Jordan Green

A 'federal crime of terrorism': How judges are using a little-known statute to keep the worst MAGA rioters locked up

Federal prosecutors are using a little-known federal terrorism statute to keep members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys locked up as they await trial on charges related to the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol.

Most recently, government lawyers have cited the statute in a court filing to prevent the release of Robert Gieswein, a Colorado man who marched with the Proud Boys on Jan. 6 while dressed in tactical gear and armed with a baseball bat and aerosol chemical spray can. Gieswein is accused of spraying a chemical agent at Capitol police officers and entering the Capitol through window breached by Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola, making him one of the first people to make it into the building. According to the government, Gieswein followed a group of rioters who chased Officer Eugene Goodman up the steps towards the Senate chamber, while it was still occupied, only to be redirected when Goodman retreated up a different stairwell leading away from the chamber. The government alleges that Gieswein went on to spray officers twice more — once inside the Capitol and again near the Capitol Visitor Center.

In a motion filed on June 15, the government declares that Gieswein "committed a federal crime of terrorism and two crimes of violence." As cited by the government, felony destruction of federal government property is considered a "federal crime of terrorism" under Title 18 USC Section 2332b(g)(5) when it is "calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion."

"The grand jury found probable cause in count one of the indictment to believe that the defendant intended to obstruct an official proceeding by committing, among other things, acts of civil disorder and entering and remaining in the Capitol building on January 6," Assistant US Attorney Erik M. Kenerson wrote in the motion. "He entered through the very window whose destruction he is charged with aiding and abetting." (The government acknowledged in the filing that it has uncovered no evidence that Gieswein was affiliated with the Proud Boys prior to Jan. 6.)

By citing the federal terrorism statute, the government is establishing a presumption for detention, which requires the defendant to show the court why they should be released on bail before trial, rather than the other way around, said Walter Holton, a former federal prosecutor. While there is no law on the books making domestic terrorism a crime on its own, the element of terrorism can be used to enhance sentences once defendants are convicted.

"I think that's where the government is coming from," Holton told Raw Story. "It's putting the court on notice that if this person's convicted, the likelihood of them becoming a flight risk is increased because they're facing stiffer penalties."

Under the statute, conviction of a crime involving terrorism carries a term of a minimum of 10 years in prison, although some of the defendants face charges that carry sentences of up to 20 years.

The government has cited the federal terrorism statute in court filings against at least five members of the Oath Keepers and at least four Proud Boys members who are facing conspiracy charges in the assault on the Capitol. The Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, along with six southern California men who organized under a Telegram chat called "California Patriots-DC Brigade," are the focal point of the government investigation into coordination and planning to obstruct the peaceful transfer of presidential power through the temporary occupation of the Capitol.

At least two federal judges have agreed with the government in describing the alleged offenses of some of the Capitol rioters as acts of terrorism.

In detention orders issued the same day using identical language against Joseph Biggs and Ethan Nordean, two national Proud Boys leaders who led the march to the Capitol on Jan. 6, Judge Timothy J. Kelly wrote on April 20 that "there is a rebuttable presumption that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant as required and the safety of the community." Kelly went on to say that Biggs and Nordean are each charged with "multiple felony offenses, including one Congress has characterized under these circumstances as a federal crime of terrorism, and another that exposes him to a 20-year sentence. In addition, the charges against him are by their very nature gravely serious."

Another federal judge has also used the term "terrorism," although more broadly to describe the overall assault on the Capitol, which involved hundreds of people, at a minimum.

"What occurred was — as alleged, is clearly terrorism," Magistrate Judge William Matthewman said during a June 2 detention hearing in southern Florida for Jason Dolan, one of 16 Oath Keepers charged with conspiracy. "It's clearly an unpatriotic attack on our country."

The judge later added: "Obviously, what happened on January 6th was just clearly a terroristic act based on the allegations in the indictment and just a horrendous attack on our country and our Constitution."

Despite characterizing the overall assault on the Capitol as "terrorism," Matthewman ultimately released Dolan to home detention with GPS monitoring.

Holton, who was appointed by President Clinton to serve as US attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina in the 1990s, said there's a simple reason why Congress has not voted to make domestic terrorism a crime in and of itself.

"Because it's white people," he said. "The same reason they can't pass an infrastructure bill. The Republican Party currently is not interested in criminalizing domestic terrorism. If you look at what happened on Jan. 6, that's the reason. It's their people; people who voted for Trump committed those acts."

Holton said the sentencing enhancements for offenses involving domestic terrorism was enacted in 2004, following the 2001 passage of the USA Patriot Act.At the time, the ACLU raised concerns about how the Patriot Act expanded the definition of domestic terrorism, warning that it could be used to criminalize civil disobedience. The civil liberties organization cited protests against US Naval military exercises on the island of Vieques, describing in an explainer how "protesters illegally entered the military base and tried to obstruct the bombing exercises" and how "this conduct would fall within the definition of domestic terrorism because the protesters broke federal law by unlawfully entering the airbase and their acts were for the purpose of influencing a government policy by intimidation or coercion."

More recently, the ACLU came out against the 2019 Confronting the threat of Domestic Terrorism Act, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), arguing: "People of color and other marginalized communities have long been targeted under domestic terrorism authorities for unfair and discriminatory surveillance, investigations and prosecutions. Law enforcement agencies' use of these authorities undermines and has violated equal protection, due process and First Amendment rights. Law enforcement agencies already have all the authorities they need to address white supremacist violence effectively. We therefore urge you instead to require agencies to provide meaningful public data on their use of resources and failure to prioritize white supremacist violence."

Holton said he supports making domestic terrorism a federal crime, while arguing that the definition on the books clearly delineates between violent conduct and peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights.

"If you engage in an act of violence or an effort to forcefully intimidate government officials for a purpose or a political agenda, that has nothing to do with the First Amendment," he said. "If you're attempting what happened — attempting to overthrow the government by force or stop a lawful government function by force, why would we not? If you're attempting to intimidate a race of people, the Ku Klux Klan is already labeled a domestic terrorism outfit."

The current terrorism enhancements could also conceivably apply to assaults against federal buildings in Portland, Ore. and other cities since last summer, Holton said, although he added that he isn't aware of any federal prosecutors having done so.

"If you are destroying a federal property to influence a political position, then, yes it could," he said.

Jason Blazakis, who served as counterterrorism finance and designations director at the State Department under President Obama, said in an email to Raw Story that he has seen the US government use the term "domestic terrorism" multiple times in press releases announcing prosecutions of individuals who were never subsequently charged with terrorism.

"This is problematic as it prejudices the case against the individuals," he said. "And it shows the level of creativity prosecutors and law enforcement have to go to try to keep these dangerous folks in check. And, it really highlights the need for a domestic terrorism statute."

Blazakis added that if the government is going to invoke the federal terrorism statute against Jan. 6 defendants, but not charge them for acts of terrorism, "that should be of concern to every American. Overreach and being too creative in developing cases (and motions for that matter) is a dangerous recipe."

Along with Biggs and Nordean, two other Proud Boys — Charles Donohoe and Dominic Pezzola — are also locked up as they await trial. Judge Kelly, who also described the alleged offenses of Biggs and Nordean as federal crimes of "terrorism," likewise ordered Pezzola to remain locked up, citing the federal terrorism statute. Pezzola is accused of using a stolen police riot shield to bust out a Capitol window, leading to the initial breach of the Capitol.

Donohoe, a North Carolina chapter president who has been described by a federal magistrate as a "trusted senior lieutenant" who was "responsible for the group's secure communications," is accused by the government of assisting Pezzola and reportedly bragged on Telegram about possessing the stolen riot shield. The government has argued that Donohoe, who has a hearing scheduled on Wednesday, should remain in detention, based in part on having "aided and abetted others… to forcibly enter the Capitol" resulting in damage in excess of $1,000, which the government defines as "destruction of property."

"When destruction of property is 'calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion,' it also qualifies as a federal crime of terrorism," prosecutors wrote in a court filing last month.

John Daniel Hull IV, who represents Biggs, declined to comment for this story, while other attorneys representing Proud Boys and Oath Keepers defendants did not respond to emails.

Three members of the Oath Keepers are also currently locked up while awaiting trial.

Kelly Meggs, the Florida leader of the Oath Keepers, participated in a "stack" formation that snaked up the east steps of the Capitol as other rioters fired pepper spray at officers, beat them with shields and flagpoles, and yanked the doors open, according to a government filing. The government accuses Meggs and others in the "stack" of "aiding and abetting their attack, and then capitalizing on the breach moments later."

As with the Proud Boys, the government argued that "the offense was clearly calculated to 'influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion' under Section 2332b(g)(5)(A)," successfully securing Meggs' pre-trial detention.

Judge Amit P. Mehta noted that during the detention hearing for Meggs' co-defendant, Kenneth Harrelson, the government submitted evidence that once Meggs made it into the Capitol, he and other Oath Keepers started walking toward the Senate chamber, where they were turned away by police. Then, they headed south toward the House chamber.

"He apparently was searching for at least one member of Congress in particular — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi," Mehta wrote. "In a communication sent on the evening of January 7, an unidentified third person said to defendant [that he] '[w]as hoping to see Nancy's head rolling down the front steps,' to which defendant answered: 'We looked forward her.' The word 'forward' is almost certainly a typo, and what defendant meant to convey is that he and others 'looked for' Speaker Pelosi. This evidence only confirms the court's original assessment of defendant's dangerousness, and that his release would endanger the community."

When FBI agents searched Harrelson's home in Titusville, Fla. following his March 10 arrest, they found a "go bag" with an AR-15-style rifle, a revolver, a semi-automatic handgun and a "burner" cell phone, according to a government filing. They also reportedly found a copy of Technological Slavery: The Collected Writing of Theodore J. Kaczynski, aka 'The Unabomber' and a survival guide on "eluding pursuers and evading capture."

"The conduct of defendant Harrelson and his co-conspirators — invading and temporarily taking over the national legislature while it was convening, pursuant to federal law, to formally count the ballots for the presidential election — was clearly 'calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion," the government argued, concluding that "the definition of the federal crime of terrorism has been satisfied."

Assistant US Attorney Ahmed Muktadir Baset argued that Jessica Watkins, who breached the Capitol in full tactical gear while an unidentified person instructed her on Zello to "arrest this assembly… for acts of treason, election fraud," was a special case.

"She was somebody who recruited, trained, planned, and participated and organized a major part of this insurrection," Baset said during Watkins' Feb. 26 detention hearing. "And the reason is because it was calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation, origin and force. And so, for those reasons, we do believe that what she was engaged in was a federal crime of terrorism under 2332a, as it's defined."

'I've got lots of ammo': NC conservatives express 'real fear' elections are being stolen -- and they want action

Jay DeLancy, a retired Air Force Colonel with a clean-shaven head and the energetic manner of a nondenominational preacher, stood at the front of a Baptist church in the Appalachian foothills on a recent Saturday afternoon at the conclusion of his presentation on voting by non-citizens.

Complete with a slideshow and self-deprecating commentary, DeLancy's presentation detailed a saga running back almost a decade when his group Voter Integrity Project attempted to challenge dozens of registered voters on the basis of jury excuse forms that indicated they were not citizens of North Carolina. The state Board of Elections had thrown out each of the challenges, and successive efforts to obtain legislation remedies failed. DeLancy said he was also frustrated that after 11 of the cases were referred to Immigration & Customs Enforcement for investigation, nothing seemed to come of it.



Voter Integrity Project responds to the NAACP v. NCSBEE ruling. youtu.be


"But these people are running around saying, 'There is no vote fraud because, well, there's no prosecutions," DeLancy said. "We'll, have you gotten the gist of how hard it is to get a stinkin' prosecution? Have you gotten that yet? So, it's really hard to get one."

A woman with short, silvery hair raised her hand and stood to speak.

"Do you really think that we — we can't go in and break dishes, and we're supposed to sit back like this — I don't think we've got that type of time," she said during the question-and-answer period at the June 12 "Voter Integrity Bootcamp." Held in the spacious sanctuary at Calvary Baptist Church, about 50 people — almost exclusively white, with the exception of one African-American man — strategized methods for deterring voter fraud.

DeLancy attempted to interject, but the woman continued.

"I really don't," she continued. "My real fear is — and this is coming from someone who's usually pretty calm, pretty cool and collected — I want to go out with a baseball bat and break some dishes and make some things happen. I'm tired of this…. I have a real fear that there's going to be civil unrest amongst what are usually very peaceful people. You can only be pushed to the precipice before — I'm done. I mean, when are we going to go golf?"

Expressing frustration, the woman continued, "I'm still not getting any direct action on what I can do."

"Trust me, that's next," DeLancy told her. "But it's a question of the ballot box versus the ammo box. And I'm trying to avoid…."

"I've got lots of ammo," the woman interrupted.

"Honey, you don't have enough," DeLancy said. "You don't have enough. There's not enough ammo on this planet for what you're talking about. Just saying. So, calm down."

Asked about whether his message could potentially fuel violence by undermining confidence in elections, DeLancy told Raw Story: "I'm not going to lie to them. I think there's a way to thread the needle to get elections back to something we can be confident in.

"We need a lot more transparency in this," he continued. "If we don't get it, we will lose our republic. We will become another Venezuela if we don't get this solved."

DeLancy, who co-founded Voter Integrity Project in 2011, held up the Arizona election audit as a model for the kind of process he would like to see to restore trust in elections. The Arizona audit has been widely panned for being run by a little-known company with no experience in election audits, concerns about ballots being compromised, and limiting access to the press.

"We'd like to see an audit — an Arizona-style audit," DeLancy told Raw Story. "In the worst-case scenario, people laugh their heads off, and say, 'You wasted all this money for nothing.'

"In my world, that's how we would do it," he added. "We would have citizen oversight of the process. We've outsourced the job to full-time and part-time government employees. The government employees are not neutral."

A majority of Republicans — 53 percent — believe, falsely, that Donald Trump is the "true president," according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in May. In comparison, only 3 percent of Democrats believe the election was stolen from Trump. Put together with unaffiliated voters, the poll found that 25 percent of all Americans buy into the false belief that the election was stolen.

DeLancy's trainings are receiving publicity from the NC State Defense Forces, which describes itself as an "all-volunteer, pro-government, non-partisan civil defense force comprised of currently and formerly serving military, police, first responders and other like-minded legal US citizens." The group, which announced its aim to "assist state citizens learning how to protect elections," says it upholds an oath to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic and to protect and serve the citizens of North Carolina according to the NC State Constitution in times of need such as natural disasters or local threats to law and order." Another press release, dated Dec. 15, 2020, that is published on the group's website announces: "Oath Keepers in North Carolina joining North Carolina State Defense Forces." It is not clear what, if any, connection the NC State Defense Forces might have with the dozen-plus defendants facing federal charges related to the Jan. 6 storming of the US Capitol. Calls to a number listed on the group's website for this story were not returned.

Two recurring themes in DeLancy's presentations are the notion that voter fraud is widespread and that institutions are unresponsive to efforts to ferret it out. Belying DeLancy's complaint about the difficulty of getting prosecutions when it comes to non-citizens voting — which had prompted the woman at his training in King to say she was ready "to go out with a baseball bat and break some dishes" — was a fact that went unmentioned in his presentation: Federal prosecutors under both Trump and Biden have announced indictments of dozens of North Carolina residents accused of voting as non-citizens, including 19 in August 2018, another 19 in September 2020 and, most recently, 24 others in March 2021.

Since the launch of the Voter Integrity Project in 2011, DeLancy has cultivated relationships among far-right Republican lawmakers in the NC House, including Rep. George Cleveland. Bob Hall, a voter-rights watchdog who often winds up on the opposite side in legislative fights, confirmed DeLancy's account that the Republican leadership doesn't always go along with him.

"He's more extreme than what the leadership wants," Hall said.

DeLancy framed his presentation on non-citizens voting at the June 12 training as a tale of heroes and villains. He suggested his audience would probably deem Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who vetoed a bill requiring local clerks of courts to share jury excuse forms with election offices, as the villain. But DeLancy offered a counterintuitive alternative, showing a slide with Cooper's faced X-ed out, alongside that of Republican Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. With Berger leading the Senate, the bill remained bottled up in committee when the Republicans had a veto-proof supermajority, DeLancy pointed out.

"Cleveland understood what [the legislation] was doing," DeLancy recounted on June 12. "My fingerprints were not on that bill. Cleveland put it through. He said, 'Should I name it 'Voter Roll'? I said, 'No, no, no. It's about jury excusals, interagency cooperation, that's all.' And he did it. He framed it that way."

The legislation supported by DeLancy would have also made the jury excuse forms into public records.

"That's a huge concern," Hall said. "In addition to the fact that the data is not reliable, you're giving an overworked staff at the county board a bunch of bad data. There's no penalty for someone to write, 'I'm not a citizen of the state,' to get out of jury duty. It's not a felony or a misdemeanor. People can write all kinds of things."

The harm of releasing jury excuse forms to citizen volunteers is illustrated by what happened when DeLancy accessed the forms in Wake County in 2012, Hall said.

"He got access to the jury excuse forms, and had his data guy line it up with registered voters," Hall recounted. "It turned out that the data was all wrong. It was complete harassment. There was a guy they videoed; Jay and his allies were coming up to this guy in his driveway, and they say, 'We want to talk to you.' It turns out he's a legitimate citizen. They wanted to claim he wasn't part of it. The thing was by the time they got that information — people who were not citizens at the time they were called to serve on juries had become citizens. Six months later, by the time he was doing his campaign, the data was old."

While DeLancy found Berger, the Republican leader of the state Senate in North Carolina, to be unreceptive, his view of other Republican officials across the country has likewise dimmed.

DeLancy told Raw Story that at one time he believed voter fraud primarily benefited Democrats. That changed during the 2020 election.

"After 2020, I think it mainly benefits an ideology," he said. "You might call it 'Never Trump.' You might call it globalism. In Arizona, the Republican senators were trying to get the ballots, and the Republican governor is trying to stop them."

DeLancy told Raw Story without hesitation that he believes the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Multiple judges have thrown out lawsuits challenging the 2020 election based on lack of evidence.

"I just find it mighty interesting that Trump was winning those key battleground states that had those large dumps of votes after midnight," DeLancy said. "You get a massive number of ballots that suddenly show up that swing the election conveniently against Trump."

The phenomenon DeLancy described was widely predicted by election observers who had noted that early returns would tend to favor Trump, while later surges of write-in and absentee votes — a method more widely embraced by Democratic voters — would benefit Biden. DeLancy indicated he's well aware of the theory, accurately identifying it as the "Red Mirage."

DeLancy said he's teaching citizen volunteers at the Voter Integrity Bootcamps to canvass voter rolls to try to identify illegal voters. By having volunteers knock on doors at addresses for voters listed as "inactive," he hopes to gather signed statements from witnesses attesting that these voters no longer live at the addresses where they are registered. He said his group will exercise "all options, to include challenging those voters if they show up at the polls."

The two trainings held so far this year by Voter Integrity Project have taken place in Republican-dominated areas, first in Waynesville on April 24 and then in King last weekend. But three trainings scheduled for next month are aimed at Democratic strongholds in Fayetteville, Raleigh and Durham.

During the recent training in King, DeLancy acknowledged the presence of a reporter and made sure everyone in the audience was also aware of it. But he did not temper his remarks.

During a digression on the topic of undocumented people traveling to North Carolina to obtain driver's licenses before the DMV stopped the practice in 2006, DeLancy complained about a TV news story that was too positive for his liking.

"There was just a friendly story about these people who came flooding in from Atlanta in a van," he said. "Couldn't speak a lick of English, but they were getting that license before they had to provide their citizenship. And only in TV-land in Charlotte is this something to celebrate."

Then his voice rose in a growl that revealed his frustration about the way he imagined he and his allies would be perceived because they weren't comfortable with undocumented people obtaining licenses to legally operate motor vehicles.

"But people like you who are obviously white supremacists, people like you are appalled by it," DeLancy said. "And it's like, come on. Come on, guys. Can't we defend our country? Aren't we allowed to have borders?"

'Person Three': Feds concentrating on North Carolina close in on Oath Keepers 'quick reaction force' leader

A new filing today in the case against one of the Oath Keepers defendants charged in a conspiracy to obstruct Congress' certification of the presidential election shows the government's continued focus on an unindicted co-conspirator designated to lead a "quick reaction force" who is linked to a group from North Carolina.

In a filing opposing defendant Thomas Caldwell's request to modify conditions of release, Assistant US Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy wrote that "a major part of his role in the conspiracy was organizing individuals who were on standby with guns in a hotel across the river, conduct that this court has described as among the most concerning aspects of the conspiracy and for which the evidence has only strengthened since defendant Caldwell's release."

The government has previously cited a communication from Caldwell referencing the unnamed "Person Three" as someone who was "committed to being the quick reaction force and bringing the tools if something goes to hell. That way the boys don't have to try to schlep weps on the bus."

The bus from North Carolina is widely understood to be a group of Oath Keepers located in Columbus County who had previously had contacts with current Oath Keeper defendants Caldwell and Donovan Crowl. (Laura Steele and Graydon Young, two other Oath Keeper defendants, traveled separately on a bus from Thomasville, NC.) George Douglas Smith, the leader of the Columbus County Oath Keepers, has previously said [link] that his group left Washington DC when they encountered mayhem at the Capitol building and returned to North Carolina.

Today's court filing from the government includes new details about the role of Person Three and the Oath Keepers group from North Carolina.

"The investigation has shown that Person Three did, in fact, come to Washington DC from January 5-7, 2021," Rakoczy wrote. "He stayed at the Comfort Inn Ballston, where defendant Caldwell suggested he and others should stay. An individual with whom Person Three traveled from North Carolina and who also stayed at the Comfort Inn Ballston later confirmed to a Facebook associate that Person Three was in charge of the quick reaction force. A bus of other individuals from North Carolina, some of whom were affiliated with Person Three, did come up to Washington DC on January 6, 2021. Some of the people on that bus were dropped off near the Lincoln Memorial, some near the Washington Monument, and some near the Capitol."

Racoczy wrote that the drop-off locations for the North Carolina bus riders were "interesting" in light of an exchange on the Oath Keepers' "DC OP: Jan 6 21" Signal chat on Jan. 2. The government said Kelly Meggs, who was designated as the "state lead of Florida" for the Oath Keepers, posted a map on the chat with the message: "1 if by land[,] North side of Lincoln Memorial[,] 2 if by sea[,] Corner of west basin and Ohio is a water transport landing!!" according to the government. The filing said Meggs continued by saying, "QRF rally points[.] Water of the bridges get closed."

The government said Person Three responded: "My sources DC working on procuring Boat transportation as we speak."

The government has suggested that Kenneth Harrelson, one of the Florida Oath Keepers, stashed weapons at the Comfort Inn Ballston.

The government cited a Signal chat for the Florida-based Oath Keepers in which Harrelson requested the location of the "QRF hotel," and Meggs responded with a direct message. Cell site location information shows that about three hours after sending the message, Harrelson arrived in the area of the Comfort Inn Ballston, according to the government, and remained there for about an hour before continuing on to Washington DC.

The government filing includes a printout of the Florida Signal chat showing Harrelson, as "Gator 6," writing at 8:55 a.m. on Jan. 7: "So we're just leaving DC and I would like to know where my shits at since it seems everyone's gone already."

Another user, whose name in redacted in the filing, responded: "Did u leave it at Comfort Inn in that room?"

A still from surveillance video included in the filing shows Harrelson at the Comfort Inn "rolling what appears to be at least one rifle case down a hallway towards the elevator," according to the government."

The filing also includes a surveillance image of an individual the government identifies as "Person Three" carrying what the government describes as "a large and long object wrapped under a bed sheet" to Caldwell's room after he and his wife returned from the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The new government filing indicates that Person Three remained involved in the conspiracy after the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.

The filing says Person Three forwarded a message from Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes to Caldwell on Jan. 10. The message from Rhodes suggested his followers "purchase medicine, medical supplies and hygiene materials 'to keep yourself clean under field grid down conditions,'" the government said.

"Is there a code word I should be looking for here?" Caldwell responded. "Don't see reference to insurrection."

'You can’t tie me to white supremacy': Inside the fight over 'critical race theory' in America's richest county

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In the aftermath of Virginia's 2019 election, when Democrats took control of both houses of the state legislature, an IT engineer named David Gordon announced a plan to help Republicans regain control of state government.

The Virginia Project, Gordon pledged in the mission statement for the new political action committee, would "force the Democratic Party to play defense, disrupt their narratives, and counter their long-view of strategy of incremental and continuous gains."

By March 2021, the Virginia Project would have a potent issue. Anxiety over critical race theory, a field of study developed by legal scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and others, was being fanned by conservative politicians, media personalities and local activists across the country, with detractors charging that school administrators were stealthily incorporating new ways of considering race and equity into school curricula.

The Virginia Project launched a "Program on Un-American Activities," which charged that topics like "critical theory, critical race theory, queer theory, equity, transgenderism, cancel culture and other forms of Cultural Marxism" were being wielded as "ideological subversion" against the United States.

The PAC squarely took aim at a key battleground in the new culture wars — Loudoun County, the wealthiest county in not only Virginia but the entire country, just outside of Washington DC.

Loudoun County Public Schools has acknowledged a history of discrimination against Black and Latinx students, and an energetic cross-section of school board members, teachers and parents has committed to promoting what it believes are more equitable practices. Meanwhile, a local parent named Scott Mineo was ramping up a new organization called Parents Against Critical Theory, or PACT, to fight the perceived implementation of critical race theory. PACT and the Virginia Project joined forces on March 3 to present a webinar entitled "What is Critical Race Theory and Its Impact on Loudoun County Schools" that casts the district's efforts to improve equity as a detrimental force that, as one presenter put it, is "now actually running our government."

Sensing a formidable alliance taking shape, parents on the other side of the debate drew up a list of opponents that was shared in the private Facebook group Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County. Screenshots of the Facebook thread were leaked, and critical coverage from the conservative website the Daily Wire and Fox News soon drew unfavorable attention to the school district.

Violent, racist and degrading emails and social media posts directed at teachers, school board members and parents quickly ensued.

Meanwhile, the Virginia Project issued letters threatening litigation against a school board member and a parent involved in efforts to promote equity. There is no evidence that Mineo or Gordon were responsible for any of the emails or social media posts, or encouraged anyone else to make them. Mineo and Gordon's organizations have denounced threats. In an April 22 press release, PACT declared it was standing with the school board "against any type of threatening or vile communications." A lawyer for the Virginia Project, albeit in a letter threatening a lawsuit against one of the parents, wrote that "all such threats and all people issuing any such threats are not in any way connected with or condoned by TVP."

Loudoun County is rapidly diversifying, with the white population dropping from 69.5 percent in 2010 to 63.1 percent, according to the most recent census estimate. White students in Loudoun County Public Schools have gone from being a majority of enrollment — 57.8 percent — in 2010 to only 43.4 percent today. Although white students are no longer the majority, they still make up the largest racial cohort.

In 2013, the school district launched a survey to gauge parents' input on a range of social and cultural issues. Based on the results, schools Public Information Officer Wayde Byard told Raw Story: "We undertook an equity effort, training staff, which is majority white. During the staff training, critical race theory was discussed. It was not the basis for the training. It was not indoctrination. It was not put in the curriculum."

Asked to provide evidence that Loudoun County Schools is teaching critical race theory, Parents Against Critical Theory founder Scott Mineo provided Raw Story with an invoice from a consulting group that shows the district was billed $3,125 in June 2020 for five hours of coaching support itemized as "follow-up meetings focused on critical race theory development."

Broadly summarized, according to a slide in a presentation by the consulting group that provided the training, critical race theory "analyzes the role of race and racism in perpetuating social disparities between dominant and marginalized racial groups."

Mineo told Raw Story that people who oppose critical race theory don't deserve to be stigmatized.

"Being against critical race theory doesn't mean that someone holds the position of a white supremacist," he said.

The administrators and teachers at Loudoun County Public Schools are reckoning with tangible evidence that the district has discriminated against Black and Latinx students. Following an investigation into a complaint filed by the NAACP Loudoun Branch, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced in November 2020 that "there is reasonable cause to believe that Loudoun County Public Schools' administration of the Academies of Loudoun program resulted in a discriminatory disparate impact on Black/African-American and Latinx/Hispanic students who applied to the Academy of Engineering & Technology and the Academy of Science programs in the fall 2018 admission cycle for enrollment in the 9th grade class of 2019-2020."

As the controversy over equity at Loudoun County Public Schools unfolded, Mineo has been catapulted into the national media, with appearances on Fox News' "Fox & Friends."

A "Fox & Friends" story headlined "Evidence of race indoctrination in Virginia classrooms is clear, Loudoun County parent says," ran on April 8, featuring an interview with Mineo. Introducing the segment, co-host Steve Doocy put the onus on Mineo, saying, "A Virginia parents group is fighting to keep critical race theory out of their classrooms in Loudoun County, Virginia. They've released evidence that, they say, proves the controversial curriculum is being used in their schools."

The evidence presented was a slide headlined "White fragility" that, ironically, appears to have proved its point as a focus of ire for conservative media and activists. The slide includes this quote: "Since white people are in a state of privilege with regards to racial issues (meaning they can choose not to think about racial issues that don't affect them) they may respond to the whole discussion of race with discomfort."

A slide in the presentation on critical race theory by the Virginia Project in the March 3 webinar co-hosted with Mineo's group claims that beneath the outward goals of "dismantling systems of oppression and structural racism," there is a hidden agenda "to undermine our constitution and individual sovereignty" and that it "erases history and culture and replaces it with a 'new, more equitable and equal' future." The slide concludes, "Critical theory is essentially a religion. Call it wokism, neo-Marxism, neo-racism or identity politics; it utterly lacks in humility and forgiveness and is practiced with religious zealotry."

For his part, Mineo shared a presentation with a slide that uses controversial and conspiracy-charged language to describe organizations that he says are responsible for promoting critical race theory. The presentation attacks the NAACP as "Black supremacists, anti-white and BLM supporter"; Black Lives Matter as a "domestic Marxist terrorist organization, black supremacists, anti-white, pro-segregation, anti-police, funded and controlled by white liberals"; and the National Education Association as "anti-education, anti-student, radical social justice warriors."

Sensing a threat to equity efforts in the school district, a group of parents opened a thread in the Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County private Facebook group "to compile a document of all known actors and supporters" in "the anti-CRT movement," as one parent put it.

Mineo's name was the first to be added in the March 13 Facebook thread.

All told, the parents working to promote equity compiled 50 names, including spouses, according to screenshots provided to Raw Story by the Virginia Project.

No evidence has been publicly presented indicating that the names of critical race theory opponents were published outside of the private Facebook group, or that anyone's addresses were listed on the Facebook thread. A screenshot reviewed by Raw Story shows that Jamie Neidig-Wheaton, the administrator of the group, turned off comments seven weeks ago, which would have been around March 16, the day the Daily Wire story came out.

The day after the Daily Wire article was published, a teacher named in the story received an email from an anonymous account that said, in part: "Really? You fucking ugly piece of dog shit…. How dare you and your merry band of dumb cuts and pussy 'men'! Fuck you and your list! Eat shit and die."

Another person wrote from an encrypted email account: "I saw your fat face in a Daily Wire article. I hope you die of a massive heart attack very soon. You aren't fit to teach how to lick a postage stamp, much less indoctrinating kids on how to judge people based on the color of their skin."

Scott Mineo and David Gordon, his webinar co-host at the Virginia Project, also found themselves on the receiving end of hostile email posts.

One Facebook user posted a photo of coffin samples for sale on Facebook Marketplace, writing, "I'd put them on the porches of my enemies as a warning… lol jk (kinda)," according to a Facebook screenshot. Then, in a comment, she specified: "Right now it'd be dropped off at the PACT leaders houses and the VA project dingbat David Gordon."

Other messages were far worse.

In April, two school board members, Vice Chair Atoosa Reaser and member Beth Barts, publicly shared a hideously violent and racist email they received.

"Don't be surprised when you low-IQ, poorly educated, and morally bankrupt pinko traitors are dragged from your beds in the middle of the night and hanged by the neck until dead by the righteously angry parents of your community," the email reads. "I will be cheering them on. White men built all the best things in the world. Every other civilization is inferior."

The writer goes on to describe laughing when he watched George Floyd die, closing, "You're welcome, you ungrateful subhuman torture-deserving vermin."

Mineo's group immediately issued a statement on its website denouncing the email, stating, "We completely reject anyone that wishes to help us that shares this type of mindset."

Gordon told Raw Story: "It didn't come from us. I wouldn't associate with anyone who does anything like that." But in a follow-up email, Gordon said he suspects the email was contrived to support false accusations against the Virginia Project. "Everyone assumed it was made up by one of the 'anti-racist' group members because it's so over the top, and just the kind of desperation move they are inclined to," he wrote. "Another possibility is that it's just some random shitposter in their mom's basement."

The two opposing sides have remained bitterly divided .

Citing a post by a member of the Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County who allegedly urged others to "hack and shut down or hijack websites" of anti-critical race theory groups, a lawyer for the Virginia Project warned administrator Jamie Neidig-Wheaton in a March 24 letter that "some of their actions violate Virginia criminal code, and some of their behavior subjects the culpable individuals to civil liability for compensatory and punitive damages."

Reached for comment, Neidig-Wheaton said, "My only request is that readers look at my church's antiracist pledge, and consider their commitments as Americans, and if they are Christians, consider their commitments as Christians."

In a similar letter to school board member Beth Barts, Philip Bradfield, a lawyer based in Newport News, wrote on behalf of the Virginia Project: "This letter is a formal demand that you immediately and completely cease to participate in, promote, request, call for, or solicit any and all behavior described above, including listing names, addresses, employers, etc. of perceived political enemies, hacking or hijacking websites of perceived political enemies, or other criminal/fraudulent activity online which is calculated to or tends to embarrass, humiliate, or harm the business, job, career, reputation, health, or life of another."

Screenshots of the Facebook thread do not include any addresses.

Bradfield alleged in the letter that Barts urged members of the Anti-Racist Parents of Loudon County Facebook group to push fellow board members to "call out statements and actions which undermine our stated plan to end systemic racism at LCPS."

Barts did not respond to emails seeking comment for this story.

Asked if the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office is investigating potential crimes committed by members of the private Facebook group, spokesperson Kraig Troxell told Raw Story: "Although we cannot provide specific details due to the active investigation, we can confirm a number of complaints surrounding messages posted by a social media group , as well as messages sent in response. The LCSO continues to examine the law in relation to these messages, and work with social media platforms to clearly identify these and other related communications."

The Virginia Project has portrayed parents, teachers and school administrators in Loudoun County as subversives, using inflammatory language and wording suggestive of conspiracies.

Re-booting the March 3 webinar on March 16 after the Daily Wire article began to cause waves, Virginia Project founder David Gordon said: "This presentation is done as part of our program on un-American activities, which was kind of named tongue in check, but it proved its name immediately when this very un-American group of critical-race-theory terrorists — there's really no other word to use for them — came after us.

"And now we have the entire political system lining up to put a stop to these people," Gordon continued. "And we're gonna sue everything and anyone connected to it. So, very good times are ahead."

In an interview with Raw Story, Gordon defended the use of the term "terrorist" to describe the opposing group.

"It's appropriate to the temperature they set," he said. "If you look up the definition of terrorism, it's violence for political objectives." Alluding to the accusation that members of the Anti-Racist Parents Facebook group have engaged in "hacking or hijacking websites of perceived political enemies," Gordon added, "They are commonly associated with terrorism."

The Virginia Project paid the Bradfield Injury Law Firm $2,500 in March, according to campaign finance reports on file with the Virginia Department of Elections. A donation request on the Virginia Project website suggests that if people are interested "in supporting legal action" but wish to remain anonymous, they should send checks directly to the Bradfield Injury Law Firm.

"If you are interested in supporting legal action against the perpetrators in this case, but do not wish to be identified as required in compliance reports, sending a check directly to our legal counsel does not count under law as a contribution to our political action committee and is not subject to reporting," the PAC says on its website. "We prefer contributions to our Civil Rights Defense Fund as these can be used for additional activities such as FOIA requests, but we understand that many are concerned with the risk of retaliation from 'woke' cults and 'woke' employers that appearing on a compliance report may subject them."

Gordon told Raw Story that he asked the PAC's treasurer to ensure that the arrangement was in compliance with Virginia law, adding that contributions directly to the law firm don't need to be reported because, while the Virginia Project is a partisan organization, the case involving Loudoun County Public Schools is not a partisan matter.

"Chris Marston, our treasurer, is also the general counsel of the Republican Party of Virginia," Gordon said. "That's as authoritative as my advice can possibly get. What I was told was that this is completely in compliance with Virginia law. I am paranoid about compliance. Of course, our political opponents will come after us."

The Virginia Project's campaign finance reports indicate that the PAC raised $33,159 from October 2020 through March 2021, and that Gordon paid himself $6,550 during that period, not counting expenses for food, gas and expenditures listed as "dental treatment for consultant's injury."

Gordon acknowledged to Raw Story that he lives in South Carolina.

Asked why, as a resident of South Carolina, he feels invested in the political future of Virginia, Gordon said, "I am a subject matter expert on the dysfunctionality of the Virginia Republican Party. I know how to fix it."

Consistent with the characterization of the Loudoun County equity advocates as un-American "domestic terrorists" bent on subverting the republic, the Virginia Project has also promoted the false claim that the Capitol riot was staged by unnamed left-wing agents.

"The Capitol riot is a Charlottesville hoax redux — all the players were left wingers, including all relevant elected officials — and also the alleged 'right wing' boogeyman they set up for preplanned violence," the Virginia Project tweeted on Jan. 15. "This is standard Democrat MO for many years."

Beyond its work with the Virginia Project, Parents Against Critical Theory has also recently announced a collaboration with 1776 Action, a 501(c)4 organization that is currently running an advertising campaign featuring former Housing & Urban Development Secretary and Ben Carson and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to counter critical race theory and the 1619 Project. A recent Fox News article quotes 1776 Action President Adam Waldeck as saying "his group plans to be active in Loudoun County."

The new partnership with 1776 action, alongside the recent appearances on Fox News, raises Parents Against Critical Theory founder Scott Mineo's profile and puts him in a better position to raise money.

Mineo told Raw Story that his activism is motivated by a conviction that matters of race and equity should not "be discussed in a manner that victimizes a kid in 6th grade as an oppressor."

He did not directly address a question about whether schools hold a responsibility to address historical oppression of people of color and persistent systemic racism.

"It's hard for me to answer because it's a very general question," he said.

While Mineo insisted that his opposition to critical race theory does not make him a "white supremacist," Facebook posts he appears to have authored under the username "Vito Malara" prior to the launch of Parents Against Critical Theory repeatedly express views that are anti-Black and anti-Muslim. Mineo acknowledged authorship of some of the posts, and did not deny that he is the owner of the "Vito Malara" account, which remains active.

One post from 2017 falsely implies that all Black children born out of wedlock do not have fathers in their lives.

"More than 72% of black children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock," Mineo wrote as "Vito Malara." "That means absent fathers. Ok, now we know that 72% of black kids are fatherless. So it begs the question, if they have no idea who their fathers are, how in the hell can they possibly claim their family members were slaves."

Asked about the statement last Tuesday, Mineo said, "When you're talking about a fatherless environment, maybe it was a hit-and-run. Those aren't my stats.

"It's a household that doesn't have a father in it," he continued. That is false: A controversial 2013 statement by CNN anchor Don Lemmon refers to out-of-wedlock births, not children in households without a father.

"I stand by my words," Mineo said. "You can't tie me to white supremacy."

He added, "Would a racist allow his daughter to date a minority? No."

In another post from 2017, "Vito Malara" described a group Black teenagers accused of assault as a "pack of savages." Mineo did not confirm authorship of the post.

At least two posts made the claim that Muslims refuse to assimilate when they immigrate to the United States and western Europe.

"My son's girlfriend is Muslim," Mineo said, when asked about one of the posts. "Whatever."

In another 2017 post, "Vito Malara" wrote: "These people will not assimilate, they only assassinate. How can anyone defend an ideology, not a religion, where the brainwashed murdering losers worship a man, a pedophile named Mohammad who married a 6-year-old girl."

Mineo indicated earlier this month that his views on Muslims have changed since then.

"What I believe now is if you're a radical Islamic terrorist, there's no place for you here," he said. "If you're a contributing member of society, then fine. To try to paint me to some kind of narrative, it's not going to work."

David Gordon with the Virginia Project told Raw Story he was not aware of the Facebook posts, while indicating he was not interested in reviewing them.

"I don't really care because it's not material to anything I'm doing," he said. "There are no posts by Vito or whoever he is in the presentation we did with Scott. It's academically sound, and it adheres to the facts."

Mineo told Raw Story that his experience leading Parents Against Critical Theory has taught him to be more diplomatic.

"I know I have to be more careful with my words," he said. "It's not a bad thing. It forces you to think.

"That's why I'm open to sit down and talk to anyone," he continued. "I have to be able to hold a position without being called a white supremacist. If you're going to call me a white supremacist, you better have some pictures of me walking around with a freaking hood. Because I'm not. I'm not. I know what I am."

'White Boy Summer': How Tom Hanks' son is inspiring Neo-Nazis eager for the return of the Third Reich

Chet Hanks' Instagram communique promising a "white boy summer" is ill-advised, self-absorbed and head-scratching. But the social-media salvo has also, predictably, received a warm reception from white supremacists who gleefully embrace it as a rallying cry for racial exclusion, right-wing violence and the return of the Third Reich.

Best known as the son of Tom Hanks, Chet Hanks is an actor of a lesser stature, with roles on "Empire" and "NCIS: New Orleans" as well as an erstwhile rapper who performed under the name "Chet Haze." On March 26, he posted a video of himself seated behind the wheel of a parked car and chewing gum, casually announcing: "Hey guys. Look, I just wanted to tap in real quick. I just got this feeling, man, um, that this summer is, uh… it's about to be a white boy summer. You know, take it how you want."

Then, he qualified: "I'm not talking about a Trump, NASCAR type white. I'm talking about me, Jon. B, Jack Harlow [two white artists who have been embraced by Black audiences] type white boy summer, you know what I mean? Let me know if you guys can vibe with that? And get ready, you know? 'Cause I am."

The phrase "white boy summer" uttered by a mid-level celebrity on social media would have gained traction with white supremacists regardless of the intention, but Hanks carries some extra baggage on his own. The gothic lettering on the "White Boys Summer" sweatshirts and T-shirts marketed on Hanks' Instagram page suggest white supremacist aesthetics, including Hitler's book Mein Kampf. And Hanks has previously courted controversy for using the N-word, and then arguing he is as entitled to say it as a Black person.

As if to deflect charges of racism, Hanks rolled out a new line of "Black Queen Summer" shirts and proffered in another Instagram video: "I want to see some white boys and some Black queens wearing each other's shirts." Centering white masculinity while also profiting from Black women is unlikely to assuage any critics and is in its own way open to cooptation from white supremacists. While upholding an ideal of white female purity and chastity (which inevitably sets white women up for failure), white supremacists also celebrate the sexual conquest of non-white women and rape as a tool of war.

Celebratory tweets and memes from openly Nazi Twitter accounts sprang forth almost immediately following Hanks' March 26 promise of "a white boy summer."

One day later, the user "Panther Den" tweeted to his 22,100 followers: "step 1: white boy summer / step 2: the return of Hitler." In another tweet that used the hashtag #WhiteBoySummer, Panther Den spliced Hanks' "It's about to be a white boy summer" footage into an aggressive montage that includes the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting, Hitler giving a sieg heil, Derek Chauvin killing George Floyd, and Trump supporters attempting to run a Biden campaign bus off an interstate in Texas during the 2020 election. To date, the video has been viewed 9,700 times and retweeted 166 times.

Another openly Nazi Twitter user, "Synth," tweeted: "Idk why they thought this was some sort of own against 'racists.' It had the complete opposite effect on people." That tweet links to another tweet that shows a clip from a satirical movie depicting a nature preserve for "endangered Aryans" to mate, with the comment, "Really, this is what #WhiteBoySummer is all about." In another tweet posting screenshots from Hanks' Instagram merch video, Synth marveled, "Was expecting him to scream 'HITLER!!!!!' when I saw the font." In the comment thread, Synth posted a link to Hanks' merch shop, and he and another user said they planned to buy the "White Boy Summer" apparel.

On the same day Hanks released his initial "white boy summer" video, a Nazi user named Cassius Kaiser expressed rage at a Los Angeles Times story raising the question of whether "localism" in surfing scenes amounts to "veiled racism."

"Localism is never going to go away and you unlocal limpwrists and minorities who don't know how to act are going to get fucked and there's absolutely NOTHING you LOSERS can do about it," he wrote.

A day later, thanks to Hanks, Cassius Kaiser had a hashtag.

"Basically, what I meant to say is, Surf Nazism," he tweeted on March 27. "It's coming and there's literally nothing you can do to stop it because WHITE BOY SUMMER IS fucking HERE."

Linking to a Black Twitter user who wrote that "'White boy summer' sounds like a threat," Cassius Kaiser responded, "It is," while attaching a 1960s-era photo of white surfers sieg-heiling from a vintage car packed with surfboards.

In a more recent tweet on April, Cassius Kaiser wrote that "summer is almost here" and "it is time to… run minorities and unlocals completely off the beaches."

The Twitter Communications team did not respond before publication to a request for comment from Raw Story about whether the tweets promoting racist violence and celebrating the Third Reich violate its terms of service.

On Telegram, a social media platform favored by white supremacists because of its encrypted video chat function and lax moderation, three "White Boy Summer" channels have materialized that are dedicated to producing memes. The White Boy Summer channel, which surpassed 1,000 subscribers on Tuesday evening, is the most prolific. The aim is to create content that can migrate to more mainstream social media platforms. In a discussion chat responding to a "White Boy Summer" meme riffing on the movie Fight Club, Telegram user "Oskar Dirlewanger" wrote: "Very glad to see people capitalized on the super douche Chet Hanks fantastic propaganda idea, keep this going until its mainstream normie tier."

Telegram channels devoted to "White Boy Summer" memes predictably incorporate Hitler, but also Derek Chauvin, neo-Nazi Christopher Cantwell and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis man invited to address the Republican convention after brandishing a rifle at Black Lives Matter protesters last summer.

At least one prominent white nationalist has acknowledged the "White Boy Summer" meme.

Vincent James Foxx, who runs the Red Elephants website and podcast, tweeted a photo of himself on a boat, accompanied by the text "Summer is for the white boys" on March 29. Foxx reportedly documented and incited street violence by the white supremacist group Rise Above Movement in 2017. Foxx stood alongside Nick Fuentes, leader of the Groyper movement, outside the US Capitol on Jan. 6 and was a featured speaker at the America First Political Action Conference organized by Fuentes in late February.

Not surprisingly, the white supremacist meme-ing is also drifting into misogyny.

A manufactured Facebook screenshot shared on the "White Boy Summer" channel on Tuesday depicts a user who is presumably a young, white woman reporting that a man asked her, "What summer is it?" in the midst of a sexual encounter, and then reacted angrily when she responded that it wasn't summer yet.

Users in the discussion thread coalesced around the idea that the fictitious woman was worthy of degradation and rejection, but oddly the thread evolved into a debate over which substances are the "drugs of the white man" versus drugs that are "gay," degenerate and associated with Black people.

One Telegram user made a full-throated endorsement of drug use, celebrating it as an enabler of racist violence.

"Totally," he wrote. "Blow a few lines after some whiskey and fight a n***** posse with the bois."

'Bloody civil war': Inside the heavily armed contingency force hovering over the Oath Keepers Jan. 6 prosecution

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While the government builds a conspiracy case against a dozen Oath Keepers accused of storming the Capitol, court documents indicate investigators also remain interested in whether the far-right militia group was staging "quick reaction forces" with heavy weaponry as a contingency to escalate violence.

An unindicted co-conspirator referenced in government court filings as "Person Three" and "Paul" is at the heart of indicted Oath Keepers' discussions about a heavily armed "QRF," or quick reaction force, that was supposed to stage outside DC as backup during the assault on the Capitol. At least two of the Oath Keepers defendants were in direct communication with the QRF leader, according to government filings. Thomas Edward Caldwell, a Navy veteran and former FBI section chief, is one. Another is Jessica Watkins, the Army veteran from Ohio who breached the Capitol. The QRF leader reserved a room at a hotel where other Oath Keepers were staying in advance of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, so it's likely that federal investigators know his name.

The QRF leader was also a liaison between the nucleus of Oath Keepers in battle gear who staged the assault on the Capitol and a North Carolina group of Oath Keepers that has since split from the national organization.

Texting Caldwell on Dec. 30, Watkins wrote that she intended to reach out to the individual known as "Person Three" "and see if the NC boys are coming." Caldwell responded that he had already spoken with "Person Three," according to court filings.

"At least one full bus 40+ people coming from NC," Caldwell texted to Watkins, according to government motion opposing pre-trial release. "[Person Three] is driving plus 1 and arriving nite before. As we speak he is trying to book a room at Comfort Inn Ballston/Arlington because of its close-in location and easy access to downtown because he feels 1) he's too broken down to be on the ground all day 2) he is committed to being the quick reaction force anf [sic] bringing tools if something goes to hell. That way the boys don't have to try to schlep weps on the bus. He'll bring them in his truck the day before."

Caldwell added in his message to Watkins that while he was composing his text he learned that the QRF leader had succeeded in booking the hotel room.

In a separate filing, the government cites a Facebook message from Caldwell to an unidentified recipient referencing a man named "Paul" who appears to be "Person Three." While recommending the Comfort Inn Ballston/Arlington, Caldwell wrote on Jan. 1: "Paul said he might be able to take one or two in his room as well."

On the same day, Caldwell messaged to Donovan Crowl, a Marine Corps veteran who breached the Capitol with Watkins: "[Person Three] has a room and is bringing someone. He will be the quick reaction force." Later in the same message, he reiterated the connection between the leader of the quick reaction force and the North Carolina group: "Oathkeeper friends from North Carolina are taking commercial buses up early on the 6th and back the same night. [Person Three] will have the goodies in case things go bad and we need to get heavy."

A government motion opposing Caldwell's pre-trial release indicates that Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, discussed the quick reaction force prior to the assault on the Capitol in a group chat on the encrypted app Signal that was called "DC OP: Jan 6 21." The motion said an unindicted co-conspirator referenced as "Person One" — widely reported to be Rhodes — warned the group: "DO NOT bring in anything that can get you arrested. Leave that outside of DC." He went on to say, "We will have several well-equipped QRFs outside DC." In addition to Rhodes, the government alleges that the chat included Watkins; Kelly Meggs, described by the government as the "team leader" of the Florida Oath Keepers; "and regional Oath Keeper leaders from multiple states across the country."

While acknowledging there was no discussion about breaching the Capitol in the chats prior to Jan. 6, the government has cited Rhodes' warning as evidence of active preparation for violence.

Communications among various alleged co-conspirators that have been cited in various government filing contain ample references to at least one quick reaction force.

In March 23 motion opposing pre-trial release for government lawyers wrote that on Jan. 2 "Meggs reported that he will be coordinating the 'QRF' with the Oath Keepers from North Carolina."

The filing cites a message from Meggs in the "DC OP: Jan 6 21" chat.

"Good call last night," Meggs wrote, according to the government. "Lots focered [sic]. I'll get with NC team today and find out QRF location." In an additional linkage between Meggs and the QRF leader, the government alleges that three rooms at the Comfort Inn Ballston/Arlington were reserved "in Person Three's name"; two of those rooms, according to the government, were paid for by a credit card in Meggs' name.

And on Jan. 3, according to a March 31 superseding indictment against 12 Oath Keepers defendants, Watkins wrote in a message to another Oath Keeper from Ohio: "We are not bringing firearms. QRF will be our Law Enforcement members of Oathkeepers." In a subsequent message, Watkins walked back her advice on firearms, suggesting some confusion on the issue. "Weapons are ok now," she reportedly wrote. "Sorry for the confusion."

The government has made no secret of its interest in those involved with the Oath Keepers' plans to field armed teams outside of DC at the time of the insurrection.

"The government is also investigating whether there were additional quick reaction force teams, besides the one led by Person Three, supporting the co-conspirators' efforts on January 6," lawyers wrote in a March 8 motion opposing Caldwell's pre-trial release.

Prior to the assault on the Capitol, the Oath Keepers made no effort to conceal plans for staging quick reaction forces, and if anything seemed eager to publicize them as a signal of strength. In an article headlined "Oath Keepers Deploying to DC to Protect Events, Speakers & Attendees on Jan. 5-6: Time to Stand!" that was published on the organization's website on Jan. 4, Rhodes wrote: "As we have done on all recent DC Ops, we will also have well-armed and equipped QRF teams on standby, outside DC, in the event of a worst-case scenario, where the President calls us up as part of the militia to assist him inside DC."

By late December, Caldwell was devising an elaborate plan to ferry weapons across the Potomac River as a contingency for escalation on Jan. 6.

Texting an individual associated with the Three Percenters, a right-wing militia movement, Caldwell wrote, "Can't believe I just thought of this: How many people either in the military or not (who are still supportive of our efforts to save the Republic) have a boat on a trailer that could handle a Potomac crossing?"

He continued: "If we had someone standing by at a dock ramp (one near the Pentagon for sure) we could have our Quick Response Team with heavy weapons standing by, quickly load them and ferry them across the river to our waiting arms. I'm not talking about a bass boat. Anyone who would be interested in supporting the team in this way? I will buy the fuel. More or less be hanging around sipping coffee and maybe scooting on the river a bit and pretending to fish, then if all went to shit, our guy loads our weps AND Blue Ridge Militia weps and ferries them across."

On Jan. 3, according to the government, Caldwell messaged "Person Three" on Signal, writing, "I'm calling it a night. Got feelers out in the boat idea, will finish new map tomorrow."

Since Jan. 6, Rhodes has attempted to portray plans for the quick reaction force as inconsequential and irrelevant, while presenting Caldwell as someone who didn't represent the Oath Keepers.

"Now, there was some chatter among other people like Thomas Caldwell, who is not an Oath Keeper, about having a QRF outside of DC," Rhodes said in a May 14 interview with the far-right website The Gateway Pundit. "It turns out to be one old veteran that couldn't even hardly walk.

"The media is once against grabbing any little thing they can find and trying to turn it into this grand conspiracy," he complained.

During the Gateway Pundit interview, Rhodes acknowledged that "some our people did go into the Capitol," while suggesting they were acting outside of command. Rhodes argued that the fact that the Oath Keepers entered the Capitol without rifles undermines the government's conspiracy case, but his words also contained an implied threat. In his remarks to Gateway Pundit, Rhodes redirected attention to a man he identified as "Whip," also known as "Mike." Government filings refer to him as "Person 10."

"The team leader on the ground that day was an experienced combat vet," Rhodes said. "The man was an explosives expert in the Army. He worked with Triple Canopy and Blackwater as a contractor all over the world, and he's an ex-cop. If he had actually intended for anyone to go into the Capitol and commit an insurrection, it would have looked very, very different from what we saw. The idea that was somehow an insurrection with no guns, no obvious intent to do anything, is ridiculous — a complete joke."

Rhodes could not be reached for this story.

"Whip," or "Mike," also appears in a video posted on the official Oath Keepers YouTube account documenting the militia's presence in Louisville, Ky. on Sept. 23, the day results of a grand jury investigation were announced finding that police officers were justified in fatally shooting Breonna Taylor. Narrating the video, Rhodes identifies "Whip" as "our team leader."

The following day, according to an account in the Washington Post, following a confrontation with protesters, Rhodes asked Mike, who is Black, to field questions from the news media. Media coverage of the encounter from the Post, along with Sky News and the live-streamer Based Web Developer, shows that Jessica Watkins and Florida Oath Keeper Kenneth Harrelson, who both face conspiracy charges in the Jan. 6 insurrection, were present.

Also captured in the footage is George Douglas Smith Jr., leader of a North Carolina Oath Keepers group based in Columbus County, along the South Carolina line.

As an admin on the Oath Keepers, Columbus County Facebook page last June, Smith pledged that his leadership "will soon lay out our teams and start the training" that would make the chapter "a formidable fighting force capable of defeating the forces of evil that are intent on destroying our nation and murdering those of us that don't sumit [sic] to their evil schemes on bended knees."

In another post, Smith signaled his preoccupation with the 2020 election while warning that a Democratic victory would pose an existential threat.

"I'm confident as more people come to the realization that not only is our constitution in danger of destruction, their very lives will hang in the balance if the communist democrats and their army's blm and antifa take control of this country in November. There are not that many training opportunities from now until the election, there is nothing as important as the ability to survive!!!"

Smith could not be reached for comment for this story.

Smith confirmed to the News Reporter, a local newspaper in Columbus County, that the North Carolina Oath Keepers traveled by bus to the "Stop the Steal" rally headlined by President Trump at the Ellipse on Jan. 6. But he said they boarded the bus and returned to North Carolina instead of going to the Capitol. Afterwards, Smith said, his group unanimously voted to split from the Oath Keepers.

"The men of Columbus County will not be a part of anything that terrorized anybody or goes against law enforcement," Smith told the newspaper.

Smith acknowledged having met Caldwell in November, according to the report. According to a government filing, Caldwell texted an unidentified individual on Dec. 23 indicated that he had hosted "a bunch of the Oath Keepers from North Carolina" on his farm in northern Virginia "for the Million MAGA march," a Nov. 14 event that, along with a Dec. 12 rally, was a prelude to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Smith also told the News Reporter that "an individual up there in Ohio" named "Donovan" had called him. The government alleges that Donovan Crowl interacted with the North Carolina Oath Keepers prior to the insurrection.

Rhodes has said that he abandoned the plan to stage a quick reaction force on the eve of the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally. Rhodes told The Gateway Pundit that he and "Whip" discussed the matter the night before and decided that because they didn't expect President Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, "we don't want to leave the manpower outside DC, so we did not have a QRF on January 6th."

Since late October, Rhodes had been calling on Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act as a preemptive move against anticipated civil resistance if Trump had attempted to cling to power in defiance of the electoral certification.

In an interview with Alex Jones of InfoWars about a week before the election, Rhodes pledged that Oath Keepers would be staged outside DC, while hinting that they could find themselves at odds with the US military.

"Frankly, we're concerned about a Benghazi-style attack," he said. "That's why Oath Keepers will be posted outside of DC. We've got some of our best men working on a plan right now for where we're going to be. We'll make sure we're within range. Because I don't trust the Pentagon. I don't trust the brass. I don't even trust the secretary of defense to stand behind the president. And don't be surprised if you don't get the same kind of stand-down order you saw with Benghazi."

Speaking at the Stop the Steal/Jericho March in Washington DC on Dec. 12, Rhodes elaborated on his recommendation that Trump invoke the Insurrection Act — a move that has been widely rejected by legal experts and military leaders as an illegal power grab.

"He needs to free Julian Assange and put him in charge of doing a data dump to display to all of you all of the skeletons out of the closet into the streets," Rhodes said. "Show the world who the traitors are. And then use the Insurrection Act to drop the hammer on them. And all of us veterans who swore that oath: Until you're age 65, you can be called up as the militia to support and defend the Constitution.

"He needs to know from you that you are with him, that if he does not do it now while he is commander-in-chief, we're going to have to do it ourselves later in a much more desperate, much more bloody civil war," Rhodes continued.

While planning for a heavily armed quick reaction force poised to supply weapons for an escalation of hostilities on Jan. 6 poses a host of unanswered questions, recent court filings increasingly tie Rhodes to the alleged conspiracy.

While Rhodes has roundly rejected claims that Oath Keepers engaged in a conspiracy, communications referenced in the latest superseding indictment against 10 defendants indicate Rhodes was in close contact with at least one of them at the time of the assault.

The government says Rhodes placed a call to Kelly Meggs, the Florida leader, that lasted about 15 seconds at 2:15 p.m. Then, according to the government, Meggs called Rhodes at 2:32 p.m. and spoke for one minute and 27 seconds. Three minutes later, according to the government, Meggs, Watkins, Crowl and five others formed a "stack" that "maneuvered in an organized and practiced fashion up the steps on the east side of the Capitol — each individual keeping with at least one hand on the shoulder of the other in front of them."

At the top of the steps, the government said, "the stack joined and supported the crowd that was pushing forward toward the doors, assaulting the officers guarding the doors, throwing objects and spraying chemical towards the officers and the doors, and pulling violently on the doors."

At about 2:40 p.m., according to the government, "the crowd breached the doors," and the Oath Keepers "forcibly entered the Capitol building."

'The mask slips': Proud Boys joining white supremacists in 'White Lives Matter' rallies across the US

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White supremacists on Telegram are organizing a series of simultaneous rallies under the banner of "White Lives Matter" in major American cities scheduled for April 11, with active participation and promotion in some locales by members of the Proud Boys.

The rallies mark a rare instance of overt white nationalists openly mobilizing in the streets since the constituent organizations of the violent 2017 Unite the Right rally were severely hobbled the following year by sustained opposition in the streets from antifascist counter-protesters, litigation, infighting and organizational dysfunction. For the Proud Boys, whose members are facing serious federal charges for conspiracy to disrupt the transfer of executive power during the assault on the US Capitol, participation in the "White Lives Matter" rallies reflects a brazen determination to maintain a street presence and an apparent diminishing concern about being branded as racists.

The @whitelivesmattermarch channel that created the framework for local racists to organize dozens of spinoff rallies was launched on the social media platform Telegram on March 25. The rallying cause of the simultaneous demonstrations — "to raise awareness for whites being the victims of massive interracial crime" — is a false claim that lies at the heart of white supremacist propaganda. In a "Q&A" post, the anonymous user behind the @whitelivesmattermarch channel directs potential supporters interested in learning "more about anti-White hate" to another channel that is comprised solely of items relating homicides and other violent crimes with photos of white victims and Black perpetrators.

The specific rallies are organized by locals creating new Telegram channels using the initials of states or cities. In some cases, the channels for local rallies appear to be little more than trial balloons to gauge local interest. The creator of the @WLMSouthCarolina channel, launched on March 25, posted: "Lets [sic] get a count of where everyone is, comment your city." As of Tuesday, the channel had picked up 24 subscribers, but no one had commented. Among the more active channels, Ohio and Oregon have attracted around eight unique users calling out their hometowns to try to settle on a central gathering place.

In a channel set up for the DC-Maryland-Virginia region, two self-identified Proud Boys users eagerly talked up the rally. Others in the chat openly identified as white nationalists through their words, usernames or catchphrases in their Telegram bios. "I am a Fascist," wrote a user named "James Dagny," who also shared a documentary about American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell in the chat. A user named "Blaine" chose the Nazi slogan "Blood & Soil" for their bio. Someone whose username celebrates the gas used by the Nazis to murder Jews in gas chambers during the Holocaust, wrote, "I'm in."

In the chat, a Proud Boy account under the username "Joe Bonadio" responded to the self-identified fascist user by commenting, "I'm with ya!"

Another Proud Boy account under the username "HEFF" commented, "#fuckantifa proudboys will be the there in plain clothes or not."

Hampton Russel Oulette, the president of the Northern Virginia chapter of the Proud Boys, posted in response to HEFF: "POYB." The acronym stands for "Proud of your boy" and is used by the gang as a salute or signal of approval.

Oulette, whose Telegram handle is "GOV.HAM-OMLETTE," told Raw Story in a Telegram message that he personally doesn't think the "White Lives Matter" rallies are "a good look."

"But I'll do whatever my brothers decided to do," he wrote. "I've voiced my opinion but loyal to my guys so its [sic] it's up in the air. I personally don't wanna March with any hate groups or be associated."

He added, "There are other chapters going."

Oulette claimed to not know who is organizing the rallies.

"Was just asked to monitor it… so we are not caught off guard to what's going on in our state," he wrote somewhat cryptically. "We like to know who's doing what here… we have an event coming up just not 100% on the day."

The DC-area Proud Boys are not the only ones interested in the rallies.

A user named "DIRT2º posted in the discussion hosted by "White Lives Matter – 04/11": "Need someone from bama that I can help organize."

User "BACONndEGGS," whose avatar includes the initials W-L-M inside the Proud Boys' traditional wreath, hailed a message from the host channel declaring that "white people will not bow down" with the Proud Boys salute: "Uhuru."

Since their founding in 2016, Proud Boys leaders and rank-and-file members have strenuously objected to being described as "white supremacist" despite some members including Chairman Enrique Tarrio participating in the Unite the Right rally and rallying alongside neo-Confederate groups. But Megan Squire, a computer scientist at Elon University who monitors right-wing extremist groups, said it's not all that surprising to see them now openly associating with white nationalists.

"To use one of their phrases, 'The mask slips,'" Squire said. "Underneath, they are who they are, and this is who they are. The question is, were the Proud Boys always that way or did it happen halfway through? A lot of times these guys will say, 'You pushed us to this, with all the de-platforming.' That's patently false. The history is the Proud Boys have been promoting very thinly veiled white supremacy. They called it 'Western chauvinism.' It's white supremacy — shocker. Now, we can call it what it is, and they can call it what it is."

The "Black-on-white crime" narrative promoted by the "White Lives Matter" rallies is a timeworn appeal by white power groups.

In a 2018 article for the Southern Poverty Law Center, Senior Research Analyst Cassie Miller called it "the biggest lie in the white supremacist propaganda playbook." A large part of its staying power is that it's deeply rooted in the American psyche. As Miller pointed out, false and harmful claims about Black people being inherently violent have formed the core justification for "slavery, lynching, Jim Crow and various forms of mass incarceration."

In recent decades, the "Black-on-white crime" falsehood has received a signal boost from Jared Taylor, a Yale-educated academic who produced The Color of Crime: Race, Crime and Violence in America, a 1999 report that was updated in 2005 and again in 2016. Taylor drew his statistics from the "1994 Crime Victimization Survey released by the US Department of Justice, but Miller noted that Taylor's claim that crime has a racial and biological basis overlooks the obvious culprit.

"On average, African Americans were — and remain — far poorer and more likely to live in disadvantaged neighborhoods than whites," Miller wrote. "Concentrated poverty has a criminogenic effect: lack of access to jobs, increased idle time and poorer educational opportunities all increase one's chances of engaging in criminal behavior, and the effect is the same for Black and white people. One study released three years before The Color of Crime, found that when sociologists controlled for structural disadvantages, there were significant differences between crime rates in Black and white communities."

Another fallacy promoted by Taylor over the past several decades, which is being recycled through the "White Lives Matter" planning chats, is that crimes committed by Black perpetrators against white victims uniformly qualify as "hate crimes," but Miller noted that "few would meet the FBI's hate crime definition of an 'offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity."

The slogan "White Lives Matter" was originally promoted in neo-Nazi circles in 2015 and 2016, as an obvious cooptation of Black Lives Matter. Although lacking originality, it simultaneously mocks Black people killed by the police and substitutes white people as supposed victims.

In a video circulated by the @whitelivesmattermarch host channel, a bearded white man dressed in a hunting jacket intones, "For far too long, the media has ignored some of the most heinous and grotesque crimes committed against our people." After a standard recitation of white victims of violence by Black perpetrators, the narrators concludes, "These are a few names that most people've never heard of. Yet you'll hear 'George Floyd' and all these other people who're criminals. You know, everybody knows who Trayvon Martin was. Everybody knows who Breonna Taylor was. So why does the world know their names, but not the name of our victims?"

The words are uncannily similar to some of the writing in a manifesto by Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white man who murdered nine Black parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, SC in 2015.

Roof wrote in his manifesto that the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin prompted him "type in the words 'black on white crime' into Google, and I have never been the same since that day." The search led him to the Council of Conservative Citizens, one of the many white supremacist groups whose website included a section on white victims of crimes committed by Black people.

"There were pages and pages of these brutal black on White murders," Roof wrote. "I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored."

Another video shared by the White Lives Matter host channel displays text reading, "The great replacement can no longer be called a 'conspiracy theory.'" White supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Va. in August 2017 chanted, "You will not replace us." Brenton Tarrant, who murdered 51 Muslim worshipers in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019, entitled his manifesto "The Great Replacement." The white supremacists who carried out massacres in a synagogue in Poway, Calif. and Walmart in El Paso, Texas that same year likewise referenced a "great replacement" in their respective manifestoes.

Despite hijacking the "Black Lives Matter" slogan, the "Q&A" message for the rallies disavows any equivalency, rejecting the idea that the rallies are "BLM for White People."

"Marxism is at the core of the anti-White narrative," the document states. "The principles that WLM should follow are those of God, Nature and Nobleness. WLM is a glimpse into the glorious past of White Europeans."

Comically, some of the members of the public chats are unintentionally transparent about their desire to clean up their image in the hope of broadening their appeal.

"The test will be if we are able to get the masses of people who attended the StopTheSteal rallies to come," a user named "Culture War Criminal" wrote in one of the discussion chats. "If we can pull this off and advocate White advocacy this will be a massive step forward."

Another user named "Project Algiz" advised: "Also, remember to keep it optical. True. But optical. For example, I made a decent video yesterday but removed it because I said 'n*****' twice. While I think of us can appreciate this sentiment, it will certainly chase away fence sitters and would-be supporters due to us confirming their suspicions that we may be a 'raAaAaAacist organization.'"

But other users appear to be completely unconcerned about optics.

The White Lives Matter Philadelphia channel celebrates former Mayor Frank Rizzo as "the only White Man who stood up openly here against the Black Riots instigated by Jews in order to destroy White Philadelphia and America!" The channel includes posts quoting from the 1940 Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew, photos of police officers using a German shepherd to attack a Black protesters and "American Nazi Stormtroopers in Center City" Philadelphia in 1962. A post with maps showing demographic changes in Philadelphia from 1940 to 1960 pledges: "The Whites can and will reclaim Philadelphia from these Jews and then we can make this city and country all White again."

The open chats in the planning threads for the White Lives Matter rallies appear to be heavily infiltrated by antifascists posing as Nazis and urging people to stay home to avoid doxing. The infiltration is causing justifiable paranoia and making it difficult to tell who is who.

In the group chat for Anchorage, Alaska, the host affirmed a user named "Jedi counselor" on Monday.

"I share the same sentiment as you my friend," the host wrote. "I'm tired of the cowardice."

"Jedi counselor" replied: "Right and we need to make an army and take back the west coast and take this matter into our own hands."

Then they added: "It's time to say fuck the cops because they are not doing anything about [it]."

Proud Boys wreak havoc on DC as Mike Flynn, Sebastian Gorka and others rally Donald Trump loyalists

Fueled by the words of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, conspiracy-monger Alex Jones and other luminaries of Trump-sphere, thousands of Trump loyalists poured into Washington, DC on Saturday, pledging defiance to an orderly transfer of presidential power and looking for opportunities to clash with antifascists.

Police blocked off the streets several blocks back from the National Mall and Freedom Plaza — the two focal points of the Trump rallies — causing traffic to snarl and impeding ambulances from passing through.

Flynn, who served as Trump's first national security advisor and who received a pardon from the president after pleading guilty to the crime of lying to the FBI, was one of several speakers who described the effort to overturn Joe Biden's election as a "spiritual battle" at the event dubbed "Stop the Steal" and "Jericho March."

As President Trump buzzed over the National Mall in Marine One, Flynn lambasted the news media, echoing his former boss' scorn.

"Every time they throw an arrow at him, it is an arrow directed at us, and we cannot allow that," Flynn said. "We cannot allow that in this country. We the people have to continue to fight back."

Another speaker, conservative radio host Eric Mataxas, also engaged in media demonization. Spotting another helicopter prior to Marine One, he said, "That's the media?

We need to shoot that down. Anybody got a bazooka?"

Weaving together the martial religious language of the Old Testament with Trumpist conspiracy-speak, Flynn concluded: "I'm gonna use a metaphor, because Jericho — we're inside the walls of the Deep State. There is evil and there is corruption, and there's light and truth. We're going to get to the light and we're going to get to the truth. And us inside of this barricade, we're gonna knock those walls down."

Earlier this month, Flynn retweeted a press release calling on Trump to declare martial law and temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of the elections, and have the military oversee a new election. Flynn signaled his approval with the hashtag #WeThePeople. And in an essay published on Thursday, Flynn characterized the incoming Biden administration as "tyrants" whose plan is "to eliminate dissent, subdue any criticism, and outlaw those who do not submit unconditionally to the dictatorship of the New World Order."

Aside from a few tweets expressing gratitude to his supporters, Trump's Twitter feed on Saturday featured a stew of resentment at various actors that have refused to cooperate with his scheme to overturn the election: The Supreme Court (for declining yesterday to consider a challenge filed by the Texas attorney general), the Republican governors in Georgia and Arizona (for affirming their states' electoral votes for Biden), and Attorney General Bill Barr (for not speaking publicly about a purported investigation into Hunter Biden).

Sebastian Gorka, a podcast host and former White House strategist under Trump, swatted aside his former boss' continued failures to get traction in the courts to overturn the election during a speech at a separate March for Trump rally organized by Women for Trump organizer Amy Kremer.

"Let's be very clear," Gorka said. "The first thing I said last night when I heard the decision: 'Stop. Take a deep breath. Count to ten. Read the Bible and pray. Because we are on the side of truth.'"

Back at the National Mall, Alex Jones of InfoWars, pledged unyielding resistance to a Biden administration.

"We will never back down to the Satanic pedophile globalist New World Order and their walking-dead reanimated corpse Joe Biden," he said. "And we will never recognize him…. So, I don't know who's going to the White House in 38 days, but I sure know this: Joe Biden is a globalist will be removed one way or another.

Trump supporters carrying American flags roamed in small bands between the National Mall and Freedom Plaza throughout the day. Supporters held a giant American flag on Pennsylvania Avenue outside Trump International Hotel, and enthusiastically posed for selfies with a Trump impersonator. Dozens of Proud Boys in tactical gear massed outside Hotel Harrington in the morning and roved through downtown.


In the early afternoon, Proud Boys knocked a man to the ground and began punching and kicking him on the National Mall near the Washington Monument, according to video showed on Twitter. Witnesses described an altercation involving Proud Boys in front of the Army Navy Club on 17th Street. Police completely blocked off Black Lives Matter Plaza to keep the Proud Boys and antifascists separated. Video shared on Twitter shows the police using a chemical spray on Proud Boys seeking to antagonize antifascists.


This story is developing.

‘We will exterminate you’: Proud Boys and other right-wing Trump diehards confront counter-protesters at Raleigh rally

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A band of COVID deniers, neo-Confederates and pro-Trump diehards, augmented by a 50-strong Proud Boy security detail, marched around the Governor's Mansion in downtown Raleigh on Saturday, firing up a far-right coalition to carry on the fight as their president faces the reality of leaving office.

The post-Thanksgiving rally was co-organized by Joshua Flores of Stop the Steal NC and Latinos for Freedom, who brought in Reopen NC to help him promote it on Facebook. But the Proud Boys — referenced by Flores as his "private security" in a Facebook Live video two days prior to the event — took the most prominent position in the rally as they spread out along a block of East Jones Street and taunted antifascist counter-protesters.

Flores had promoted the Thanksgiving potluck as a family-friendly event, and urged attendees to not engage with counter-protesters, warning that they would be asked to leave if they failed to honor the request, and adding that "the Proud Boys" would also "have the authority to kick you out." He also suggested, "Try not to use major cuss words, if you don't mind."

The request was almost farcical considering the Proud Boys' history of inciting conflict through profanity-laced taunts that are often barbed with misogyny and homophobia.

True to form, a Proud Boy named Jeremy Bertino picked up a bullhorn a couple minutes after the official 11:30 a.m. start time and addressed the counter-protesters across the street.

"America will never be a communist nation — never!" Bertino said as fellow Proud Boys lined the sidewalk wearing tactical vests and trademark yellow and black gear. "Your side will lose. We will exterminate you like the rats you are…. Exterminate you!"


Proud Boys at COVID-denial/pro-Trump rally in Raleigh, NC youtu.be

Bertino kicked off a chant of, "Fuck antifa."

Another Proud Boy wore a patch with the letters "S-B-S-B," a reference to Trump's infamous election-debate directive: "Proud Boys — stand back and stand by."

Bertino wore a patch with the letters "R-W-D-S" — short for "right-wing death squads." Mass killing of political opponents is a theme widely promoted by Proud Boys and other far-right extremists who celebrate Chilean dictator Augosto Pinochet's grisly practice during the 1970s of disappearing opposition activists by dropping them out of helicopters.

Previewing the in-real-life showdown on Saturday, Bertino posted a photo of North Carolina antifascist Lindsay Ayling on the Parler social media platform, encouraging followers to make a contest out of Photoshopping her image, while making a violent and misogynistic claim that "she has an affinity for alpha males and helicopters" and hash-tagging the post #antifawhore.

Bertino told Raw Story he was merely "trolling" Ayling, but the Proud Boys' goofball presentation — naming cereals during their initation rite, for example — conveniently provides plausible deniability for any expressed fantasies of violence.

Bertino also denied that his "extermination" remarks were personally directed at the counter-protesters, although his own words say otherwise.

Throughout the four-hour event, unidentified men with bullhorns stood behind the Proud Boys and excoriated the counter-protesters.

"You guys are making lists," one of the men said. "We're making lists, too." He added a reference to "9mm" ammunition that was otherwise inaudible. Another time, the man addressed the counter-protesters, saying, "You are in a very dangerous position. You are in the vast minority." Bertino told Raw Story he did not hear the comment and could not identify the speaker.

Another unidentified man told the counter-protesters: "Donald Trump has stirred the pot. You think you've captured him. But all you've done is woken us up. You think this is gonna end? No!" The speaker also called the counter-protesters lazy and accused them of not understanding Christianity.

The right-wing group, which broadly expressed defiance of COVID restrictions and loyalty to Donald Trump, out-numbered counter-protesters almost two to one.

Drawn from Raleigh activists who have been protesting against police brutality since late May, along with antiracists and antifascists who are veterans of efforts to remove Confederate monuments, the counter-protesters responded in kind with taunts toward the Proud Boys. One sign held by a counter-protester read, "Proud Boy Thugs: 21st Century Nazi Brown Shirts." Another showed a depiction of a Confederate flag, a swastika and the name "Trump," concluding, "3 generations of losers."

"For individuals to still be conducting 'Stop the Steal' protest/rallies essentially 25 days after Election Day even after Gov. [Roy] Cooper has been declared the winner is in the same vein as the Confederate supporters still showing up places waving Confederate flags," Kerwin Pittman, a field organizer with Emancipate NC, told Raw Story. "They just can't accept the fact they lost. They must be called out on their denial and confronted when they attempt to sow seeds of intimidation in any community."

Pittman was appointed by Cooper, a Democrat, to serve on the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice. Pittman served time in prison for first-degree murder, and he has been open about his past. All the same, North Carolina neo-Confederates never miss an opportunity to loudly confront him about his record, and on Saturday a detractor from Alamance County jeered Pittman, daring him to say the name of the man he killed.

Around 1 p.m., Tara LaRosa, an MMA fighter, led an advance team of Proud Boys into the street, with Bertino and others acting as marshals as the larger group of right-wing activists marched around the governor's residence. It's unclear whether they had a permit for the march.

The marchers chanted "Reopen NC," "No more masks," "We are the republic," and "Silent no more."

Reopen NC leader Ashley Smith and her husband, Adam Smith, addressed the crowd with a bullhorn at the entrance of the Governor's Mansion as the right-wing activists held the street, with tight security from the Proud Boys. At the direction of one of the co-organizers, the Proud Boys ejected two reporters, from Raw Story and INDY Week.

The right-wing activists staked out an alternate reality, with one woman insisting to reporters: "Donald Trump won the election."

Jay Thaxton, a North Carolina Proud Boy, blocked a reporter's camera. He said, "When you guys start writing real news, we won't have a problem with you."

A couple wearing shirts promoting QAnon — a conspiracy theory that posits Trump as a hero working beyond the scenes to vanquish an elite global cabal of pedophiles — strolled through the cordon of Proud Boys to join the rally. The man, who declined to give his name, told a reporter: "I pray that God would help you see both sides of the issue, not being right or left. We have a Bill of Rights."

Earlier in the rally, before the right-wing activists broke out covered dishes for their defiant potluck, Reopen NC leader Ashley Smith addressed them.

"I'm just so thankful to see so many patriots and people who love freedom and love America," she said. "Yes, we are here once again to stand in the face of tyranny and all that would destroy everything that we hold dear and love. And I'm here again to say, 'No, you cannot have my America. You cannot have my North Carolina.'

"Right now, we're going to have some food," Smith continued. "We're gonna hug our neighbors and say the Pledge [of Allegiance]."

In anticipation of Thanksgiving, on Nov. 10, Gov. Cooper issued an executive order limiting the number of people at indoor gatherings to no more than 10. On Nov. 23, he followed up with another executive order requiring masks in all public indoor settings.

As justification for the restrictions, the most recent executive order cited record high COVID-19 daily case counts and hospitalizations in North Carolina.

"We are at a critical point, and I am writing to update you on the worsening surge of COVID cases in our community and health system, and to share the actions we are taking," wrote Cone Health Chief Operating Officer Mary Jo Cagle in a memo to staff on Nov. 20.

Cone Health serves Greensboro, North Carolina's third largest city. Cagle said that during the previous week, the number of COVID patients in the hospital system leapt by almost 50 percent, from 95 to 142. She warned that the Green Valley facility, Cone's special COVID hospital, was nearing capacity.

Like the Proud Boys, Adam Smith, the husband of the Reopen leader, has expressed a willingness to resort to violence to uphold his belief system.

In May, he carried a rifle through downtown Raleigh while marching alongside a boogaloo-inspired group that flouted North Carolina's law against carrying dangerous weapons during a demonstration. The politically varied group included an array of Second Amendment hardliners, including a neo-Nazi, an avowed anarchist and self-described constitutionalists. One of the armed men who participated in the walks, Benjamin Ryan Teeter, is now facing federal charges of attempting to provide material support to Hamas.

In May, Adam Smith posted a Facebook Live video saying that people must be willing to kill, if necessary, to resist emergency orders — or what he described as "tyranny."

"But are we willing to kill people? Are we willing to lay down our lives?" he asked. "We have to say, 'Yes.' We have to say, 'Yes.' Is that violence. Is that terrorism? I'm not trying to strike fear in people by saying, 'I'm going to kill you.' I'm gonna say, 'If you bring guns, I'm gonna bring guns. If you're armed with this, we're going to be armed with this.'"

On Saturday, Lindsay Ayling, the antifascist activist, said she observed a Proud Boy point her out to Smith. Then, she said, Smith said, "Lindsay, I'm going to kill you."

Smith responded by text to Raw Story: "Of course I didn't say that!… That's ridiculous."

Ayling insisted that she heard the statement clearly and confirmed with another person that they heard it, too. She posted a video on Twitter showing Smith pointing in her direction and then wiggling his fingers in a motion that suggests pulling a trigger. Smith was standing next to Bertino at the time, and just before making the gesture, Smith yelled, "We are the people. We are the power."


As Trump's political and legal options for hanging onto the presidency evaporate, the Raleigh event and other rallies at state capitols are helping to maintain the tenuous alliance of violent nationalists, Christian-right extremists and conspiracy-mongers that are intent on preventing a left turn as Biden takes office. At the moment, much of that energy is focused on a planned pro-Trump rally on Dec. 12, two days before Biden's election is made official as states cast their electoral votes. The Proud Boys have promoted the event through their Telegram account, and the gathering is expected to be a reprise of the chaotic Millions for MAGA march on Nov. 14, which Proud Boys and other far-right groups treated as a moment of triumph.

Bertino stood at the side of Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio at the Washington Monument that night as Tarrio exulted after a clash with left-wing opponents.

"I mean, we practically cleaned the streets right there where they're sitting at BLM Plaza," Tarrio said. "They're corralled in, and there's like a hundred of 'em, when usually there's thousands of 'em. And you know who we have to thank for that?

"All of us," he continued. "And this right here shows you the power when we the right-wing unite, and we get together. And we don't bicker about stupid shit."

IT manager at NC State fingered in lawsuit as a Proud Boy who doxed thousands of left-wing activists

Dressed in a burgundy dress shirt, with a full beard and shoulder-length brown hair, and wearing a black felt hat, Chadwick Seagraves cut a striking figure as he stood on the steps of the Chapel Hill Courthouse in North Carolina in June 2017 and gave a hearty introduction to Augustus Sol Invictus. Seagraves' guest was a failed Florida US Senate candidate who was a rising star of the alt-right in the run-up to the violent Unite the Right rally.

The Chapel Hill gathering, billed as a free speech rally, was in reality a recruitment event for the Proud Boys and Fraternity of the Alt-Knight, a short-lived street-fighting formation that bridged the Proud Boys to the more ideologically extreme components of Unite the Right coalition. Seagraves, as allegedly revealed through his "Elias McMahone; A Heathen." Twitter account, was an active member of the Proud Boys since the early days when the group got active in North Carolina in 2017. What wasn't known then was that he was also a team manager in the technology support services office at NC State University in nearby Raleigh, where he is accused of digitally harassing at least one student activist through his anonymous Twitter account.

Earlier this week, the Anonymous Comrade Collective — a left-wing Twitter account that is, as its name indicates, anonymous — identified Seagraves as the instigator of a much more ambitious, if clumsy project. Files containing names and personal information for thousands of left-wing activists, primarily in Portland, Ore. and Asheville, NC, were published on social media and then circulated on far-right platforms on Nov. 10. The meta data for 1,446 out of 2,141 files pointed back to Seagraves, according to Anonymous Comrade Collective.

After some of the data was dribbled out on the /pol/ — Politically Incorrect channel on 4chan — a notorious forum for white supremacists — the boards lit up with messages from anonymous users fantasizing about violence.

"Good. Give us the list," one user wrote. "We will assemble a squad and start eliminating antifa one by one."

"Just dump the fucking list of names and addresses," another wrote. "It's time to go to war."

Another user issued a challenge: "Anons, hypothetically, if you lived in or around Portland, what would you do to help deal with the degenerate scum posted in this thread?"

And another bragged that an operation was already underway: "Active measures are being taken in both civic nationalist and national socialist and white nationalist groups. Buckle up."

Among those targeted by the data dump of personal information — commonly known as doxing — is Olivia Katbi Smith, co-chair of the Portland chapter of Democratic Socialists of America. Smith filed a lawsuit against Seagraves in Multnomah County for invasion of privacy on Thursday.

Smith said in an email to Raw Story that Seagraves intentionally shared information that he methodically collected on herself, friends, family and other Portland activists "in a way to incite emotional and physical harm.

"He also used my social media connections to fabricate a 'chart of antifa' that paints me as a high-value target," she added. "I have always been public about my involvement in the Democratic Socialists of America, and this person sensationalized that to make me a target. Since this information was posted, it has spread like wildfire across the most dangerous far-right corners of the internet, where anonymous cowards are saying unspeakable things and making horrific threats."

A separate tranche of personal information compiled in two PDFs entitled "Asheville NC Auntie Fa" parts 1 and 2 totaling 85 pages compiles social media screenshots and crude commentary on individuals in the western North Carolina city.

"It's kind of a dragnet," said Libertie Valance, a member of the Firestorm Book cooperative and one of the primary targets. "It's pretty clear that Chadwick got obsessed with a handful of people in Asheville, and mapped their social networks. It seems like he was looking for people who might be 'antifa' or anarchists. It seems like that means anyone who looks queer, trans or punk. It's clear there was particular vitriol for queer and trans people."

Valance said the leftist activist community in Asheville has been dealing with doxing since at least 2018.

"The way Chadwick's peers utilize these doxes and zero in on things like gender identity to try to emotionally destroy their targets in a way that some of us can brush off," they said, "but for others those are difficult issues. It's been pretty devastating."

Seagraves could not be reached for comment on this story.

NC State's non-discrimination policy prohibits harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, actual or perceived gender, and other protected categories. Seagraves earns a salary of $92,820, according to public information available through the UNC System. Mick Kulikowski, a spokesperson for NC State University, told Raw Story: "We've received multiple reports about his online behavior, and we're reviewing it."

The personal data allegedly assembled by Seagraves was shared on Twitter by a user named @Oto666Yamaguchi that is believed to be a different person. The bio for the @Oto666Yamaguchi account, which is now suspended, identified them as "pro NSDAP," an acronym for the German Nazi Party that was active from 1920 to 1945.

The tweet sent by @Oto666Yamaguchi on Nov. 10 suggested the activists' personal information was gleaned through a sophisticated interception. "For the last two months," the tweet says, "we've been wardriving antifa rioters, letting them associate with mobile honeypots to access the internet."

Contradicting that claim, a document entitled "Research Disclaimer" that is tucked into a zip file that includes the personal data states that the information was "gained from my mad OSINT skills" — a reference to open-source intelligence — "and their inept use of social media."

The note also describes the targeted individuals as "a completely unorganized conglomeration of people who Joe Biden has assured the American people are not a threat and not an organization." The note implausibly suggests, "This information is shared with other citizen journalists, and absolutely no harm should come to the subjects of this research from participating in lawful peaceful protests and free speech events."

The layer of separation between Seagraves and the person responsible for publishing the personal data on the internet is emblematic of the Proud Boys' arms-length relationship with white supremacy. The all-male Proud Boys describe themselves as a "western chauvinist" fraternal organization, eschewing language promoting white or European identity. The organization accepts men of all races, and along with gays, and its chairman is a person of color. The Proud Boys' most pronounced stance is its hostility towards "antifa" and Black Lives Matter.

The Proud Boys' mish-mash politics of civic nationalism and libertarianism has given the organization more room to maneuver than many of the more ideologically defined groups that emerged around the time of Trump's 2016 election. But the fluid relationship between the Proud Boys and its more ideological counterparts was on full display at the June 2017 "free speech" event in Chapel Hill.

A video obtained by antifascists in the Triangle area shows Seagraves introducing Invictus, a lawyer who espouses thinly veiled white supremacy and legally changed his name to the Latin phrase for "majestic unconquered son."

"If you've followed conservative politics at all, you've heard something about Augustus Sol Invictus," Seagraves said. He went to say he hadn't "planned on having someone like him come today because I didn't expect all these folks to come in from all over."

Taking the podium, Invictus said, "What's up, Chapel Hill? They call me 'the commie slayer,' and for good fucking reason."

Invictus ended his short speech by encouraging the small group of right-wingers in attendance to network with each other.

"So, meet people here, shake hands with each other, exchange names and numbers," Invictus said. "Join each other's organizations. Join the Alt-Knights of the Proud Boys, who are here with us today…. I'm one of the national organizers. So, if you want to sign up with us, please come on down."

The Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights was founded in 2017 by Kyle Chapman, who became a folk hero of the far-right after he armed himself with a stick and homemade shield and attacked leftists during a melee in Berkeley, Calif.

Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes reached out to Chapman after a Proud Boy launched a fundraiser to help cover Chapman's bail, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. McInnes hosted Chapman on his show, and later Chapman announced that he was founding the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights, which would be partnering with the Proud Boys with McInnes' "full approval."

Invictus became the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knight's second in command until his resignation in September 2017.

The Proud Boys publicly distanced themselves from Unite the Right, and managed to avoid the legal troubles and reputational damage experienced by explicitly white nationalist groups like League of the South and the now-defunct Traditionalist Worker Party. But the notorious gathering of white nationalists was organized by a former Proud Boy, Jason Kessler, and Invictus — a marquee name at the event — received a security escort by a Proud Boy named Shane Reeves. Invictus currently faces criminal charges of domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature and possessing a weapon during a violent crime in York County, in South Carolina.

Although Seagraves appears to have kept his far-right activism a secret to his colleagues, some of whom expressed shock on Twitter when his doxing activities came to light earlier this week, he attended a Second Amendment rally with other North Carolina Proud Boys in Raleigh in April 2018. Under the cloak of anonymity of his "Elias McMahone" Twitter account, he was more forthcoming, writing in October 2018: "My mother knows I'm a Proud Boy. She thanks me for standing up for America. She's old school and appreciates masculinity."

In November 2019, using the "Elias McMahone" Twitter account, Seagraves allegedly called out an NC State student on Twitter. He wrote, "This young man supports #jihadists & affiliates with #Antifa. He is a student at #NCState. Here you will see him posting an intimidating message insinuating violence to a conservative student while also claiming to be a victim."

The post that attracted Seagraves' attention said, "These posts are dedicated to the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan."

The student, who spoke to Raw Story on condition of anonymity, said the statement was a reference to Rambo III, adding that he assumed everyone would get the joke. He said the tweet was in reference to an incident in which a conservative student named Jack Bishop accused a friend of assault during an altercation in the Free Expression Tunnel. Bishop, who is the son of Republican US Rep. Dan Bishop, and other members of Turning Point USA were spray-painting advertisements for an upcoming "Culture Wars" event with founder Charlie Kirk and Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law.

"I was pissed off at the conservatives," the student said. "So, of course I was going to fight TPUSA coming to campus."

An internecine feud on the far right made Culture Wars events a magnet for extremists. Nick Fuentes and his America First group, also known as the "groypers," stalked the events with the intent of flummoxing the organizers with embarrassing questions and radicalizing their audience to a more nationalistic position. Some members of Patriot Front, an avowedly fascist group that spun out of one of the component organizations at Unite the Right, admired Fuentes' success at undercutting the more moderate flank of the right-wing, and they saw Fuentes as a potential pipeline for recruitment. Patriot Front members discussed leaving their propaganda at campuses in advance of the Culture Wars events, and one member showed up at an event in Florida, according to private chats from the group that were recently leaked.

After seeing the "Elias McMahone" account tweet about him, the student direct-messaged him to try to figure out who he was. The message in response gave him pause.

"Good," "McMahone" wrote, "because the pic you posted from the window in East Village above the roundabout gave away a location. That's why I'm trying to help you see that getting involved in direct action isn't good for a smart guy like you. Just be careful what online stuff you get into when everyone's all excited about a protest and wearing black It's a serious thing. I'm just trying to look out for you."

The student also noticed that the "McMahone" account had added him to a list of Twitter accounts entitled "Proud AuntieFah Commies," and saw that he was identified on his own account as a member of the Proud Boys.

"Did I realize he had tweeted that and painted a target on my back? Oh yeah," the student said. "I just didn't realize I was dealing with the president of the Proud Boys until I DM-ed him a couple days later."

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