House.
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Black 'American' Flags Hoisted By Far Right Signal ‘No Quarter’ For Liberals

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Far-right extremists over the years have adopted a number of flag designs as their representative banners. First it was the yellow "Don't Tread On Me" Gadsden flag flown by the Patriot movement and tea party. The alt-right came up with its Naziesque "Kekistan" banner. In the past few years, the prominent use of flags by belligerent far-right Trump fans, particularly those in "Trump Trains" or participating in right-wing invasions of urban liberal centers, has ranged from basic Trump or MAGA banners to "Blue Lives Matter" flags to their most recent "Fuck Biden" iterations.

Now, amid far-right protests against COVID-related vaccine and mask mandates, far-right extremists are unfurling their latest symbol: An all-black American flag, with stars and stripes mainly visible through variations in material and shading. "No quarter shall be given" is the black flag's traditional message—and in the context of the building drumbeat of right-wing "civil war" talk, a deeply ominous one. People flying them are essentially signaling that they're prepared to kill their liberal neighbors.

The black flags have been showing up at various right-wing protests, such as last weekend's "Health Freedom Rally" in Spokane, Washington—really a low-turnout affair mainly comprised of anti-vaccination protesters standing on a street corner, waving flags. One of these was a black American flag. Another one turned up when the protest moved to Riverfront Park.

The same flags have been showing up on people's home flag displays as well, as Michelle Davis of Living Blue Texas observed in a post headlined, "Are Your Republican Neighbors Planning On Killing You?" Primarily, videos of people erecting these flags on the fronts of their homes are being widely shared on social media, particularly TikTok and Facebook; Davis reported finding hundreds of them.

Black flags have a particular historical meaning for Americans: They first appeared on Civil War battlegrounds, carried by some Confederate Army units, and symbolizing the intent of the soldiers to neither seek any quarter nor give any—essentially, the opposite of the white flag of surrender, signifying that enemy combatants are to be killed rather than taken prisoner. It's a vow to massacre their enemies.

Its use in the Civil War primarily appears to have been featured in some of the heinous massacres of Black Union soldiers in the war, notably at the Battle of the Crater and at Fort Pillow. Both battles are considered Confederate atrocities.

The people posting the "black flag" videos on TikTok appear primarily to use two different pieces of music as accompaniment: The first, "Raise the Colors," is a gloomy sea shanty from Pirates of the Caribbean 2; the second, the song God We Need You Now by country rapper Struggle Jennings and cowriter Caitlynne Curtis, features QAnon-derived lyrics that threaten retribution for the people who "desecrate" the "values of our country and our God":

We've been dancing with the devil way too long
I know it's fun but get ready to pay your dues
Oh God, come back home
This crazy world is filled with liars and abusers
We need you now before we're too far gone
I hope one day they finally see the truth
God, we need you now

Davis noted that the same right-wing channels where the black flag-raisings are being posted are similarly rife with "patriots" advising their cohorts to prepare for a civil war. "Who are their enemies? Pretty much any non-Conservative. You know, Democrats, Liberals, LGBTQ, BIPOC, and the vaccinated," she notes. "So, we're the enemy, and they're openly professing to want to execute us."

Their primary grievance appears currently to revolve around COVID restrictions, with a number of military members talking about their imminent discharges for refusing to be vaccinated.

"The biggest message they have been sending out is, 'it's time' or 'the time is now'," Davis notes. "They primarily use Tik Tok as a recruiting tool and let others know their willingness to commit violence. Then they tell people to message them or where to find them on Telegram."

Some of the people posting videos of black flag hangings appear to be police officers, including one from Pea Ridge, Arkansas, who takes pains to carefully fold and unfold both his ordinary American flag and his all-black version. Several "black flag" groups have already formed on Facebook, and some Twitter accounts, such as the Michigan-based "Great Lakes Black Flag Coalition" ("Our mission is to unite Liberty minded organizations, communities and individuals for the purpose of promoting and restoring Freedom") specifically reference the symbol.

American far-right extremists have fantasized about embarking on a "second civil war" for several decades now, but the idea began building in intensity during the tea party years, when militia groups like the "Three Percenters"—whose name references its members' desire to embark on a "second American Revolution"—began attracting significant numbers of participants. It began gaining real traction during Donald Trump's tenure as president, mainly through the growth of such phenomena as the "Boogaloo" movement, which is specifically focused on preparing for a civil war.

Trump himself encouraged this narrative by threatening to unleash a civil war if Congress dared to impeach him, which sparked a wave of fevered preparations among his "patriot" fans in the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Three Percenters and similar far-right groups. When it became apparent late in the 2020 campaign that he was likely headed for defeat at the polls, the civil-war discussions became intense, particularly among militia groups and white nationalists who were engaged in street-brawling protests, and "Boogaloo" activists tried leveraging street protests as opportunities for violence. Terrorism experts warned even then that fanatical Trump supporters were likely to engage in acts of mass violence.

This same, faux-patriotic worldview is what eventually inspired the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, which was the apotheosis of the GOP's two-decades-and-longer descent into right-wing authoritarianism, fueled by eliminationist hate talk, reality-bereft conspiracist sedition, anti-democratic rhetoric and politics, and the full-throated embrace under Trump of the politics of intimidation and thuggery. There was a reason the insurrectionists believed they were all partaking of a "1776 moment": they envisioned themselves as heroic patriots saving America from the commies.

If anyone believes the radicalized American right's drive to push the nation into bloody civil strife was somehow expiated or exhausted that day, they only need check the presence of black American flags the next time there is a right-wing protest in their town. Or maybe they can just check the front porches in their neighborhoods.

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.

Seeking To Overthrow Government, 'Boogaloo Bois’ Have Guns — And Criminal Records

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they're published. This story is part of an ongoing collaboration between ProPublica and FRONTLINE that includes an upcoming documentary.

Hours after the attack on the Capitol ended, a group calling itself the Last Sons of Liberty posted a brief video to Parler, the social media platform, that appeared to show members of the organization directly participating in the uprising. Footage showed someone with a shaky smartphone charging past the metal barricades surrounding the building. Other clips show rioters physically battling with baton-wielding police on the white marble steps just outside the Capitol.

Before Parler went offline — its operations halted at least temporarily when Amazon refused to continue to host the network — the Last Sons posted numerous statements indicating that group members had joined the mob that swarmed the Capitol and had no regrets about the chaos and violence that unfolded on Jan. 6. The Last Sons also did some quick math: The government had suffered only one fatality, U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, who was reportedly bludgeoned in the head with a fire extinguisher. But the rioters had lost four people, including Ashli Babbitt, the 35-year-old Air Force veteran who was shot by an officer as she tried to storm the building.

In a series of posts, the Last Sons said her death should be "avenged" and appeared to call for the murder of three more cops.

The group is part of the Boogaloo movement — a decentralized, very online successor to the ­­militia movement of the '80s and '90s —­ whose adherents are fixated on attacking law enforcement and violently toppling the U.S. government. Researchers say the movement began coalescing online in 2019 as people — mostly young men — angry with what they perceived to be increasing government repression, found each other on Facebook groups and in private chats. In movement vernacular, Boogaloo refers to an inevitable and imminent armed revolt, and members often call themselves Boogaloo Bois, boogs or goons.

In the weeks since Jan. 6, an array of extremist groups have been named as participants in the Capitol invasion. The Proud Boys. QAnon believers. White nationalists. The Oath Keepers. But the Boogaloo Bois are notable for the depth of their commitment to the overthrow of the U.S. government and the jaw-dropping criminal histories of many members.

Mike Dunn, a 20-year-old from a small town on Virginia's rural southern edge, is the commander of the Last Sons. "I really feel we're looking at the possibility — stronger than any time since, say, the 1860s — of armed insurrection," Dunn said in an interview with ProPublica and FRONTLINE a few days after the assault on the Capitol. Although Dunn didn't directly participate, he said members of his Boogaloo faction helped fire up the crowd and "may" have penetrated the building.

"It was a chance to mess with the federal government again," he said. "They weren't there for MAGA. They weren't there for Trump."

Dunn added that he's "willing to die in the streets" while battling law enforcement or security forces.

In its short existence, the Boogaloo movement has proven to be a magnet for current or former military service members who have used their combat skills and firearms expertise to advance the Boogaloo cause. Before becoming one of the faces of the movement, Dunn did a brief stint in the U.S. Marines, a career he says was cut short by a heart condition, and worked as a Virginia state prison guard.

Through interviews, extensive study of social media and a review of court records, some previously unreported, ProPublica and FRONTLINE identified more than 20 Boogaloo Bois or sympathizers who've served in the armed forces. Over the past 18 months, 13 of them have been arrested on charges ranging from the possession of illegal automatic weapons to the manufacture of explosives to murder.

Most of the individuals identified by the news organizations became involved with the movement after leaving the military. At least four are accused of committing Boogaloo-related crimes while employed by one of the military branches.

Examples of the nexus between the group and the military abound.

Last year, an FBI task force in San Francisco opened a domestic terror investigation into Aaron Horrocks, a 39-year-old former Marine Corps reservist. Horrocks spent eight years in the Reserve before leaving the Corps in 2017.

The bureau became alarmed in September 2020, when agents received a tip that Horrocks, who lives in Pleasanton, California, was "planning an imminent violent attack on government or law enforcement," according to a petition to seize the man's firearms, which was filed in state court in October. The investigation, which has not previously been reported, links Horrocks to the Boogaloo movement. He has not been charged.

A petition asking an Alameda County, California, court to bar Aaron Horrocks from owning firearms and ammunition. (Superior Court of California, County of Alameda)

Horrocks did not respond to a request for comment, though he has uploaded a video to YouTube that appears to show federal law enforcement agents, in plainclothes, searching his storage unit. "Go fuck yourselves," he tells them.

In June 2020 in Texas, police briefly detained Taylor Bechtol, a 29-year-old former Air Force staff sergeant and munitions loader with the 90th Aircraft Maintenance Unit. While in the service, Bechtol handled 1,000-pound precision-guided bombs.

The former airman was riding in a pickup truck with two other alleged Boogaloo Bois when the vehicle was stopped by Austin police, according to an intelligence report generated by the Austin Regional Intelligence Center, a multi-agency fusion center. Officers found five guns, several hundred rounds of ammunition and gas masks in the truck. The men expressed "sympathetic views toward the Boogaloo Bois" and should be treated with "extreme caution" by law enforcement, noted the report, which was obtained by ProPublica and FRONTLINE after it was leaked by hackers.

One of the men in the vehicle, Ivan Hunter, 23, has since been indicted for allegedly using an assault rifle to shoot up a police precinct in Minneapolis and helping to set the building ablaze. No trial date has been set for Hunter, who has pleaded not guilty.

Bechtol, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing in connection with the traffic stop, did not respond to a request for comment.

Linda Card, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, which deals with the service's most complex and serious criminal matters, said Bechtol left the service in December 2018 and was never investigated while in the Air Force.

In perhaps the highest-profile incident involving the group, several Boogaloo Bois were arrested in October in connection with the widely reported plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. One of those men was Joseph Morrison, a Marine Corps reservist who was serving in the 4th Marine Logistics Group at the time of his arrest and arraignment. Morrison, who is facing terrorism charges, went by the name Boogaloo Bunyan on social media. He also kept a sticker of the Boogaloo flag — it features a Hawaiian floral pattern and an igloo — on the rear window of his pickup truck. Two other men charged in the plot had spent time in the military.

The Marine Corps is working to root out extremists from its ranks, a spokesman said.

"Association or participation with hate or extremist groups of any kind is directly contradictory to the core values of honor, courage and commitment that we stand for as Marines and isn't tolerated," Capt. Joseph Butterfield said.

No reliable numbers exist about how many current or former military members are part of the movement.

However, military officials at the Pentagon told ProPublica and FRONTLINE that they have been concerned by a surge in extremist activity. "We are seeing an increase in concerning behavior," said one official, stressing that military leaders are "very actively" responding to tips and are thoroughly investigating service members linked to anti-government groups.

Experts worry about people with military training joining extremist groups.

Boogaloo Bois with military experience are likely to share their expertise with members who've never served in the armed forces, building a more effective, more lethal movement. "These are folks who can bring discipline to a movement. These are folks that can bring skills to a movement," said Jason Blazakis, director of the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

Though some Boogaloo groups have made spectacular blunders — among them, sharing information with undercover FBI agents and using unencrypted messaging services to communicate — the movement's familiarity with weapons and basic infantry techniques clearly poses serious challenges for law enforcement.

"We have the upper hand," Dunn said. "A lot of the guys have knowledge that your normal civilians do not have. Police officers are not used to combating that kind of knowledge."

"It Wasn't Talk"

The marriage of extremist ideology and military skill was apparent in an alleged plot last year to attack police officers at a racial justice protest.

On a hot spring evening last May, an FBI SWAT team swarmed on three alleged Boogaloo Bois as they met in the parking lot of a 24 Hour Fitness club on the east side of Las Vegas. Agents found a small arsenal in the trio's vehicles: a shotgun, a handgun, two rifles, plenty of ammunition, body armor and materials that could be used to make Molotov cocktails — glass bottles, gasoline and rags torn into small pieces.

All three men had military experience. One had served in the Air Force. Another the Navy. The third, 24-year-old Andrew Lynam, was in the U.S. Army Reserve at the time of the arrests. During his teenage years Lynam attended the New Mexico Military Institute, a public academy that prepares high school and junior college students for careers in the armed forces.

In court, federal prosecutor Nicholas Dickinson portrayed Lynam as the leader of the group, a Nevada-based Boogaloo cell called Battle Born Igloo. "The defendant associated with the Boogaloo movement; i.e., he referred to himself as a Boogaloo Boi," the prosecutor told the court during a June detention hearing, according to a transcript. Lynam, continued Dickinson, "corresponded with other Boogaloo groups, especially in California, Denver and Arizona. Essentially, the defendant was radicalized to the point where he wanted to act out, it wasn't talk."

According to the prosecutor, the men intended to join a protest over the death of George Floyd and hurl firebombs at police, and they had made plans to bomb an electric power substation and a federal building, actions they hoped would spark a wider anti-government uprising.

"They wanted to damage or destroy some sort of government building or infrastructure to get the response of law enforcement and, hopefully, the overreaction of the federal government," Dickinson told the court.

The prosecutor said he found it particularly "troubling" that Lynam was serving in the military while at the same time plotting to attack government infrastructure.

During the June hearing, defense lawyer Sylvia Irvin pushed back, criticizing the "clear weaknesses" in the government's case, challenging the credibility of an FBI informant and suggesting Lynam was really a minor player in the group.

Lynam, who has pleaded not guilty, is now represented by attorney Thomas Pitaro, who did not respond to requests for comment. Lynam and his co-defendants, Stephen Parshall and William Loomis, are also facing a parallel slate of charges brought by local prosecutors in state court. Parshall and Loomis have pleaded not guilty.

A spokesman for the Army Reserve said Lynam, a medical specialist who joined in 2016, currently holds the rank of private first class in the service. He has never deployed to a combat zone. "Extremist ideologies and activities directly oppose our values and beliefs, and those who subscribe to extremism have no place in our ranks," said Lt. Col. Simon Flake, noting that Lynam is facing disciplinary action by the Army when his criminal cases conclude.

"An Insider Threat"

The body of criminal law that governs the armed forces, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, doesn't include an explicit prohibition on joining extremist groups.

But participation in criminal gangs, white supremacist organizations and anti-government militias is barred by a 2009 Pentagon directive that covers all military branches. Service members who violate that ban can face court-martial for disobeying a lawful order or regulation, or for other offenses related to their extremist activity, such as making false statements to superiors. Military prosecutors can also use a catchall provision of the military code called Article 134 — or the general article — to charge service members who've engaged in conduct that brings "discredit" to the armed forces or harms the "good order and discipline" of the military, said Geoffrey Corn, a retired Army officer who served as a military attorney and who now teaches national security law at South Texas College of Law Houston.

Pointing to the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, who enlisted in the Army and served in the first Gulf War, Corn said it's no secret that the military has been a "breeding ground" for extremism to some extent for decades. McVeigh's devastating 1995 attack on that city's Alfred P. Murrah federal building killed 168 people, many of them children.

Military officials have acknowledged an uptick in extremist activity and domestic terrorism cases in recent years.

Addressing a congressional committee last year, Joe Ethridge, intelligence chief for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, said his staff had opened seven investigations into allegations of extremist activity in 2019, up from an average of 2.4 per year during the previous half decade. "During the same time period, the Federal Bureau of Investigation notified CID of an increase in domestic terrorism investigations with soldiers or former soldiers as suspects," he told members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Ethridge also noted that most soldiers who are flagged for extremist behavior face administrative sanctions — including counseling or retraining — rather than criminal prosecution.

In the aftermath of the Capitol attack and a flurry of news reports documenting the involvement of service members in the chaos, the Department of Defense announced a comprehensive review of its policies on extremist and white supremacist activity to be conducted by the Pentagon's inspector general.

"We in the Department of Defense are doing everything we can to eliminate extremism" within the military, Garry Reid, a director for defense intelligence at the Pentagon, told ProPublica and FRONTLINE. "All military personnel, including members of the National Guard, have undergone a background investigation, are subject to continuous evaluation and are enrolled in an insider threat program."

The "Kill House"

The military is clearly worried about Boogaloo Bois training up civilians. Last year, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the law enforcement agency that investigates felony-level crimes involving sailors and members of the Marine Corps, circulated an intelligence bulletin.

Called a threat awareness message, the bulletin detailed the arrests of Lynam and the other men in Las Vegas and noted that Boogaloo followers have engaged in discussions about "recruiting military or former military members for their perceived knowledge of combat training."

NCIS concluded the bulletin with a warning: The agency couldn't ignore the possibility that individuals involved with the Boogaloo movement were serving throughout the military. "NCIS continues to emphasize the importance of reporting suspected boogaloo activity through the chain of command."

The subject came up during a court hearing in Michigan involving Paul Bellar, one of the men arrested on state charges in connection with the plot to kidnap Whitmer. "It's my understanding Mr. Bellar used his military training to teach combat procedures to members of this terrorist group," said Magistrate Frederick Bishop, explaining his reluctance to lower Bellar's bail during the October hearing. Bellar, who has since been released from jail on bond, has pleaded not guilty.

In another instance, an ex-Marine gathered at least six men at a wooded property in McLoud, Oklahoma, a small town outside of Oklahoma City, and taught them how to storm a building. In a video posted to YouTubelast year, the former Marine, Christopher Ledbetter, shows the group how to enter a house and kill any enemy combatants inside. Filmed with a GoPro camera, the video concludes with Ledbetter, who served in the Marine Corps from 2011 to 2015, blasting a wooden target with a barrage of bullets from a fully automatic AK-47-type carbine.

Ledbetter called his training facility the " kill house," according to court records.

A series of Facebook Messenger conversations obtained by the FBI show that Ledbetter, 30, identified with the Boogaloo movement and was preparing for the coming armed insurrection, which he thought would be a "blast." In an interview, Ledbetter told agents that he had been manufacturing hand grenades and admitted that he had modified his AK-47 so that it would fire automatically.

A transcript of Facebook messages between Christopher Ledbetter and a Facebook user. Ledbetter said, "Can't keep the goons" — a nickname for Boogaloo members — "from finding each other." (United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma)

Ledbetter pleaded guilty in December to illegal possession of a machine gun. He is currently serving a 57-month sentence in federal custody.

On an hourlong podcast posted in May 2020, two Boogaloo Bois discussed, in detail, how to do battle with the government.

One of the men, who dispenses combat advice online using the handle Guerrilla Instructor, said he had enlisted in the Army but had eventually grown disenchanted and left the service. The other man, who called himself Jake, said he was currently serving as a military police officer in the Army National Guard.

Traditional infantry tactics wouldn't be particularly useful during the coming civil war, opined Guerrilla Instructor, arguing that sabotage and assassination would be more helpful for the anti-government insurgents. It was simple, he said: A Boogaloo Boi could just walk up to a government figure or law enforcement officer on the street and "shoot them in the face" before fleeing.

But there was another assassination technique that held special appeal for Guerrilla Instructor. "I believe honestly that drive-bys will be our greatest tool," he said, sketching out a scenario in which three Boogs would hop in an SUV, spray a target with gunfire, "kill some dudes" and speed off.

"That's some real gangster shit right there," enthused Jake.


About three weeks after the podcast was uploaded to Apple and other podcast distributors, a security camera tracked a white Ford van as it moved through the darkened streets of downtown Oakland, California. It was 9:43 p.m.

Inside the vehicle, prosecutors say, were Boogaloo Bois Steven Carrillo, who was armed with an automatic short-barreled rifle, and Robert Justus, Jr., who was driving. As the van rolled along Jefferson Street, Carrillo allegedly flung open the sliding door and unleashed a burst of gunfire, hitting two federal protective services officers posted outside the Ronald V. Dellums federal building and courthouse. The barrage killed David Patrick Underwood, 53, and wounded Sombat Mifkovic, whose age has not been released.

At this point, there's no evidence Carrillo — a 32-year-old Air Force staff sergeant stationed at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California — ever heard the podcast or communicated with the men who recorded it. But, obviously, his alleged crime closely resembles the assassination strategies discussed on the show, which is still available online. He is facing murder and attempted murder charges in federal court, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

According to the FBI, Carrillo used an exotic and highly illegal weapon to carry out the shooting: an automatic rifle with an extremely short barrel and a silencer. The weapon, which fires 9 mm ammunition, is a so-called ghost gun — it lacks any serial numbers, making it difficult to trace.

Built from machined aluminum, heavy-duty polymers or even 3D printed plastic, ghost guns have been embraced by Boogaloo movement members, many of whom take an absolutist position on the Second Amendment, arguing that the government lacks any authority to restrict gun ownership.

Last year police in New York state arrested an Army drone operator and alleged Boogaloo Boi on charges that he owned an illegal ghost gun. Noah Latham, a private based at Fort Drum, did a tour of Iraq as a drone operator, according to an Army spokesperson. Latham was discharged from the service after he was arrested by police in Troy in June 2020.

The shootings at the courthouse in Oakland were only the first chapter in Carrillo's alleged rampage. In the days after, he headed about 80 miles south, to a tiny town nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains. There he allegedly got into a gun battle with Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputies and state police, a shootout that killed deputy Damon Gutzwiller, 38, and injured two other law enforcement officers. According to prosecutors, who have charged Carrillo with premeditated murder and a host of other felonies in state court, Carrillo also hurled homemade bombs at the cops and deputies and carjacked a Toyota Camry in a bid to escape.

Before ditching the car, Carrillo apparently used his own blood — he was hit in the hip during the skirmish — to write the word "Boog" on the hood of the car.

Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, has monitored the links between the military and extremist groups for years, tracking each policy tweak, every criminal case. In her view, Carrillo's grisly narrative is a product of the military's refusal to adequately address the issue of radicalization within the ranks. She said, "The failure to deal with this problem on the part of the armed forces" has "unleashed people who are highly trained in how to kill" on the public.

Zoe Todd, FRONTLINE, contributed reporting.

FBI Uncovers Evidence Of National Coordination In Attack On Capitol

As the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continues its probe into the U.S. Capitol riots, more evidence suggests the assault on the federal building was a coordinated plot.

According to The Washington Post, FBI agents across the United States working to navigate through the disturbing events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol are being tasked with determining the true intent of those who traveled to Washington, D.C.

While the "Save America" rally and siege on the Capitol have been widely referred to as protests and riots, the bureau is now making it very clear how the Jan. 6 chaos is, in fact, distinctly different from other acts of civil unrest.

While a typical political rally is defined as a First Amendment rights-protected gathering of "like-minded people," investigators argue that it differs greatly from "organizing an armed assault on the seat of American government." In determining which rallygoers fall into one of the two specific categories, investigators have uncovered evidence that points to more coordinated plans of assault on the U.S. Capitol.

With many believing that President Joe Biden would be a peril for the United States, Trump supporters made detailed plans weeks in advance to prepare for their siege on the Capitol. One example is the investigation into Jessica Marie Watkins, the Ohio woman who formed her own far-right militia for the insurrection.

According to prosecutors' court documents, Watkins began planning shortly after the presidential election suggesting the possibility of America being over with Biden being in office.

"If he is, our way of life as we know it is over. Our Republic would be over. Then it is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights. . . . If Biden gets the steal, none of us have a chance in my mind. We already have our neck in the noose. They just haven't kicked the chair yet."

The publication also reports that law enforcement officials have also speculated about the reason for the pipe bombs which "may have been a deliberate distraction meant to siphon law-enforcement away from the Capitol building at the crucial moment."

Another example focuses on the Proud Boys and leaders of other right-wing organizations. Based on footage from the insurrection, along with court filings, investigators have managed to uncover how many different factions were organized as opposed to simply convening outside of the Capitol.

Video and court filings, for instance, describe how several groups of men that include alleged members of the Proud Boys appear to engage in concerted action, converging on the West Front of the Capitol just before 1 p.m., near the Peace Monument at First Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Different factions of the crowd appear to coalesce, move forward and chant under the direction of different leaders before charging at startled police staffing a pedestrian gate, all in the matter of a few minutes.

As of Saturday, Jan. 30, the Department of Justice has arrested and charged more than 170 individuals in connection with the Capitol riots.

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.

House Democrat Will Introduce Bill To Expel QAnon Rep. Greene

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A Democratic lawmaker on Wednesday night announced he will introduce a bill to expel Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) from Congress, saying Greene's calls for violence against Democratic lawmakers as well as her support for offensive and baseless conspiracy theories about mass shootings make her a danger to the country and warrant her immediate removal.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) cited CNN's uncovering of Facebook posts Greene wrote and liked in 2018 and 2019 that called for the execution of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, as the reason he is introducing the expulsion resolution.

But he also cited Greene's support for conspiracy theories that said mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 were a hoax meant to build support for gun control — comments that drew outrage and demands for her expulsion from the parents of the victims and survivors of those shootings.

"As if it weren't enough to amplify conspiracy theories that the September 11 attacks were an inside job and the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was staged, a string of recent media reports has now confirmed that Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene had previously supported social media posts calling for political violence against the Speaker of the House, members of Congress, and former President Barack Obama," Gomez said in a news release announcing his expulsion resolution.

"Such advocacy for extremism and sedition not only demands her immediate expulsion from Congress, but it also merits strong and clear condemnation from all of her Republican colleagues, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell," the statement said.

Greene has been a problem for McCarthy since she began her bid for a safe Republican House seat in 2020.

Back in November, after Greene officially won her race, McCarthy told the country to give Greene an "opportunity" to serve before condemning her, even though her racist, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic comments were already well known.

So was her support for the dangerous QAnon conspiracy theory, which falsely said Donald Trump was going to take down a secret "cabal" of Hollywood actors and Democratic lawmakers for running a child sex-trafficking ring. The theory has no basis in fact, yet Trump let it fester by refusing to say it was false. Ultimately, many QAnon followers took part in the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which saw five people die.

But Greene has caused even more problems since her arrival in Washington, D.C.

She's put her fellow members of Congress in danger by refusing to wear masks. And she helped incite the insurrection by pushing the baseless lie that Trump won the election, which helped radicalize the insurrectionists.

A McCarthy aide said he was going to have a "conversation" with Greene after her calls for violence against Democratic lawmakers became public. But it's unclear what that "conversation" would lead to.

Expulsion from Congress requires two-thirds majority of the House. That would require a number of Greene's Republican colleagues to vote to expel her.

For now, Greene is a test of how big Republicans' appetite is for supporting an extremist within their ranks.

"Her very presence in office represents a direct threat against the elected officials and staff who serve our government, and it is with their safety in mind, as well as the security of institutions and public servants across our country, that I call on my House colleagues to support my resolution to immediately remove Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from this legislative body," Gomez said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.