Extremism Roundup: Jan. 6 and Beyond
The spectre of right-wing extremism in America has become a much more pressing issue for newsrooms since the events of January 6th. Here is our overview of the events and the key insight you’ll need to help contextualize your reporting.
This Past Week
The Storming of the Capitol
- Background: On January 6th, a massive coalition of far-right groups descended on Washington, D.C. This is not the first time this has happened; various protests have occurred in the capital as part of the “Stop the Steal” movement. The term Stop the Steal was first coined by Amy Kremer, a former figure within the Tea Party who created a Facebook group that went by the name. Kremer’s group was banned by Facebook on November 5th due to the misinformation it was spreading. Kremer’s current organization, Women for America First, has secured permits for every D.C. MAGA protest since the election. Kremer is not to be confused with Ali Alexander though, the grifter and former Republican operative who started the official Stop the Steal campaign. Ali was a popular figure within conservative social media, and has spent his time since the election traveling the country to hold protests with the infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and sometimes even Anti-Semite Nick Fuentes.
- What to know: The day resulted in 5 fatalities. Three of these deaths can be attributed to medical emergencies experienced inside the crowd. The other two are Brian Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer beaten to death by the mob, and Ashli Babbitt, the QAnon-believing woman who was shot by security while trying to force her way into the Capitol building. Along with this, multiple arrests have been made in the wake of the attempted putsch. In a Tuesday press conference, the FBI director announced the creation of a task force specifically for the purpose of tracking and charging participants in January 6th’s events. On Jan 13, the house has voted to impeach President Donald Trump due to his role in inciting this violence, specifically his speech at the Ellipse during the beginning of the rally.
Social Media Pushback to Fascist Organizing
- Parler: Parler is an “uncensored” version of social media founded in 2018 by John Matze. Like many other social media platforms that focused on their “free speech” bona fides, Parler quickly became a cesspool of hate speech and violence. Much of the insurrection on the 6th was planned and openly discussed on the site. Due to this, the hosting services which supported Parler rescinded their platforms.
- Where do Parler users go? Parler had millions of users at the time when it was shut down, so where do they all go now? The website Gab is one destination that seems to have attracted former Parler users. As of 4 days ago, Gab’s CEO claimed that the website was gaining 10,000 users per hour. Gab is probably best known for its infamous popular users. Robert Bowers, the Tree of Life synagogue shooter, was a regular poster on the website. It’s filled to the brim with neo-nazis and white supremacists. This will undoubtedly fuel the further radicalization of many Trump supporters. Another platform that has gained countless users is Telegram. This encrypted messaging app has cultivated its very own nazi subculture for years now, known as “terrorgram.” Just the same as the migration, this sharp increase in those exposed to the accelerationist ideas of “Terrogram” will further radicalize people.
Inauguration week and beyond
Planned Militia Action
- How to report on a militia: One of the most visually striking groups that will be at state capitols everywhere on the 20th are local militias. These groups have made their intentions very clear on the internet, state capitals in every state should expect armed groups to show up anywhere between January 17th and 20th. For those who have not reported extensively on these groups before, make sure not to trust anything they say. Many groups will paint a picture of their intentions and purpose that can be easily debunked by identifying iconography on their clothing. These groups recruit new members intentionally through obfuscating the most extreme ideas that they have. If you interview a member or leader, do not publish what they tell you until you have fully confirmed it.
What to read/listen to this week:
- Far Right Rallies at Capitols Across US Show DC Mob Was Not an Isolated Incident – Truthout
- The Journey of Ashli Babbitt – Bellingcat
- Madness on Capitol Hill – The Nation
- 77: Capitol Coup – I Don’t Speak German (Podcast)
- Get more Extremism support
- Election SOS First Aid Kit: Misinformation
- Election SOS First Aid Kit: Messaging on Violence