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@DavidNeiwert

When Matt Gaetz Met Up With White Nationalists At CPAC

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Trumpist Republican politicians like Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz appear to be mimicking their role model's ability to send comforting signals out to white nationalists while managing to keep them at arm's length for the sake of plausible deniability. He showed how it's done this past weekend at the Conservative Political Action Committee's annual convention in Orlando.

A cluster of young white nationalists attending the simultaneous America First Political Action Committee convention—organized by notorious "Groyper Army" leader Nicholas Fuentes—invaded the CPAC gathering, where Fuentes has been banned, on Saturday. They managed to find Gaetz, who took photos with one of the group's leaders—an outspoken neo-Nazi who uses the nom de plume "Speckzo"—and briefly conversed with them, apparently acknowledging his familiarity with Fuentes.

The video of the interaction shows one of the Groypers asking Gaetz if he was familiar with Fuentes. Gaetz made an indistinct reply while walking away with an aide, pointing a raised index finger in the direction of the young men.

Gaetz has a history of such dalliances with far-right extremists. In 2018, he invited notorious white nationalist Chuck Johnson to the State of the Union address, giving Johnson one of his tickets to the event. Gaetz claimed disingenuously that Johnson had just happened to drop by his office the day before to discuss their mutual political interests—which Johnson claimed were marijuana, bitcoin, Trump, and animal welfare—and a spare ticket had become available.

In 2019, Gaetz hired a white nationalist named Darren Beattie to work in his office as a speechwriter. Beattie had been previously fired from the Trump administration after his connections to white-nationalist organizations was exposed. Beattie later was appointed by Trump to an international commission that oversees preservation of Holocaust-related historical sites, much to the dismay of the Anti-Defamation League. Gaetz later ran into trouble with House ethics rules for using taxpayer funds for Beattie's salary.

Fuentes himself had attempted to enter the CPAC convention hall last Saturday with a group of fellow "Groypers," but was turned away by organizers and security. "CPAC sucks. It's gay," Fuentes told the people who had gathered to watch the confrontation. "We made our point. Masks don't work. CPAC is gay. They're not conservative."

As Twitter user Sarlacc Attack posted afterward, a number of the Groypers posted photos and videos from their excursion on Telegram. One of the most prolific of these is the man who uses the "Speckzo" pseudonym, who posted photos of himself with both Gaetz and Fuentes.

"Speckzo," whose identity is currently unknown but who has boasted on social media that he lives in New York and makes $100,000 annually from his online video rants, is noteworthy for openly embracing Nazism, denying the Holocaust, and expressing sympathy for Adolf Hitler. He also has said he considers electoral democracy a failure, blaming women's suffrage and allowing poor people to vote, adding that he considers monarchy the best political system. In one of his online rants, he also defended the enslavement of Black people, claiming they were better off under the system of slavery.

"Speckzo" also managed to get a selfie portrait with Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, who addressed the America First crowd on Saturday, a day after sharing a panel at CPAC.

Fuentes' "Groyper Army" has been intimately involved in the extremist right's efforts to keep Trump in the presidency. Fuentes—who vowed to "destroy the GOP" if it failed to defend Trump adequately—spoke at both pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" rallies in Washington, D.C., on November 14 and on December 12, accompanied by his followers, and was present on January 6 at the pro-Trump rally preceding the attack on the U.S. Capitol. A member of the "Groyper Army," 22-year-old Riley Williams of Pennsylvania, faces multiple charges for her role in the January 6 insurrection, and is believed to have stolen a laptop computer from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.

Gaetz no doubt will claim he had no idea who he was posing with on Saturday and brush off the association. But the problematic aspect of the selfies he took is less who he associates with, but instead the kind of people who seek out his approval.

New Report Details Terror Threat From ‘Plethora’ Of Right-Wing Extremists

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The arrests and indictments in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol are now up to 257 and counting. And as they continue to mount and the evidence in these cases becomes public, we're starting to get a clearer picture of what happened that day—both the larger picture of who participated in the assault, as well the more detailed story of how they conspired to make their invasion plans work.

George Washington University's Program on Extremism compiled data from all 257 cases and assembled a detailed analysis of the event based largely on information from the court filings. The details contained therein are telling and important, but its broader conclusion—namely, that the universe of domestic right-wing extremists who came together on January 6 has grown massive, is constantly expanding, and now poses a greater threat to American society than overseas jihadists—may be the most significant takeaway.

"Over the last few years, in fact, we have witnessed a remarkable growth of what is commonly referred to as domestic extremism," the study reports. "The term is used in American law enforcement and policy circles to distinguish it from foreign extremism, a category that refers largely to individuals inspired by or linked to jihadist groups. But it is a term that encompasses an extremely broad and ever-expanding plethora of groups and ideologies, including armed militias and committed conspiracy theorists, neo-Nazis and isolated anti-government militants with few common denominators beyond hate and propensity for violence.

"This universe has existed in America for decades, has grown more diverse, vocal, and violent in recent years, and has seized on current events such as the pandemic, rising community and law enforcement tensions following the death of George Floyd, and the presidential election to pose an even greater threat to American society."

The study found that the people charged so far are a diverse group dominated by men — 221 of them, accompanied by 36 women. More than 90 percent arrived in Washington from outside the area, representing a total of 40 states and 180 counties around the U.S. The counties with the largest numbers of cases included Los Angeles County in California, Franklin County in Ohio, and Bucks County in Pennsylvania.

About 33 people had a military background, and of those, 36 percent had ties to militant extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. Moreover, the federal prosecutions so far have zeroed in on each of these two organizations as the major militant networks that planned the insurrection ahead of time, and took concrete steps to make it happen.

Leaders of established domestic violent extremist groups issued orders or directives to members of their groups, encouraging them to travel to Washington in advance of the siege. Individual group members answered the call, contacting one another to coordinate logistics, methods, and plans of action in the weeks before January 6. Unlike individuals in the other categories, not only did these militant networks plan to attend protests on that date, but they are also alleged to have planned in advance to breach the Capitol and, in many cases, perpetrate violence inside the walls of the building.

The single case that best illustrates this part of the dynamic is Ethan Nordean's. Federal prosecutors' case against the Seattle-area Proud Boys leader was laid out in even greater detail this week in court filings, which portrayed him as playing a central commanding role in the Proud Boys' successful assault on the police perimeter keeping the crowd out of the Capitol that day.

"Following the arrest of the Proud Boys' Chairman on January 4, 2021, Defendant was nominated from within to have 'war powers' and to take ultimate leadership of the Proud Boys' activities on January 6, 2021," a Monday court filing arguing to keep Nordean imprisoned read.

"Defendant—dressed all in black, wearing a tactical vest—led the Proud Boys through the use of encrypted communications and military style equipment, and he led them with the specific plans to: split up into groups, attempt to break into the Capitol building from as many different points as possible, and prevent the Joint Session of Congress from Certifying the Electoral College results," prosecutors added.

A key component of the Proud Boys' planning involved distributing Chinese-made Baofeng multifrequency radios to key members to remain in touch during the attack on the Capitol. The men intentionally forsook attendance at Donald Trump's speech at the Ellipse railing against the election so that they could get in position to overtake the Capitol, the filing said, by marching around the building and taking up positions at an entrance that was lightly manned by police.

The Proud Boys left a money trail in order to obtain equipment for their plans that prosecutors cited in detail. This included direct messages on social media that Nordean exchanged with someone who wanted to donate a tactical vest, and public, crowdsourced efforts to obtain equipment. Prosecutors said Nordean also exchanged private messages with people regarding the effective use of "military-style communications equipment," and he received pledges of equipment, including bear mace and steel plates, from two people. On Jan. 2 and 3, Nordean also communicated with someone seeking to contribute $1,000 to the Proud Boys' "travel fund," the filing says.

Prosecutors also noted the Proud Boys' plan not to wear identifying uniforms or colors: "By blending in and spreading out, Defendant [Nordean] and those following him on January 6 made it more likely that either a Proud Boy—or a suitably-inspired 'normie'—would be able to storm the Capitol and its ground in such a way that would interrupt the Certification of the Electoral College vote. Defendant understood full well that the men he was leading as he charged past law enforcement and onto the Capitol grounds were likely to destroy government property, or attempt to do so."

Nordean and his close cohorts face grave conspiracy charges that could bring them long prison terms, prosecutors say, because of the central role they played: "Defendant's position with the Proud Boys is that of giving instructions, not receiving them."

Federal judge Timothy Kelly, overseeing the case involving Dominic Pezzola, one of Nordean's chief cohorts that day, said the men's actions were egregious enough to warrant pretrial detention.

"It was an almost unique attack on the crown jewel of our country, the peaceful transfer of power," Kelly said. "When you put it that way, and I think it's very fair to put it that way, it's almost a unique assault on America, on American history."

The GWU report notes that the accused insurrectionists face as many as 17 counts on their indictments, with charges ranging from trespassing and illegal entry, to conspiracy against the U.S. government and assault of law enforcement officers.

It also observed the central role played by social media in the charging evidence. The report found that 15% of extremists publicly indicated their intent prior to storming the Capitol; some 68% of them documented their crimes in real time.

The report's authors also recommended a series of concrete steps in response to the attack:

  • It urged Congress to establish a nonpartisan Domestic Extremism Commission to identify any systemic national security and policy failures.
  • The intelligence community should learn more about the response leading up to the Jan. 6 attack, it recommended, with the goal of finding effective measures to prevent the violence.
  • Finally, the authors urge the administration to use existing structures to improve information sharing between the federal agencies tasked with combating violent extremism.

Capitol Rioter Who Allegedly Stole Pelosi Laptop Is Neo-Nazi Activist

Earlier this week, as part of his campaign to gaslight the public about the Capitol insurrection, Tucker Carlson tried to claim on his Fox News program that "there's no evidence white supremacists were responsible for what happened on January 6. That's a lie." Of course, the claim was immediately debunked, but that hasn't prevented Republicans from continuing to lie and mislead the public into believing up is down about the event and its meaning, and for online trolls to continue repeating Carlson's claim.

Multiple examples abound to prove Carlson a baldfaced liar, but the most striking was revealed this week: An investigation by Bellingcat's Robert Evans found that Riley Williams, the 22-year-old woman from Pennsylvania who faces multiple charges in the Capitol siege and is suspected of having stolen Nancy Pelosi's laptop, is the same person who posed in neo-Nazi gear in an online video and made Nazi salutes, all while posting on social media as a white nationalist "Groyper" and participating in a popular neo-Nazi Telegram channel.

The criminal complaint against Williams charges her with obstructing an official proceeding, violent entry on Capitol grounds, and other counts related to her entry into the Capitol and Pelosi's offices on January 6. Investigators stated her ex-boyfriend showed them videos taken from Williams' livestream that day appearing to show her examining an HP laptop and taking it, but say they are still investigating the matter. They noted the witness told them Williams intended to sell the laptop to a Russian agent, but the deal had fallen through. The laptop has not been located.

Williams' attorney has adamantly denied she stole the computer, and has complained she has been vilified, and the accusations against her are "overstated."

The Bellingcat report, however, made clear Williams was not just a Trump fan who got "carried away," as her mother tried to tell an interviewer. In the process of identifying her as the woman with her face concealed in the Nazi-salute video, it followed a long trail of evidence of her avid participation in far-right "accelerationist" online spaces, including on Parler and Telegram.

Williams also was a fan of white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes, the youthful leader of "America First" and the so-called "Groyper Army" who was present in the crowd outside the Capitol on January 6. Fuentes had helped lead a "Stop the Steal" protest in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, and Williams had taken a fan shot with him that day, posting it on Twitter: "Thank you Nick!!" she wrote, adding a laughing emoji. "King of America!"

As Evans explains, Williams was particularly active on the Telegram channel of a Texas neo-Nazi named Christopher Pohlhaus, who specializes in accelerationist rhetoric under the nom de plume "The Hammer." Much of the gear she wore in the Nazi salute video appears to have come from his online store, including the "skull mask" and a ball cap adorned with a Nazi occultist "Sonnenrad" symbol.

Pohlhaus specializes in recruiting young people to the fascist cause. Nazi stickers he sells were used in late 2020 to vandalize the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise, Idaho.

Of course, Williams is far from the only white supremacist to have been involved in the insurrection. Alt-right troll Tim "Baked Alaska" Gionet, arrested in January for his role in the siege, helped lead Williams and others in vandalizing Pelosi's office. The ADL found that among the 212 people charged as of February 17, ten of them were white nationalist "Groypers," and another 17 were members of the proto-fascist Proud Boys organization.

Numerous far-right organizations, including an array of white nationalists, were involved in the planning of the insurrection. There were dozens of white supremacist banners and symbols being waved by the crowd that day, including a Confederate flag that was paraded around inside the Capitol, as well as various alt-right flags and other white nationalist symbols. One man, Robert Packer, was seen in a "Camp Auschwitz" T-shirt, a reference to the wartime Nazi death camps.

"White supremacists and rebranded alt-right rioters were assuredly there, but there was also a wide variety of other insurrectionists present who share a set of unifying grievances with hardened bigots, who do not necessarily buy into full-blown white supremacy," Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, told the Poynter Institute.

Republicans Conceal Fascist Terror Threat -- By Blaming BLM And Antifa

Republicans rolled out their narrative response to Democrats who were intent to see a law enforcement crackdown on the far-right extremist elements who assaulted the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 during Wednesday's hearing of a House Judiciary subcommittee on "The Rise of Domestic Terrorism in America." It resembled a team version of the "let's throw shit at the wall and see what sticks" strategy, but beneath it all was a thread: Blame everything on Black Lives Matter and left-wing antifascists.

The presence of right-wing pseudo-journalist Andy Ngo—whose entire body of work has portrayed left-wing and anarchist political protests as terrorism—as the Republicans' only witness was emblematic of the approach. Florida Congressman Greg Steube encapsulated the narrative by showing a video of anti-police brutality protests from the summer and then demanding that the Democratic witnesses label it terrorism.

Ngo's testimony was indistinguishable from one of his talks promoting his "wildly dishonest" book, in which he depicts "antifa" as an existential threat to America. He repeatedly described last summer's 120 day-long string of protests against police brutality in Portland—none of which he actually attended, but instead relied on others' reports for his coverage—as "riots," and insisted that this was terrorism and fundamentally no different than the Jan. 6 insurrection in nature:

For more than 120 recurring days, Antifa carried out nightly riots targeting federal, county, and private property. They developed a riot apparatus that included streams of funding for accommodation, travel, riot gear and weapons. This resulted in murder, hundreds of arson attacks, mass injuries, and mass property destruction. To put that into context for those here today, similar actions that occurred at the Capitol Hill riot on January 6, 2021, were repeated every night months on end in the Pacific Northwest.

This remained his thesis when questioned by Republican committee members, notably Congressman Andy Biggs of Arizona, one of the key planners of the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" event that became the insurrection. Biggs asked him: "If we don't talk about antifa, is antifa going away?"

Ngo, true to his running thesis, replied that antifa wasn't going away, and actually it's dedicated to the destruction of American democracy and willing to use terrorism to achieve that. He then described multiple instances of the summer protest violence as fitting the legal description of terrorism.

In reality, domestic terrorism is an entirely different phenomenon from protest violence, which has never been included in any terrorism database. Protest violence is usually—as it was last summer—an outcome of interactions between protesters exercising their free speech and police forces using aggressive tactics against them; this summer's protests were acutely so because the police themselves were the primary object of the protests, particularly in Portland.

Terrorism, in contrast, comprises preplanned acts of violence directed at political targets with the intention of striking fear into the larger populace. Both protest violence and terrorism are political in nature, but their core nature is fundamentally very different, particularly when it comes to intent.

Steube, a former Judge Advocate General officer who represents the Sarasota area, either didn't grasp this distinction or was intent on obliterating the committee's ability to do so. After setting out a self-servingly incomplete definition of domestic terrorism, he played a video showing scenes from the summer protests—focusing at one point on a bonfire set by protesters in Portland that in fact was not any kind of arson—and then proceeded to harangue the Democrats' witnesses, which included national security expert Michael German of the Brennan Center for Justice, MSNBC intelligence expert Malcolm Nance, and Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Steube demanded of each of them: "Do you believe that what you saw on that video meets the definition of domestic terrorism?" He also insisted on a yes or no reply.

Nance was blunt: "No, it's civil disobedience. We have codes for that."

Steube pounced on this, pointing to his exculpatory conclusion: "So that's civil disobedience, burning down—creating $80 billion worth of damage across our country, but what occurred here on January 6 was domestic terrorism."

Steube, of course, ignored that the motive for whatever violence occurred this summer was anger at police brutality and a demand for change in American policing, while the motive for the Jan. 6 insurrection was to overturn the outcome the 2020 presidential election by stopping American democratic processes from occurring. In defining terrorism, motivation and intent are the determinative factors. (Also worth noting: Steube outrageously inflated the costs of the summer's civil disturbances, which are estimated in the $1-2 billion range.)




Texas congressman Louie Gohmert—who in fact advocated insurrection and mass protest to overturn the election during a Nov. 14 "Stop the Steal" rally—was now adamant that the people who invaded the Capitol were criminals and should face consequences, but then he tried flinging a different turd at the wall: The whole incursion inside the Capitol was actually the fault of a single antifa/Black Lives Matter activist named John H. Sullivan—a theory that was referenced by other Republicans at the hearing as well.

There's just one problem with this claim: It's been thoroughly debunked. Sullivan, as The Washington Post reported in detail, is a man who initially attempted to organize BLM protests in Utah outside of the existing African American protest community. In short order, a person was shot during one of his events and then Proud Boys began showing up to support his protests. Among BLM activists, he was widely regarded as a duplicitous "double agent." His last organized protest of the summer was a pro-gun rights rally featuring large numbers of far-right militiamen, including Oath Keepers.

The constant comparisons of BLM activists and antifascists to white nationalist terrorists wore down the patience of everyone else involved in the hearing. After all, a 2020 domestic terrorism database found that between 2017 and 2019, right-wing extremists committed a total of 49 acts of terror that resulted in 145 deaths. Antifascists, in contrast, were responsible for exactly one case of domestic terrorism, and the only death that resulted from that case was the perpetrator's. Black Lives Matter activists were connected to zero cases of domestic terrorism.

As Tennessee congressman Steve Cohen noted: "It's like comparing a forest fire to someone with a match."

The most pointed retort came from Missouri congressman Cori Bush, who was appalled by the constant comparisons of white supremacists to BLM protesters. She ripped into her Republican colleagues at the hearing.

"Equating a righteous movement for justice with hateful and racist white nationalism is outright ignorant and disingenuous on your part," she said. "But for white supremacy, in which you benefit, we would not be in the streets demanding to be heard."

Domestic Terrorism Dominated By Right-Wing Extremists In 2020

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

We've known for some time that Donald Trump's presidency unleashed a tide of right-wing domestic terrorism that was especially notable for its increasingly lethal effects in its first three years. Now, thanks to a government intelligence report, we know that the final year of his tenure featured a continuation of this trend, though with a different emphasis.

The report, from the Joint Regional Intelligence Center and distributed to law enforcement officials around the nation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), says that right-wing extremists were responsible for the majority of fatal domestic terrorist attacks in 2020. Even though anti-government violence and civil unrest was the product of "non-affiliated, left-wing and right-wing actors," the report found, "right-wing [domestic violent extremists] were responsible for the majority of fatal attacks in the Homeland in 2020."

As Jana Winter at Yahoo News observes, the report marks a shift from the Trump administration's long-running record of downplaying the threat of far-right terrorism. A whistleblower's complaint in 2020 revealed that Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, DHS' second-highest-ranking official, issued orders to modify intelligence assessments so as to make the white supremacist threat "appear less severe." He also wanted the assessments to include information on "left-wing" groups and antifa.

The JRIC's analysis was based partially on data provided by U.S. Crisis Monitor, an organization with a full set of data on political violence that includes reporting on various protests around the nation.

Much of the most lethal domestic terrorism during the Trump years was the work of "lone wolf" extremists who committed mass killings on behalf of various far-right causes. That situation shifted noticeably in 2020 due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced opportunities and targets for such terrorism—and also created new opportunities amid protests over public health restrictions and police brutality, the latter of which were left-wing protests that attracted far-right terrorists intent on amplifying the protest violence.

The most stark example of this was "Boogaloo Boi" Steven Carrillo's shooting of two federal officers at the scene of an Oakland anti-police protest in June. Less than a week later, Carrillo also shot and killed a sheriff's deputy attempting to arrest him.

Since the report only included data on fatal incidents, it did not include any of the many cases of far-right domestic terrorism in 2020 that involved preemptive arrests of would-be terrorists. This includes the arrests in early 2020 of members of neo-Nazi terrorism squads The Base and Atomwaffen Division (members of these organizations were also arrested during the year for similar activities) as well as the arrests in Michigan of 14 militiamen who planned both an attack on the state Capitol in Lansing featuring televised executions of state officials, and to kidnap and kill Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

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."

Facing Felony Charges, Capitol Insurgents Angrily Turn On Trump

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

It's become self-evident that the members of the mob that raged up the National Mall and into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 believed they were doing so with the blessing of their president, Donald Trump, after he directed them there in his speech that morning at the Ellipse. They really believed Trump's lie that they were saving America from a stolen election — leaving many of them angry and baffled when their fellow MAGA fanatics claim that the insurrection was actually the work of "antifa" leftists.

And now that they are facing real legal consequences for their actions, many of them know who to blame for their misfortune: Trump. Their ex-leader threw them under the bus, and they are eager to return the favor.

Take William "Billy" Chrestman of Olathe, Kansas. A bearded Proud Boy who was mistaken for founder Gavin McInnes when video of the insurrection first appeared on social media, he now faces multiple federal charges related to his behavior that day, including conspiracy, civil disorder, and obstruction of an official proceeding. His attorneys are claiming that Trump invited him and his fellow Proud Boys to engage in the violence.

"It is an astounding thing to imagine storming the United States Capitol with sticks and flags and bear spray, arrayed against armed and highly trained law enforcement," Chrestman's attorneys said in a court filing this week. "Only someone who thought that they had an official endorsement would even attempt such a thing. And a Proud Boy who had been paying attention would very much believe he did."

Chrestman's attorneys claimed in their filing that the rioters were "actively misled" by Trump: "Trump told the assembled rabble what they must do; they followed his instructions. Then, he ratified their actions, cementing his symbiotic relationship with the rioters."

He's hardly alone in that stratagem. A Texas real estate agent who flew to Washington by private jet to attend Trump's rally said she was there because of Trump, and invaded the Capitol on his behalf. "He asked us to fly there. He asked us to be there. So I was doing what he asked us to do," she said.

"I think we all deserve a pardon," she said. "I'm facing a prison sentence. I think I do not deserve that and from what I understand, every person is going to be arrested that was there, so I think everyone deserves a pardon, so I would ask the President of the United States to give me a pardon."

She regretted having gone at all: "I bought into a lie, and the lie is the lie, and it's embarrassing," Ryan told The Washington Post. "I regret everything."

A number of other arrestees are making the same claim, mostly for strategic legal reasons. Even though it is unlikely to be enough to establish their innocence, legal experts say, it could be a mitigating factor when it comes to sentencing, especially for those with no prior criminal records.

"Trump didn't get in the car and drive him to D.C., but it's important to understand the context," attorney Clint Broden, who represents Texas defendant Garret Miller, told USA Today.

"You have to understand the cult mentality," said Broden, whose client is charged with entering the Capitol and threatening Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, saying she should be assassinated. "They prey on vulnerable victims and give them a sense of purpose. In this case, Trump convinced his cult followers that they were working to preserve democracy."

Pittsburgh resident Kenneth Grayson had announced his intentions even before the rally on Facebook: "I'm there for the greatest celebration of all time after Pence leads the Senate flip!!" he wrote. "OR IM THERE IF TRUMP TELLS US TO STORM THE (expletive) CAPITAL IMA DO THAT THEN!"

Grayson's attorney, Stanley Greenfield, said his client did not intend violence, and was only responding to Trump's pleas. "He was going because he was asked to be there by the president," Greenfield said. "He walked in with the crowd. But he went there, yes, with the invitation of the president. He just wanted to be a part of it."

One of the insurrection's most recognizable figures, "QAnon Shaman" Jacob Chansley of Arizona, also blames Trump. He even said he would have been happy to testify against Trump in his February impeachment trial.

Chansley's attorney, Al Watkins, told reporters: "Let's roll the tape. Let's roll the months of lies, and misrepresentations and horrific innuendo and hyperbolic speech by our president designed to inflame, enrage, motivate. What's really curious is the reality that our president, as a matter of public record, invited these individuals, as president, to walk down to the Capitol with him."

Watkins said Trump's refusal to issue pardons to the insurrectionists served as a wake-up call for his client.

"He regrets very, very much having not just been duped by the president, but by being in a position where he allowed that duping to put him in a position to make decisions he should not have made," said Watkins.

A 20-year-old Maryland man, Emanuel Jackson, similarly blamed Trump, even though bodycam footage showed him hitting police officers with a baseball bat. "The nature and circumstances of this offense must be viewed through the lens of an event inspired by the President of the United States," Jackson's attorney, Brandi Harden, wrote in court filings.

A profile of the people charged so far in the insurrection compiled by the Anti-Defamation League found that one-quarter of them have connections to right-wing extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.

Of the 212 individuals identified by COE, 52 (or 25 percent) have ties to known right-wing extremist groups, including Oath Keepers (six people), Proud Boys (17), Groypers and other white supremacists (10) and the QAnon conspiracy theory (14). A number of Proud Boys members and Oath Keepers have been charged with conspiracy in connection with the January 6 insurrection. A conspiracy charge means the government believes these individuals agreed to engage in criminal activity that day.
The remaining 75 percent are considered part of the new pro-Trump extremist movement, a decentralized but enthusiastic faction made up of self-described "patriots" who continue to pledge their fidelity to the former President.

The movement's true believers who participated in the January 6 Capitol siege and are now facing federal charges are similarly perplexed and outraged by the large numbers of fellow MAGA "patriots" who are now claiming that the insurrection actually was the work of violent "antifa" leftists. This fraudulent claim — promulgated not just by conspiracy theorists and fringe partisans, but by elected Republican officials, including members of Congress — has spread so widely that one poll found that a full half of all Republicans believe it.

This infuriates the people who participated and now face charges, because they all are ardent Trump supporters who believed then that they were participating in a nation-saving act of patriotism — and many still believe it now. They can't fathom how quickly their fellow "patriots" have thrown them under the bus and are now depicting them as actually acting on behalf of their hated enemies.

"Don't you dare try to tell me that people are blaming this on antifa and [Black Lives Matter]," wrote insurgent Jonathan Mellis on Facebook days after the event., prior to being charged with multiple crimes. "We proudly take responsibility for storming the Castle. Antifa and BLM or [sic] too pussy … We are fighting for election integrity. They heard us."

"It was not Antifa at the Capitol," wrote "Stop the Steal" organizer Brandon Straka, who has ties to Trump. "It was freedom loving Patriots who were DESPERATE to fight for the final hope of our Republic because literally nobody cares about them. Everyone else can denounce them. I will not."

Disturbing Details Emerge About Backgrounds Of Capitol Rioters —Including Ex-FBI Employee

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The arrests from the Jan. 6 insurrection continue to pile up—the most recent count had reached 212 people charged for their roles in the siege of the Capitol. And as the indictments and arresting affidavits have piled up, the public is getting a better idea of just what kind of people were so radicalized by far-right disinformation they were eager to participate in an attack on democracy itself.

The data already shows that the demographic profile of arrestees is mainly one of older, upper-middle-class whites: business owners, white-collar workers, doctors, and lawyers. More disturbingly, military veterans and law enforcement officers, many of them currently active and some with security clearances, are being arrested. One arrested Virginia man connected to the Oath Keepers reportedly had served in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

That man — 64-year-old Thomas E. Caldwell of Berryville, Virginia — was arrested Jan. 19 and charged with conspiracy and multiple other counts related to the insurrection. As The Washington Post's Katie Shepherd reports, Caldwell's attorneys filed a rejoinder this week noting that Caldwell was a decorated Navy veteran with a top secret security clearance, and after leaving the armed forces in 2009 he had served as a section chief for the FBI.

Caldwell is only one of a number of the insurrectionists who have military and police connections; six Seattle police officers are currently under investigation for having been present in Washington, D.C. that day, as are a number of others from jurisdictions around the nation. In the meantime, the Pentagon has ordered a military-wide pause across all services as commanding officers try to assess the levels of far-right extremism within their own ranks, spurred by the high numbers of military veterans engaged in the Capitol takeover.

"The presence of law enforcement officers in the riot reinforces and substantiates the greatest fears many in the public had in the nature of law enforcement in the United States," Michael German, a former FBI special agent and fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice's Liberty and National Security Program, told Shepherd.

Other participants in the Capitol siege have been in the news this week:

  • Ethan Nordean, the violent bodybuilder from Auburn, Washington, who helped spearhead the coordinated effort by the Proud Boys to break down police barricades and enable the invasion of the Capitol, was ordered to be flown to Washington, D.C., this week after a judge briefly ordered Nordean's release pending trial. U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida issued an order approving Nordean's pretrial release after a morning hearing on Monday; by late afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell — chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where Nordean faces charges—granted federal prosecutors' appeal seeking to stay the order and instead transport Nordean to Washington immediately.
  • Jason Riddle, a man from Keene, New Hampshire, who had boasted on social media about stealing a bottle of wine and a book from a Senate office, was charged with multiple counts related to his behavior at the insurrection. Prosecutors said that federal authorities became aware of Riddle's involvement after Riddle gave an interview to a Boston TV station admitting to entering the Capitol because he "just had to see it" and having no regrets about having done it, leading multiple people to contact the FBI. Riddle, a former mail carrier and former corrections officer, told FBI agents that he had merely followed the crowd of rioters into the building, where he then took an open bottle of wine and drank from it as he strolled about the Capitol, along with a reddish-brown leather book from an office titled Senate Procedure. He also told agents he sold the book outside the building to an unknown man who purchased it for $40.
  • Jenny Spencer, a woman from Pilot Mountain, North Carolina, appears to be offering a similar kind of defense for her behavior— claiming that she had just wandered inside with the crowd and then tried to leave quickly. She claims that she and her husband Christopher found themselves forced inside by the crowd in order to avoid being trampled—and then, once inside, realized "we gotta get outta here." They told investigators they were only inside the Capitol for less than 15 minutes; however, the FBI noted that Christopher Spencer streamed live videos for more than 20 minutes on Facebook showing the couple, along with others, chanting and yelling at police officers, and that the couple did not "actively appear to be searching for exits during the videos."
  • Greg Rubenacker, a Long Island man who works as a DJ, filmed himself smoking marijuana from a vaporizer inside the Capitol and also posted it on Snapchat—and was arrested Tuesday by the FBI after one of his followers forwarded incriminating screen shots to them. "Holy s--t! This is history! We took the Capitol!" he said on one of the videos he posted online. Then he filmed himself smoking from a vaping device, blowing out smoke into the Rotunda, then looking into the camera and saying: "America, baby. What a time."
  • William Merry Jr. of St. Louis County, Missouri, who was photographed holding a broken piece of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's nameplate with his 21-year-old niece, was also hit with multiple charges for his role in the insurrection. His niece had been arrested in mid-January. Merry's attorney claimed: "He believes he had a right to attend a rally and voice his political beliefs like we all do, but he does not in any way shape or form condone any type of violence or property destruction or any type of insurrection of the government."
  • Brian McCreary, 33, a Domino's Pizza deliveryman from North Adams, Massachusetts, was arrested after returning to work and boasting to his coworkers that he had "raided" the Capitol. McCreary can be seen in photo leaning against a wall and shooting video with his phone inside the Senate chambers. He is not accused of participating in the violence, but told investigators he was present when Ashli Babbit, a rioter from Texas, was fatally shot by Capitol Police, and that he had reentered the building after being ordered by security to leave.
  • Karl Dresch, a Michigan man from the Upper Peninsula who was arrested in January by the FBI, is the son of a now-deceased Republican legislator. He faces a potential 20-year sentence on a felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding, along with a bundle of misdemeanor charges related to his participation in the Capitol siege. Dresch is the son of former state Republican lawmaker Stephen Dresch of Hancock.
  • Bruno Cua, an 18-year-old from Milton, Georgia, is one of the youngest of the arrestees. Cua made it all the way to the floor of the Senate while wielding a baton with which he had menaced Capitol police officers, allegedly getting into a physical altercation with them. Cua was a heavy user of social media including Parler, TikTok, and Instagram, where he had used the handle "PatriotBruno," but after the insurrection he deleted most of his posts.

Archived messages from Parler show that Cua had referred to Trump frequently, calling his compatriots to participate on Jan. 6.

"President Trump is calling us to FIGHT!" one post read. "It's time to take our freedom back the old fashioned way."

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.

Openly Fascist ‘Patriot Front’ Marches Down Washington Mall

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Like most literal fascists, the guys who run Patriot Front never miss a trick. Which is why they turned up in Washington, D.C., on Friday, staking a claim as the first far-right group to return to the city and march down the Capitol Mall since the January 6 insurrection.

ProPublica journalist Lydia DePillis observed them Friday morning marching in formation, about 100 strong, masked and wielding their organization's banners—styled after the American flag, but featuring a fasces (an ax with a bundle of sticks, the traditional symbol of fascism) where the stars normally are—and then marching from the Jefferson Memorial up the mall to the Capitol. They apparently dispersed afterward.

In DePillis's videos, the group can be seen marching mostly quietly, in loosely disciplined fashion, toward the Mall. The men all wear the same uniform—beige slacks, black jackets, white ballcaps, and white facial-wrap masks—and mostly carry the Patriot Front banner. A couple of larger group banners adorned with slogans such as "For the Life of Our Nation" and "Strong Families Make Strong Nations" also appeared. A police escort joined them after they marched past the Washington Monument and followed them up the Mall.

As they approached the Capitol, they broke their silence and began chanting: "Reclaim America!" while setting off red and blue smoke bombs.

Washington's Metro Police Department issued a statement: "MPD was made aware previously that demonstrations were to take place in the District today and provided the notification of potential traffic closures as a response," said a D.C. police spokesperson in a statement. "At this time, there have been no arrests made in connection with the ongoing demonstrations. Also, the Metropolitan Police Department does not act in the capacity of private security for any group."

Patriot Front had attracted attention when it organized a march through Washington last February, similarly chanting "Reclaim America!"

Formed out of the ashes of the neo-Nazi online forum Iron March after the Charlottesville riot of August 2017, Patriot Front is mainly the brainchild of a young Texas white supremacist named Thomas Rousseau—who in fact had marched at Charlottesville alongside James Fields before the latter man drove a car at high speed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a woman named Heather Heyer and maiming dozens of others.

It's also explicitly fascist, beyond even the fasces in the banner. Some of the discussions among the white supremacists who founded the group revolved around explicitly embracing fascism, and one of its early slogans that adorned its stickers was "Fascism: The Next Step for America."

The organization is best known for plastering stickers with its slogans—also directing people to the "bloodandsoil" website. Southern Poverty Law Center analyst Cassie Miller told BuzzFeed that "Patriot Front is among the most prolific spreaders of "white power" propaganda in the United States, having put up flyers in over 1,000 places around the country in 2020 alone."

It has also been preparing for advancing its agenda in a post-Trump political world. One of those methods has been to organize high-profile marches in places certain to attract both news coverage and the ire of urban liberals.

"[Rousseau] wants to really focus on spectacle, and he thinks that a performative show of strength is the most effective kind of propaganda that they can engage in," Miller said.

Are They 'Patriots'? Behind Trump's Scheme For A Far-Right Third Party

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Donald Trump, the Wall Street Journal reports, is mulling the idea of forming a third party in his own political image, and calling it the "Patriot Party." The report cites White House insiders who said the departing ex-president "discussed the matter with several aides and other people close to him last week."

"Patriot," however, is not just any old name. It's a self-descriptive name that has long been used by the conspiracist Bircherite radical right, for decades a cauldron of extremist behavior ranging from Oklahoma City to the Bundy standoffs to the January 6 Capitol insurrection, spawning such movements as militias and sovereign citizens and inspiring numerous acts of violence. It's an unmistakable dogwhistle to the American extremist right.

Trump seemed to reference his plans for a new party—not an original idea on his part, the notion of a third party with that name having been a topic of discussion in far-right chatrooms at Telegram, Parler, and elsewhere since the election—in his remarks during his closing days in the Oval Office. In his Tuesday farewell speech, Trump told his followers that "the movement we started is only just beginning. There's never been anything like it."

On Wednesday, departing finally from Andrews Air Force Base, he vowed: "We will be back in some form."

As the WSJ's Andrew Restuccia observes, "It's unclear how serious Mr. Trump is about starting a new party, which would require a significant investment of time and resources. The president has a large base of supporters, some of whom were not deeply involved in Republican politics prior to Mr. Trump's 2016 campaign."

What has become unmistakable, however, is that Trump now identifies clearly with the Patriot movement—the far-right political movement that has been spreading its toxic influence on the American landscape since the 1990s. In suggesting "Patriots" as the name of a new right-wing political party, he is less hijacking the name than embracing it.

Trump has called his followers "patriots" for a very long time—and because the word still carries a generic meaning, journalists and other observers have failed to note the significance of his repeated and increasing use of it. What's noteworthy is that, in the past year especially, he often applies it to a specific bandwidth of his supporters—namely, those engaging in acts of intimidation and thuggery against leftists and liberals.

When a "Trump caravan"—with the usual Trump, Gadsden "Don't Tread On Me," "Blue Lives Matter," and ordinary American flags streaming from their pickups—drove through downtown Portland, Oregon, last August, amid images of his Proud Boys supporters firing paint and pellet guns at protesters, he tweeted out a video of the caravan on the move, hailing its participants as "GREAT PATRIOTS!" (A Trump supporter involved in the melees was shot later that night by an antifascist.)

It was also the term the Capitol insurrectionists called themselves. One of the attendees at the Trump rally that preceded the riot—a 55-year-old man from Chicago—told a reporter: "We're not moving on. … We are not Republicans. We are the MAGA party. We are patriots."

Trump's inner circle is fond of using the word as well. Donald Trump Jr. greeted the January 6 rally crowd with: "Hello, Patriots!"

After the same crowd then stormed the Capitol, his sister Ivanka then tweeted out an appeal for calm: "American Patriots—any security breach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately. Please be peaceful." (She deleted the tweet later that day.)

And the people who invaded the Capitol used the word to identify themselves. "Patriots!" a number of insurrectionists were recorded shouting as they rushed to enter through broken police barricades. Inside, the "QAnon shaman" Jake Angeli—garbed in furs and a horned hat—could be heard hailing his comrades: "Hold the line, patriots!"

In a New Yorker video taken inside, Angeli can be seen greeting other rioters inside the Senate chambers: "Heyyyy, glad to see you man. Look at you guys, you guys are fuckin' Patriots!" Leading a prayer from the dais later, he thanked God for "filling this chamber with Patriots who love you and love Christ."

Trump supporters elsewhere who celebrated the insurrection applied the label as well. A "Stop the Steal" protest organizer in Illinois told a local TV station: "Well, now the patriots are waking up and we're taking our country back. As you've seen in D.C., they've stormed the Capitol and they are making their voices be heard. So, that's what we'll continue to fight for."

This is not by any means a recent phenomenon. Trump supporters have been regularly identifying themselves to journalists and others as "Patriots" for several years now. A classic example is a California-based MAGA fanatic—a man previously arrested on terroristic-threatening charges—who traveled to Arizona for a "Trumpstock" event, and told a New York Times reporter: "They label us white nationalists, or white supremacists. … There's no such thing as a white supremacist, just like there's no such thing as a unicorn. We're patriots."

The use of the name originated with right-wing extremists in the mid-1980s who called themselves "Christian Patriots," and were unabashedly racist—many of its participants could be found at annual "Aryan Congresses" assembled by the "Christian Identity" Aryan Nations near Hayden Lake, Idaho. This movement was studied in depth by sociologist James Aho in his 1990 book, The Politics of Righteousness: Idaho Christian Patriotism (University of Washington Press). Derived in many regards from the openly racist and anti-Semitic "Posse Comitatus" belief system, Christian Patriots also claimed that ordinary people could declare themselves "sovereign citizens" to free themselves from rule by the federal government (including paying taxes), and that the county sheriff was the supreme law of the land, able to countermand federal law if he deemed it unconstitutional. Civil-rights laws, public land ownership, a federal education department—these were all considered null and void in their world of radical anti-federalism.

Following the tragic outcomes of the armed federal standoffs at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, and at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, in 1993, an idea that had been circulating in far-right circles for several—a strategy called "leaderless resistance" that called for forming small action-directed "cells," along with violent acts of "lone wolf" domestic terrorism—became the consensus response among Christian Patriots. They called them "militias"—a reference intended to invoke the wording of the Second Amendment as a way to justify their existence.

Moreover, to broaden the appeal of the militias to include more secular-minded recruits, the movement dropped "Christian" and began calling itself simply the "Patriot movement." The name stuck permanently.

At the time he blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, Timothy McVeigh self-identified as a "Patriot," as did Eric Rudolph, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics backpack bomber. The Montana Freemen—purveyors of "sovereign citizen" pseudo-legal scams and major figures in the movement—engaged in an 81-day armed standoff with FBI agents in 1996 near Jordan, Montana.

Despite the connection to public violence, however, the Patriot movement—as I explained in my 1999 book In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest—played the strategic role as part of a campaign for ideas and agendas from the radical right to become more mainstream. The general idea was to strip their overt bigotry (especially the innate anti-Semitism and racism) from their radical localist and nativist politics and to present them wrapped in American-flag bunting and lofty-sounding "constitutionalist" rhetoric that disguised its utterly nonsensical nature with heavy doses of jingoist jargon.

Throughout the 1990s, the Patriots continually organized their vigilante paramilitaries as militia groups, and preached the "constitutionalist" approach to government to anyone who would listen, along with their never-ending web of "New World Order" conspiracy theories, peddling maps of "FEMA concentration camps" and sightings of "UN black helicopters." The conspiracism reached a kind of fever pitch in 1999 over the supposed looming "Y2K Apocalypse," but after that proved to be an utter non-event, it then receded into a low-level hiatus during most of the early 2000s, with conspiracists mostly devoted to the massive speculation industry that sprang out of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Among the leaders of that industry was radio host Alex Jones, a onetime John Birch Society member who began his career in Texas regurgitating conspiracy theories originally concocted by the Militia of Montana and packaging them for mass consumption. Shortly after the embarrassment of having hysterically hyped the Y2K Apocalypse, Jones seized on the 9/11 attacks as a fresh, and wildly promotable, avenue for drawing listeners into his web of fantasies. Over the years, Jones increasingly identified on-air with "the Patriots" in their "war against the globalists."

Around 2008 and the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, the Patriot movement suddenly came roaring back to life. While the numbers of militia groups had declined to a mere 131 groups in 2007, they revived sharply over the next two years, with 512. By 2012, they had reached a record high 1,360 militia groups. However, relatively few of the movement's leaders from the 1990s remain active to this day, many of them having subsequently died.

The Anti-Defamation League defines the Patriot movement thus:

A collective term used to describe a set of related extremist movements and groups in the United States whose ideologies center on anti-government conspiracy theories. The most important segments of the "Patriot" movement include the militia movement, the sovereign citizen movement and the tax protest movement. Though each submovement has its own beliefs and concerns, they share a conviction that part or all of the government has been infiltrated and subverted by a malignant conspiracy and is no longer legitimate. Though there is some overlap between the "Patriot" movement and the white supremacist movement, that overlap has shrunk over time; there are, in fact, people of color within the "Patriot" movement, particularly within the sovereign citizen movement.

As the Rural Organizing Project (ROP) explains, however, the presence of people of color—as well as its occasional rhetorical embrace of civil-rights ideals—is more of a conscious "we can't be racist" façade for a movement that, at its core, is built on a foundation of white supremacist beliefs.

The origins of the Patriot movement tactics and approaches are tied up in organized racist currents. As mentioned, many of their beliefs were developed as a coherent political package by the racist Posse Comitatus. In the 1980s, one commentator described the Patriot movement as "half" racist. By the 1990s militia movement, perhaps less than a quarter of members were connected to explicitly White separatist groups; Christian Identity members still held prominent positions.

By the 2008 movement revival, connections to organized racism were hard to find in the leadership. CSPOA's Richard Mack and Gun Owners of America's Larry Pratt both have public histories of working with white separatists, but both are also 1990s holdovers.

Open racist expressions are more commonly found among local activists, however. For example, Malheur occupier Ryan Payne has said that slavery never really existed. In response to a post on a Facebook saying, "I've yet to met a white supremacist" (assumedly in Oregon Patriot movement circles), Oregon Oath Keeper Sally Telford replied, "I am a proud white/caucasian and I support and stand with all other white/Caucasians," and elaborated that, "I stand with free white people." Many Patriot movement activists are part of the "White Culture and Heritage" Facebook group, the content of which is a continuous stream of white supremacist propaganda.

Moreover, as the ROP notes, it's common for Patriot movement adherents to deny the existence of structural or interpersonal racism. They typically define it narrowly as hatred of individuals purely for their race, a "conscious, vocalized action." The Oath Keepers, for instance, instructed readers at their now-defunct website: "Realize there is no such thing as white privilege or male privilege: In reality, there is only institutionalized 'privilege' for victim-status groups. There is no privilege for whites, males, white males or straight white males."

Even more acutely, the Patriot movement has long been antagonistic to a number of nonwhite ethnic groups:

  • Latino immigrants. One of its major subgroups that kept the Patriot movement alive in the early 2000s was the "Minutemen" vigilante border-watch movement of 2005-10, which organized public rallies that denigrated Hispanics and encouraged violence against them. The Minutemen eventually dissolved under the weight of the manifestations of violent criminal elements within their ranks.
  • Native Americans. Patriot movement conspiracists—many of them operating in states with Indian reservations and, consequently conflicts between tribes and nontribal residents and fishermen over land and water rights—have been highly active in organizing campaigns to attack tribal treaty rights and even decertify certain tribes, built primarily around "New World Order" conspiracy theories.
  • Muslim refugees. A number of more recent Patriot groups have been highly active in promoting Islamophobic campaigns against Muslims generally and refugees in particular. In 2015-16, "Three Percenter" militia groups organized multiple protests in Idaho against the presence of a refugee-relocation program based in the city of Twin Falls, claiming it was part of a nefarious global campaign to eventually replace the white population there.
  • Black Lives Matter. Most Patriot groups are unapologetic in their disdain and hatred for the Black Lives Matter movement. The Oath Keepers in particular have prominently attacked BLM as innately violent Marxists and a threat to the nation, as have "Three Percenter" militia groups and the Northwest-based Patriot Prayer street-brawling group. When Proud Boys marched violently through the streets of Washington, D.C., on December 14, their primary targets became African American churches adorned with Black Lives Matter banners and signs, which they tore down and burned.

Groups in the 1990s regularly adopted "Patriot" as part of their name, just as many right-wing militia and conspiracy-fueled groups include "Patriot" in their organizational titles to this day. Most of these are explicitly pro-Trump operations. Two Trump-loving Arizona groups, the Arizona Patriots and Patriot Movement AZ, have been highly active in protests against the election results the past two months. During the 2018 midterm election campaign, after pro-Trump forces repeatedly ran ads quoting his hysterical references to an "invasion" on the southern border, another group—the United Constitutional Patriots—set up camp at the New Mexico/Mexico border and tried arresting migrants, eventually resulting in prison time for the militiamen.

The revival of the Patriot movement during the Obama years primarily revolved around the Tea Party movement. By mid-2010, it had become clear that the Tea Party—first promoted by mainstream media as a kind of normalized right-wing populist revolt against liberal Democratic rule in the Obama era—had swiftly transformed into a massive conduit for conspiracy theories, ideas, and agendas directly from the Patriot movement. Attending a Tea Party gathering after that year, particularly in places like rural Montana, was indistinguishable from the scene one could have found 15 years before at a militia gathering: the same speakers, the same books, the same rhetoric, the same plenitude of paramilitary and survivalist gear for sale.

By 2010, Patriot groups like the Oath Keepers had become the primary face of the Tea Party. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes boasted of his prominent role in the movement to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly: "We like the Tea Party movement a lot, we think it's great. It's a revitalization of our core Americanism and core constitutionalism."

The ultimate emblem of this ideological takeover by the Patriots was the ascendance of the Gadsden flag as the Tea Party's most prominent symbol. The flag had originally been revived in the 1990s by the Patriot movement and was commonly on prominent display at their gatherings, as well as available through the Militia of Montana mail-order catalog.

It remained a standard symbol for Patriots well afterward, and was prominently used by Minutemen groups while organizing vigilante patrols on both the Mexican and Canadian U.S. borders. When a group of far-right conspiracists gathered to discuss the supposed globalist conspiracy to destroy Western civilization at the core of their worldviews, a Gadsden flag was hung above the club where they met.

But soon after the Tea arty began organizing rallies in the spring and summer of 2009, Gadsden flags began appearing prominently. Soon the banner became the best-known symbol of that movement—reflective of the flood of Patriot movement ideologues who seized control of the tea party agenda.

The yellow Gadsden flag and its coiled rattlesnake also made prominent appearances during the two Bundy standoffs in the West, first in Nevada in 2014, and then in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016. Two of the participants in the Nevada standoff, Jerad and Amanda Miller, went on a murder spree two months afterward in Las Vegas; after shooting two police officers to death in a pizza parlor, they covered their bodies with a Gadsden flag.

Emblematic of its core of conspiracist fearmongering, the Patriot movement (and the Tea Party) also was the sector of the public that most avidly embraced the utterly groundless conspiracy theories about Obama's supposedly "fake" or "incomplete" birth certificate, known as the "Birther" theories. That's where Donald Trump first entered the picture.

Trump built the foundations of his political career in 2011 by promoting the Birther theories avidly, creating such a broad media sensation that eventually Obama conceded and ordered Hawaii officials to publicly produce the "long form" certificate in an attempt to satisfy the conspiracists. Of course, it signally failed to do so; encouraged by Trump's public ambivalence over whether he accepted the evidence as legitimate, the conspiracists in no time produced a fresh new round of theories claiming that the new certificate was actually fake.

Around the same time, Trump claimed the mantle of leader for the Tea Party, telling a Fox interviewer: "I think the people of the Tea Party like me, because I represent a lot of the ingredients of the Tea Party. What I represent very much, I think, represents the Tea Party."

Trump enjoyed substantial support for his 2016 election from an array of radical-right organizations, notably a solid phalanx comprised of the Patriot movement. His ascension to the presidency was widely hailed by various Patriots (not to mention Jones, who had hosted Trump on his Infowars program).

In short order, the movement's conspiracy theorists were spinning up wild claims about Marxists and "antifa" plotting to overthrow his presidency, even before he was inaugurated—and then, ten months later, they revived the same claims, but this time the conspiracy theories were picked up by Fox News and other right-wing media and broadly disseminated. The narrative that resulted—depicting a "violent left" that needed to be violently confronted by "patriots"—became intensely repeated throughout the 2020 election campaign, ardently adopted by such pro-Trump groups as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

Throughout his tenure, Trump made regular references to "patriots" in his speeches, such as his September 2019 speech to the United Nations at which he declared: "The future belongs to patriots." In 2020 he issued a proclamation designating September 11 as "Patriot Day."

Indeed, Trump established a record of describing people who support him and his agenda as "patriots." He used the word to describe people who backed his attempt at shutting down the government in 2019, and for farmers who had been devastated by his trade war with China. He has also described members of his administration as "great patriots," as well as Republican candidates he has endorsed.

Trump's campaign emails have also regularly used the word, encouraging donations by describing recipients as patriots, particularly for supporters who attended his rallies and purchased his MAGA merchandise. Notably, in the past year, these emails regularly capitalize "Patriot" to describe would-be donors.

The first such email appears to have been a fundraising appeal in September 2017 ("I know there's no stopping our movement with the support of patriots like you," it read). The references continued through 2018 and 2019 in some 800 emails, and then became intense in the past year. In 2020 alone, the campaign sent out nearly 2,000 emails containing the word "patriot."

It's a neat rhetorical trick for Trump, playing on neutral observers' propensity to interpret the use of the word generically, while acting as a direct dogwhistle to his followers who identify with the Patriot movement. Even more Machiavellian is the effect its use has on non-extremist supporters by encouraging them to identify indirectly with a far-right movement.

These manipulations all came home to roost on Jan. 6, when the primary elements leading the insurrection at the Capitol included a number of Patriots. Among these were Three Percenter militiamen and Oath Keepers, whose authoritarian devotion to Trump became so intense this year that it has declared a "civil war" against "antifa and BLM." Rhodes spoke at the December 14 pro-Trump rally and urged him to invoke the Insurrection Act and declare martial law.

Now, the FBI has arrested three Oath Keepers for their roles in the insurrection, and more arrests may be coming. Several others charged in the Capitol invasion also have connections to the group.

"The insurrectionists' use of the term 'patriot' is striking," Woden Teachout, author of Capture the Flag: A Political History of Patriotism, told the Deseret News. "It's also powerful to see how flags are being used as literal weapons against officers at the Capitol. Neither of these is new in American history. Other groups—like anti-immigrant nativists in the 1940s and pro-Nixon forces in the Vietnam era—have used them similarly. In each case this language and the symbols are invoked to draw an ideological circle that brings some in and forces others out.

"To define certain people as patriots is to say that other people are not," she added.

Sam Jackson, an expert on the Oath Keepers, said that many people who self-identify as patriots today see themselves as modern versions of the Founding Fathers. In their version of reality, their enemies are not British redcoats but rather the federal government, the political left or, "more generally, those who don't support Trump," all perceived as a threat to "the Republic" and their version of the Constitution.

Indeed, for most of the three decades that the Patriot movement has been active, it has been primarily described by experts and monitors as a "antigovernment movement." However, given its ardent support for the government run by Trump—and its long record of antipathy directed almost solely at liberals and Democrats—as well as its revealing refrain that America is "a republic, not a democracy," it has become apparent (particularly in the past year) that it is probably far more accurate to describe it as a fundamentally antidemocratic movement.

But while the Patriots conceive of themselves as representing a kind of real patriotism rather than the seditionist travesty that their movement has manifested itself as in action, the public may not have been fooled, at least not on January 6. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released two days after the Capitol takeover found only 5% of Americans believed the rioters to be patriots. Nine percent described them as "concerned citizens" while 79% percent said they considered participants in the uprising "criminals" or "fools."

So while Trump prepares to split the Republican Party by creating a party designed primarily to accommodate his far-right supporters and their increasingly radicalized fellow followers, mainstream political observers are not necessarily being gulled by his dogwhistles. And if he makes clear he intends to act on the scheme, he may well give the U.S. Senate the incentive it needs to convict him of the House impeachment charges approved last week and strip him of the ability to ever again plague the nation by holding public office.

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‘Million Militia March' And State Protests Fizzle As FBI Rolls Up Rioters

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

All of the various right-wing "Million"-themed marches that have been organized over the past several years (such as December's "Million MAGA March") have fallen well short of the million people they claimed to rally—usually, they number at best in the tens of thousands. But Sunday's planned "Million Militia March" was a failure of truly epic proportions: It seems no one showed up to march. Not a soul.

Similarly, worries about marches on various states' Capitols around the nation turned out to be groundless when only tiny smatterings of armed militiamen showed up at a few of the events that pro-Donald Trump "Patriots" said they were planning in places such as Columbus, Ohio, and Salem, Oregon. Both failures suggest that the American radical right is now in utter disarray, at least for the time being.

The plans for the Washington march, coming on the heels of the January 6 insurrection attempt at the Capitol by the same crowd of violent far-right Trump supporters, were supposed to represent a kind of "Round 2" for their attempt to overturn the results of the November election by falsely claiming the vote was riddled with fraud.

However, the organizers were surrounded in chaos and incompetence—unable to settle on a date, disagreements over the focus of the march, and claiming the state-capital protests were actually "false flags" organized by the "Deep State" as a way of urging greater attendance. Those same accusations were then laid against them by organizers of the state-level protests.

Attendance was probably also significantly dampened by the wave of arrests of key leading figures in the January 6 insurrection. Major militia groups such as the Oath Keepers and III Percenters are currently the focus of an FBI investigation. Livestreaming alt-right figure Tim "Baked Alaska" Gionet was arrested Saturday for his prominent role in the insurrection.

On Saturday, Cuoy Griffin, the New Mexico county commissioner who heads up "Cowboys for Trump," was arrested for his role participating in the Capitol takeover. Griffin, who was retweeted by Trump in May for saying "the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat," had also boasted that he intended to bring his guns to Biden's inauguration.

The chaos resulted in a complete no-show Sunday, exacerbated by the extraordinary security measures now in place around the Capitol in anticipation of Wednesday's Inauguration for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. A RawsMedia tweet Sunday showed the streets around the Capitol Mall completely empty, primarily due to security measures, with not a single peep from any far-right protesters.

The situation at most state capitals was roughly the same, despite the plans announced by angry MAGA fans during the week before:

  • In Columbus, Ohio, about a dozen militiamen showed up to march. Most of these men were affiliated with the "Boogaloo" civil-war movement, and they claimed they had nothing to do with the insurrection in Washington.
  • The scene in Lansing, Michigan, was similar: A smattering of "Patriot" protesters standing outside thoroughly guarded Capitol grounds, shouting a few slogans and utterly impotent.
  • In Salem, Oregon, protesters were outnumbered 3-to-1 by the members of the media who were there to cover them.
  • In Olympia, Washington, which had seen several protests around January 6, the grounds of the state Capitol were essentially deserted on Sunday.
  • Perhaps the most pathetic state-capital protest was in Trenton, New Jersey, where a single protester showed up with a sign that he eventually abandoned on a sidewalk.

The decidedly low energy for these events is reflective of the disarray that has descended on American radical-right circles ever since the January 6 riots. As Alexander Reid Ross described at Daily Beast, alt-right white supremacists have engaged in extensive bickering over the mess, accusing each other of being federal informants and traitors to the cause, as well as con artists.

"Eric Striker and other movement f**s want you to join a public group to grift off of you and other naïve whites," commented one white supremacist on Telegram, "and when these naïve whites get arrested for doing stupid public shit, Striker and the other grifting movement fags kick these naïve whites to the curb without hesitation, thought, or remorse for their own actions which got these naïve whites into trouble in the first place. Think about that."

Sunday’s ‘Million Militia March’ On DC And State Capitals Disrupted By Chaos On Far Right

Reprinted with permission from Daily kos

The far-right extremists who overran the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 are far from done—but it's also far from clear where they plan to strike next. That's because the organizers of the various pro-Trump factions behind last week's insurrection can't agree on whether to hold a fresh round of protests in state capitals around the nation, or to focus their fire on Washington, D.C., for militia-based protests beginning Sunday and perhaps extending into Inauguration Day on Wednesday.

On the one hand, a number of far-right factions have been assiduously organizing armed protests—and possible statehouse invasions—at the Capitols of all 50 states, many of which appear to be ill-prepared for the onslaught. Yet a number of factions are urging people to ignore those protests—even conspiratorially smearing them as "false flags"—and instead concentrate their efforts on creating a massive turnout for Sunday's planned "Million Militia March" in D.C.

The plans for a "Round 2" began appearing in posts within hours of the initial Capitol siege on Jan. 6. About a day later, the first announcement appeared on the currently-defunct right-wing social-media site Parler, from an account associated with the authoritarian QAnon cult, announcing a "Million Militia March" for Jan. 17. It read:

Millions of American Militia will meet in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2021 for the purpose of preventing any attempt by the treasonous domestic enemy Joe Biden, or any other member of the Communist Organized Crime Organization known as the Democratic Party, from entering the White House belonging to We The People.
In the event that justice is miraculously served and our Re-Elected President Donald J. Trump is sworn in: The President, the capital and our National Monuments will be protected from the proven-violent Leftist insurgents who have declared war on the United States of America and have been committing a massive insurrection in the United States of America.

About the same time, an event called the "Million Martyr March"—honoring Ashli Babbitt, the woman who was shot to death during the Capitol siege while attempting to storm House chambers—was promoted on Parler, planned for Inauguration Day. The post promoting the event appeared shortly after the militia event was announced, featuring a flier with a logo and text ("On January 6th an unarmed woman was shot and killed in our nation's capitol. Two weeks after her death we will march to demand justice for all Americans") misspelling Babbitt's name, as it happened. The march appears to be largely considered supplemental to the larger militia event on Sunday.

The Parler posters supporting the Million Militia March, freed from the constraints of mainstream platforms, were unrepentant in their open calls to engage in insurrectionist violence. In one post, a self-described "retired colonel" boasted that the Sunday march, and possibly others in the following days, would be awe-inspiring in its size.

"If we must, many of us will return on January 19 carrying our weapons, in support of our nation's resolve, to which the world will never forget," he wrote. "We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match. However the police are not our enemy, unless they choose to be!"

He added: "All who will not stand with the American Patriots … or who cannot stand with us … then that would be a good time for you to take a few vacation days."

Some of the Million Militia March advocates dismissed state-level protests as distractions at best, and nefarious government "false flag" operations intended to ensnare unsuspecting "Patriots." "Do not attend armed protests at state capitols before inauguration! Possible sinister plot hatched by radical left to take away gun rights!" a post in a Telegram chatroom devoted to the far right read.

A Washington Post report on the online organizing for the events cited a study by the anti-disinformation organization Althea Group, which surveyed the broad array of post-January 6 discussions by far-right groups, and found that some of the insurrectionists took an "all of the above" approach as well.

"REFUSE TO BE SILENCED," read an online post calling for an "ARMED MARCH ON CAPITOL HILL & ALL STATE CAPITOLS" for Sunday. Another advocated action at "DC & All State Capitols," signed by "common folk who are tired of being tread upon" and declaring: "We were warned!"

Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League told the Associated Press that the D.C. events appear unlikely to draw a massive crowd. In either case, a lack of agreement on a strategy appears likely to dilute both the state-level and D.C. protests.

As Politico's Tina Nguyen and Mark Scott explain, the far right's organizing efforts—as well as efforts to counter them—are complicated by the chaotic and decentralized nature of the pro-Trump forces online. The posts advocating and organizing the events are to be found not simply on Telegram—which has in fact become a major hub, thanks to the 25 million new usersit gained since the purge of the far right from mainstream platforms last week—but in such predictable locations as the far-right-friendly platform Gab, as well as on unexpected platforms such as TikTok.

TikTok videos from influencers bearing the Three Percenters logo as their avatar, referring to the anti-government militia movement, are hyping up future protests — even going so far as to publish videos of them collecting ammunition and guns, while playing doctored audio suggesting that Trump wants them to target his vice president, Mike Pence.
On Gab and Telegram, two fringe networks frequented by white nationalist and other extremist groups, mysteriously-originated videos of military personnel walking around American cities have also gone viral, with social media users either questioning if such activity was part of support for Donald Trump's presidency or efforts by the government to clamp down on people's constitutional rights.

Woven among many of these pro-militia videos on Tik Tok is a groundless conspiracy theory claiming that martial law is imminent in America. According to Media Matters, the TikTok "MartialLaw" hashtag has over 26 million views, while a similar "MartialLawIsComing" hashtag has attracted over 1.1 million viewers. At both hashtags, the top videos "contain panic-inducing misinformation about martial law."

The confusion has spread some wavering commitments on the part of participants. Politico notes that the far-right militia group Boogaloo Bois originally organized their own event for Sunday but then attempted to cancel it. Warning that "mainstream headlines" had drawn too much attention, they nonetheless encouraged any protesters out that day to bring weapons to Washington, despite the city's well-known ban on the open carry of firearms: "If you can carry legally, you can carry," they claimed.

Some major far-right figures are throwing up their arms and running away from all of these events—declaring, in typically paranoid fashion, that both the state-level and D.C. protests are "Deep State" plots to draw "Patriots" into criminal behavior for which they can be arrested, or by far-left "antifa" schemers hoping to make MAGA supporters look bad. Among the leading voices of this contingent is Infowars' Alex Jones.

"Do not go to capitols armed, do not be part of the demonstrations on January 20th. It's run by the globalists," Jones warned on Tuesday. "There isn't some secret plan to overthrow things so Trump wins. All you're doing is cementing things as domestic terrorists, so Biden can cement a new Patriot Act and come after you."

FBI Warns Against Far-Right Violence In Every State Over Coming Weeks

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week may have been just the beginning of a flash tide of violent far-right insurgency in America—probably culminating around the time of Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20—if the internet pronouncements of the ideologues fomenting the insurgency are anything to judge by.

Even as the conspiracist far right promoting Donald Trump's false claims that he lost the election fraudulently was massively de-platformed this week—with Trump himself being suspended from Twitter and Facebook and the right-wing social media platform Parler losing its internet service—the seditionist rhetoric and open organizing of armed resistance to Biden's inauguration has spread and intensified, including plans for armed takeovers of state Capitol buildings in various states as well as in Washington, D.C. Law enforcement agencies are on full alert in some of those states, especially as intelligence has been gathered indicating a high likelihood of "Boogaloo" civil war movement-inspired violence in the next two weeks.

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VIDEO: Thugs Who Attacked Capitol Were Prepared To Take Hostages — And Execute Them

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The people who besieged the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday were not merely rioters and insurrectionists. Some of them appear to have been intent on taking hostages and murdering them, and there are signs that the attempt was carefully planned out.

Photo evidence shows people who entered the building came prepared to take hostages, and to bind them with zip ties. Witnesses say talk was rampant about executing Vice President Mike Pence—who only an hour before the riot had declined to follow Donald Trump's urgings and object to the Electoral College results—as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.


Capitol insurrectionists chant 'Hang Mike Pence!', vow to return to 'finish the job' www.youtube.com

The rioters could be seen on video chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" as they entered the Capitol. Getty Images photographer Win McNamee captured the startling image of a masked and armed man clambering about Senate chambers—where Pence had been presiding over the proceedings only an hour before—with a parcel of premade zip cuffs. Other photosshowed multiple invaders carrying restraints—in one case was a man identified as a military veteran with a security clearance.

Reuters photographer Jim Bourg, who was with the rioters, reported:

I heard at least 3 different rioters at the Capitol say that they hoped to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor. It was a common line being repeated. Many more were just talking about how the VP should be executed.

Journalist Andrew Feinberg reported that the rioters went on the hunt for Pence, Pelosi, and Schumer upon gaining entry to the Capitol. White nationalist Tim "Baked Alaska" Gionet livestreamed himself invading Pelosi's office and vandalizing it while making mock phone calls from it.

The entire scenario these invaders seemed to have in mind bore more than a passing resemblance to the plot dreamed upby the members of Michigan's "Wolverine Watchmen," who before their arrests by the FBI for conspiring to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer actually planned to invade the state Capitol in Lansing, take public officials hostage, and then televise or livestream their executions.

And there are indications that the invasion of the Capitol was carefully planned, perhaps with the participation of the Oath Keepers, a far-right group that specializes in recruiting and radicalizing military and law enforcement veterans. The organization's leader and founder—who as a speaker at previous pro-Trump rallies in Washington, D.C. and had urged Trump to use the Insurrection Act in order to declare martial law—was spotted at Wednesday's rally, and members of the group not only were seen appearing to prepare for the assault on the Capitol, but were seen on video shot by journalist Ford Fischer playing a key role in the initial breaching of its security perimeter.

Oath Keepers have played a leading role in whipping up groundless conspiracist hysteria over what they call the "stolen election"—and even before the election had called for Trumpto declare martial law. Rhodes urged his members to prepare for "civil war," and after the election, Oath Keepers' rhetoricveered into outright threats of violence against public officials and journalists.

Whichever former law enforcement officials might be involved in these schemes are seemingly oblivious to the existence of federal laws that make even planning to kidnap members of Congress a crime punishable with life imprisonment (namely, 18 U.S. Code § 351).

Nothing appears to deter these extremists, who are currently basking in massive online adulation by their far-right brethren for the attack on American democracy as Jared Holt, analyst for the Atlantic Council, explained to Greg Sargent of The Washington Post.

"By all measurable effects, this was for far-right extremists one of the most successful attacks that they've ever launched," Holt said. "This will be lionized and propagandized on likely for the next decade."

Moreover, he explained, the insurrectionists' success in overtaking the building will be a long-term talking point for the radical right: "These communities are discussing the attack as some sort of validation that it actually is possible for them to exert their power like this and achieve results. They're talking about this as the first stab in a greater revolution."

Certainly, the insurrectionists Wednesday had no doubts that they would be returning with even greater violence in mind. Multiple rioters verbally attacked police officers trying to hold the line, telling them, as one of them did afterwards: "Traitors get the rope. Traitors get the noose. Wait till we come back with rifles, motherfucker. You think that's an idle threat?"

One of the Capitol invaders interviewed by Fischer blamed Mike Pence for the day's violence, notably the shooting of an insurrectionist near the House chambers by a Capitol Police officer.

"We're not putting up with this tyrannical rule!" he shouted. "If we gotta come back here and start a revolution, and take all of these traitors out, which is what should be done, then we will."

Proud Boys Leader, A Convicted Felon, Will Face Illegal Weapons Charge

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Enrique Tarrio, the Florida-based national chairman of the Proud Boys, was arrested Monday in Washington, D.C., by Metropolitan Police on property-destruction charges related to his admitted participation in the December 12 vandalization of African American churches following a pro-Trump rally earlier in the day. Tarrio was taken into custody at National Airport as he arrived to participate in this week's "March for Trump" rally.

Police also said they found Tarrio in possession of two high-capacity ammo magazines for a gun, and "charged him accordingly." Tarrio is a convicted felon and thus forbidden to possess weapons or ammunition, and is likely to face felony weapons-possession charges as a result.

Tarrio's arrest was first reported on Twitter by USA Today reporter Will Carless, who tweeted that he was on the phone with Tarrio when the arrest occurred. "While we were on the call, sirens started blaring in the background," Carless tweeted. "They're for me," Tarrio joked at first, then told his driver to pull over.

"Here's something to write about," he then quipped, then ended the call.

According to the New York Times, police arrested Tarrio, 36, on suspicion of burning a Black Lives Matter banner amid the widespread violence of the December 12 pro-Trump protests. Police added that he has been found with two high-capacity firearm magazines.

Tarrio was convicted in 2013 of multiple felonies (two class C, one class D and one class E) for stealing and reselling $1.2 million worth of diabetes test strips from Abbott Labs. He served 16 months in federal prison and served two years on parole. As a felon, he is forbidden from possessing firearms or ammunition. D.C. also has strict laws forbidding possession of ammunition for any gun that is not registered in the district.

After the attacks on the African American churches and their Black Lives Matter signs, D.C. police announced the incident was being investigated as a hate crime. However, Tarrio went on the right-wing social-media platform Parler and denied that it was a hate crime—and moreover boasted that he was the person seen on video setting fire to Asbury United Methodist Church's BLM banner.

"I was the person that went ahead and put the lighter to it and engulfed it in flames, and I am damn proud that I did," he wrote. He also claimed that the action was not motivated by racial bias, but rather as a protest against Black Lives Matter.

"The only hate I have in my heart is for communism and an authoritarian government," he wrote. "BLM is a Marxist movement. It isn't about the color of someone's skin."

Hours prior to that, Tarrio had been hosted at the White House for a private visit, though officials said he did not meet with Trump and that he had not been invited by the White House. Tarrio claimed on Parler he had received "a last-minute invite to an undisclosed location." He went to the executive mansion with other members of Latinos for Trump, who had flown by private jet to D.C. for that day's events.

As the Times noted, Tarrio's arrest "also pits the Justice Department against some of Mr. Trump's most ardent supporters; the U.S. attorney's office in Washington acts as the main prosecutor's office for the District of Columbia."

Parler Is The New Gab — A Far-Right Hive Of Scum And Villainy

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Parler, the Twitter-like social-media platform, only exists to service the American right's paranoia-fueled persecution complex, especially the belief that mainstream platforms censor their ideas. After all, it was created ostensibly to give people who had been banned from Twitter or Facebook a new home.

So it's probably not a surprise that, in the post-election period, it's become a massive cesspool of violent seditious rhetoric advocating for a military coup to defend Donald Trump's presidency, and a civil war in which many of them say they intend to murder every liberal in the country.

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