The far-right movement that helped occupy the U.S. Capitol last week hopes to spark more violence across the United States before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated, anti-hate group Southern Poverty Law has warned. Center at a press conference Friday.
Fringe groups, including white nationalists, militias and conspiracy theorists, have been unified by the desire to keep President Donald Trump in power and the perceived censorship following Trump’s suspension from social media platforms and the Unhosting the right-hand replacement of Twitter Talking.
These groups assemble online and plan armed protests in all 50 state capitals. “They share tactics and target lists, they say they are ready to fight and kill in Trump’s name. And there is every reason to take their word for it, ”SPLC President Margaret Huang said at the press conference.
The mob of rioters that entered Capitol Hill on Jan.6 after a Trump rally reportedly bought into a flawed theory, repeated by the president and his allies, that voter fraud resulted in Biden’s victory at the polls.
Rioters stormed the Capitol as lawmakers certified Biden’s victory in a joint session of Congress. This gave a first impression that Trump supporters have gone too far after the president “incited” an insurgency, according to lawmakers who impeached him a second time.
But as details emerge, it looks like there has been more planning and deadly goals. Federal officials are now alleging rioters were planning to kidnap lawmakers and injure Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump disavowed the violence and claimed those who engaged in the riot could not be his supporters.
Five died from the riot and more than 80 were arrested.
Amid heightened surveillance, far-right groups are increasingly turning to encrypted messaging apps to publicize their views and their plan, said Michael Edison Hayden, investigative journalist and spokesperson of the SPLC, during the press conference.
Hayden said he saw “the rhetoric accelerate” in the wake of the Capitol riot.
Neo-Nazi groups and members of the far right use rhetoric similar to that of armed groups like al-Qaeda or ISIL (ISIL), [they] should be comfortable leaving their body behind, ”continued Hayden.
A rhetoric Hayden encountered warned people to attend protests in Washington, DC, where they would face “huge obstacles not present on January 6”.
New: Extremists face obstacles to mount an attack similar to 1/6 and spread out their potential targets.
The most disturbing trend is that rhetoric has escalated and different factions are uniting around shared grievances.
– Michael Edison Hayden (@MichaelEHayden) January 14, 2021
The National Guard deployed more than 20,000 troops to the U.S. capital amid threats of violence ahead of Biden’s inauguration on January 20, and federal authorities are involved in a nationwide investigation to apprehend those implicated in the violence.
Still, the possibility of political violence in Washington, DC and across the country is still a concern, Hayden warned.
Hayden also spoke of the situation in state capitals: “There is a real tidal wave
chat by showing up at these places.
Hayden saw maps of buildings in the state capital with “little marks” on encrypted apps as a way to “broadcast” to the types of people who would attend armed and pro-Trump rallies, which they “ are ready for them ”.
But the rhetoric isn’t limited to crypto services, according to Media Matters for America, a nonprofit that monitors misrepresentation in the media.
Media Matters has found evidence of a growing conspiracy theory on TikTok, a popular social media video-sharing platform, that martial law is declared across the United States.
Martial law is governed by the military, of which Trump is currently the commander-in-chief. Some of the videos featured in Media Matters’ report on the theory contain pro-Trump slogans.
Since the occupation of the Capitol, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have permanently suspended Trump’s personal accounts. Amazon stopped hosting Speak, the Conservatives’ “free speech” platform, Monday.
Amazon lawyers have claimed in court hearings that the site is presenting appeals to assassinate Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, members of the media and others.
There is an unprecedented level of cooperation between a myriad of far-right groups and increased support from politicians, who are able to rally under the pretext of being censored after suspensions by social media giants, Hayden explained.
Moreover, the idea that the election was stolen from Trump is “parallel” to the white nationalist idea that liberal elites are stealing white America, he said. White nationalist groups, many of whom disowned Trump after he was elected, have started recruiting Trump supporters on crypto apps.
Members of QAnon believe a wide range of conspiracy theories that focus on the belief that Trump was chosen to defeat a cabal of liberal elites, including politicians, who harvest the blood of trafficked children to stay young.
These theories were credited by elected officials. Other officials have touted electoral fraud plots, which were embraced by QAnon adherents and other fringe groups.
There is an “anti-democratic and far-right sector of the GOP, which is difficult to quantify,” Hayden told Al Jazeera at the press conference. “They’re in bed with white nationalists, but they might not be white nationalists. This combination is really scary.
Hayden hoped that members of the Republican Party would do what was necessary to stop a unifying far right.
“This will require very aggressive actions on the part of the politicians who helped enable this, or at least the people who enabled these politicians,” Hayden concluded.