Bay Area Proud Boy Also Created Fake Antifa Content on Facebook
Facebook posts from last year show that a Bay Area Proud Boys member created a fake Antifa video with the intention of smearing antifascists online.
On May 8, 2017, Jesse Ryan of the Bay Area Proud Boys organization wrote on Facebook that a video of him posing as an antifascist was being “shared across all of social media.”
He encouraged his followers to continue sharing the video because “the more people who think it’s real, the more we make ANTIFA look retarded!”
I was unable to find an original copy of the video (i.e. published by Ryan himself). However, on May 10, 2017, a pro-Second Amendment page uploaded a video that I believe is the one Ryan posted on Facebook.
In the video, Jesse Ryan assumes the name of “John Ross,” a member of a “local Antifa movement.”
“I just bought a new gun and I’m going to be taking it with me to my next rally,” he says before showcasing a “magmum” firearm that will “protect me from any Trump supporters that want to hurt me.”
On February 13, 2018, Ryan said that his video of him “acting as ANTIFA last year is going crazy right now.”
“People really think I’m in ANTIFA and hold MAGMUMS.”
On February 15, Ryan reiterated that a lot of people think he’s an antifascist because of the video: “The majority really think I’m in ANTIFA.”
Then, on February 21, Ryan wrote that the Secret Service visited him on the 20th regarding the video he made last year.
“They were investigating my ANTIFA Parody video. Which they saw was a joke.”
Three of his Instagram (@jesseryan.us) photos confirm that Jesse Ryan is a member of the Bay Area Proud Boys.
Ryan isn’t the only Proud Boy to create fake Antifa media. In July, I wrote about a Rose City Antifa investigation on the Pacific Northwest Proud Boys, which found that multiple members created and attacked their own fake Antifa pages on Facebook. I also included the example of @AntifaPatton, a ‘false flag’ account I suspect was created to inflame Proud Boy-Antifa relations online and IRL.
Additionally, Ryan’s case underlines the gullibility of rightists when it comes to fake Antifa content on social media. For years now, hundreds of fake Antifa accounts have infected online discourse about antifascists with weaponized memes, doctored photos, and conspiracy theories that accuse Antifa of committing mass shootings and planning to overthrow the US government. Yet, no matter how outrageous something published by a fake Antifa account may seem, rightists are usually the first and only ones to truly believe it and spread it on social media.
This brings me to my second concern: Ryan mentioned that the Secret Service visited him regarding the ‘parody’ video he made. While I appreciate any and all government efforts to investigate threats of violence — especially with the appalling number of mass shootings in this country — I wonder how much fake Antifa content is taken seriously by law enforcement and government officials. (Like we saw in the unfortunate cases of Newnan, Georgia and Colorado Springs, Colorado.)
In other words, how many fake Antifa posts, photos, and videos are classified as legitimate antifascist intel in government reports and databases?