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Jane Lytvynenko and
Posted on Jan 6, 2021 at 5:38 pm ET
The supporters of President Donald Trump who fought in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday had planned openly for weeks, both on mainstream social media and on the pro-Trump Internet. On forums like TheDonald, a niche website created after Reddit banned the subreddit of the same name, they promised violence against lawmakers, police and journalists if Congress didn’t reject the 2020 election results.
In an interaction to four Days ago, a person on TheDonald asked, « What if Congress ignores the evidence? »
On the pro-Trump social media website Parler, the chat app Telegram and other corners of the far right internet was about the Discussed Capitol Hill rally, where Trump spoke as a catalyst for a violent uprising. They used these forums to plan an in-sight riot they carried out on Wednesday afternoon and forced Congress to flee its chambers when it met to confirm the election results.
« Extremists have for weeks repeatedly expressed their intention to take part in the January 6 protests and brazenly expressed their desire for chaos and violence online, « said Jared Holt, a visiting researcher at DFRLab. « What we saw is the manifestation of this violent online rhetoric in real danger. »
« The earliest call we got specifically on our radar today was a militia movement chat room talking about it, » « to be ready for blood if nothing changes for Trump, » said Holt.
However, law enforcement seemed unprepared for the scale of violence on Wednesday. The Capitol Police were quickly overwhelmed and dramatically inferior to Trump supporters. While thousands of National Guard troops were stationed across Washington DC during the Black Lives Matter protests, the DC National Guard was not deployed until Wednesday after the Capitol boundaries were breached.
Hundreds of extremist posts discussed bringing in Firearms in violation of Washington, DC law. Still, people showed guns they’d brought with them.
« All that crap of not bringing guns to DC has to stop, » read a post Tuesday with more than 5,000 positive votes. « This is America. Fuck DC, it’s constitutional. Bring your damn guns. »
According to Advance Democracy, a nonprofit research organization, every corner of the social web signaled impending violence in the days leading up to the uprising.
« On TheDonald, more than 50% of the top posts on January 4, 2021 about the certification of the electoral college on January 6, included unmoderated calls for violence in the top 5 responses, » the organization noted.
« Armed with a rifle, handgun, 2 knives and as much ammunition as you can carry, » said a post on the website.
This was also the case with Parler, noted ADI. An account with the Names No Trump No Peace #GoTime posted a GIF with a noose and a caption that read, « Who would you like to see » shipped « first? 1) Nancy Pelosi 2) John Roberts 3) Pence 4) other (please name) me leaned over to Nancy, but it may have to be pence. ”(Two Days after this post, a livestream of the violent mob in front of the Congress showed them singing “Hang Mike Pence”.
Calls to violence were easy to find even on popular social media channels like Twitter and TikTok. According to Advanced Democracy, more than half of QAnon-related accounts on Twitter – around 20,800 – mentioned January 6th, although the majority of posts did not specifically call for violence.
« No wonder the president said the 6th January in DC was going to be wild. @LlinWood just told us that many of our politicians rape and kill children. You will not be able to walk down the street, « a post said.
The night before the protests even calls for violence were heard. « Tomorrow – I don’t even like to say it because I’m being arrested – I’ll say it. Tomorrow we have to go to the Capitol, » said a man on a livestream of the white supremacist Baked Alaska, a right-wing internet troll whose real name is Tim Gionet who once worked briefly for BuzzFeed. The next day, Gionet was sitting in a Senate office after storming the building as part of the mob.
On Facebook, a group called the Red State Secession gathered almost 8,000 members. The group sent People to a website that offered travel routes to DC and made memes available to post on social media.
« I think it’s going to be a literal war that day, » said one commenter, according to the Daily Beast. « Where we storm offices and physically remove and even kill all DC traitors and take back the country. « A Jan 4th post on the website with a picture with the words » Pepe Army « and » Stop the Steal « garnered 5,500 positive votes. » Sto poke the theft and steal the stealer, « was the top comment.
Jane Lytvynenko is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and lives in Toronto, Canada. PGP Fingerprint: A088 89E6 2500 AD3C 8081 BAFB 23BA 21F3 81E0 101C.
Molly Hensley-Clancy is a policy reporter for BuzzFeed News and lives in Washington, DC.
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