Everything you need to know about the groups surrounding the Capitol riot
By Sydney Homerstad
By now, nearly every American knows about the Capitol breach on January 6th that resulted in five deaths after supporters listened to Trump’s speech at his “Save America” March rally. In it, he says things like, “we will never give up,” and, “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” as well as leads them to believe he will be at the capitol with them.
This is the first time the historic building considered sacred to America has been breached since British troops set fire to it 207 years ago in the War of 1812. The Capitol is the most recognized symbol of democratic government in the world, and it is where congress meets to write the nation’s laws.
So who was involved, and what are these groups known for?
Supporters believed the election had been fraudulent and “stolen” from Trump and were there in an attempt to stop the senate from certifying the electoral votes. Some even believed that they would uncover an underground pedophile ring run by Democrats in accordance with a QAnon conspiracy.
The Capitol police appeared unprepared to handle the large crowd despite knowing about the threat days in advance, and ended up letting protesters pass through while others scaled walls and broke windows to enter. Watch this visual forensics video to see the timeline of these events and maps of where each occurred.
Some conservatives hold the belief that it was actually ANTIFA (short for anti-fascist) that incited the violence at the Capitol, but that has been proven false, and a majority of the rioters have been identified.
Fortunately, Capitol police were able to keep congresspeople, government staff and the press in both the senate and house chambers safe. Most feared for their lives and began taking off their identifying pins with the belief that they would be executed, and these tensions only worsened upon the house hearing the gunshot that killed Ashli Babbitt just outside the chamber. Most were stuck inside for hours.
Two pipe bombs were found nearby that evening.
The answer to how something like this could happen in America lies in the character of the crowd, among which were people in full tactical gear, confederate flags, anti-semetic messages and members of numerous white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups detailed below.
Important terms to know
- Conservative: a person who is averse to change and holds traditional values, favoring free enterprise and private ownership. Often mixes church and state.
- White Supremacist: a person who believes that white people constitute a superior race and should therefore dominate society, typically to the exclusion or detriment of other racial and ethnic groups, in particular black or Jewish people.
- Neo-Nazi: a member of an organization similar to the German Nazi party that believes in white supremacy.
- Insurrection: a violent uprising against an authority or government.
- 4Chan: a social networking site that is completely anonymous with posts lasting for limited amounts of time. Known for its “anything-goes” atmosphere and negative press.
- Neo-Fascism: post-World War II ideology that includes significant elements of fascism. Neo-fascism usually includes ultranationalism, racial supremacy, populism, authoritarianism, nativism, xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment as well as opposition to liberal democracy, parliamentarianism, liberalism, Marxism, communism and socialism.
- Alt-Right: a right-wing ideological movement characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate provocative content, often expressing opposition to racial, religious, or gender equality.
- Xenophobia: dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.
- Libertarianism: political philosophy and movement that upholds liberty as a core principle. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and political freedom, emphasizing free association, freedom of choice, individualism and voluntary association. Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power, but some of them diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing economic and political systems. Not to be confused with the Liberal Party.
Main groups, their beliefs and notable news surrounding them
You may have heard about the “Q Shaman” or the “viking guy” that attended the attempted coup. He was first spotted back in June, counter-protesting at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Tempe, Arizona pictured to the left.
This QAnon member was identified as a leading promoter of the conspiracy in online forums, and in this interview, he claimed to fight pedophiles in other dimensions.
His role in the Capitol breach was that of an aggravator, making it as far as the senate floor in his storming.
But why has he (Jake Angeli, a former Navy veteran) become so infamous? Well, he represents a larger problem.
A surprising number of the insurrectionists at the Capitol were members of the conspiracy group, QAnon.
QAnon is the name used for the conspiracy that Trump was waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshiping pedophiles in government, business, and the media. In all actuality, Trump was just a businessman turned politician that used political strategies like throwing distrust onto the media and scientists, as well as spreading fear and misinformation to his advantage. Many called his behavior similar to that of a dictator.
Supporters believed that this supposed fight would lead to a day of reckoning where prominent figures like Hillary Clinton would be arrested and executed. This violent hatred towards the Republican Party’s opposition was why the congresspeople trapped in the Capitol that day were almost certain the breach would lead to their execution.
While this is the main uniting ideology of QAnon supporters, there are many offshoot theories. Their total list of claims is enormous.
So how did they start? Well, in October of 2017, an anonymous user made a series of posts (often cryptic messages with slogans, pledges and pro-Trump themes) on 4Chan, calling themself “Q” and claiming to have a higher level of US security clearance. Hence the name QAnon.
Thousands, maybe even millions, began believing the theories of QAnon. Its spread was able to reach as far as it did due to social networking platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Reddit. As a result, these sites enforced stricter rules about the conspiracy group and began a mass take-down of QAnon videos and accounts that had grown a cult-like following, whose idol was former President Trump.
In fact, many of his supporters treated him in the same way, flying his flags and wearing his merchandise even after he was elected in a way that has never been seen before in any other presidency. Many were ready to defend any and everything he said even if it did not fit with their views prior to his rule. They even began turning on members of their own party when those such politicians denounced Trump, calling Mitt Romney a traitor and chanting things like “hang Pence.”
One anonymous Trump supporter called former Vice President Mike Pence “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” saying that they never liked the looks of him. Another claim of this supporter was that immoral members of the left likely threatened to kill members of his family, saving him for last unless he did what they wanted, which was apparently something as inconsequential as ceremoniously certifying the electoral votes, a process that was never paid attention to before Trump.
Videos by QAnon supporters are presently hard to come by, but here is a video explaining its rise.
The first time most Americans heard about the Proud Boys was when Trump was asked to denounce white supremacy in this debate with Biden.
The Proud Boys are an all-male group of far-right, neo-fascist, white nationalists who have been labeled a terrorist group by Canada. Ironically, their leader is an Afro-Cuban named Henry “Enrique” Tarrio.
They claim to be a fraternal group spreading an “anti-political correctness” and “anti-white guilt” agenda and have often been involved in political violence alongside other extremist groups like at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia back in 2017. Here is a short video and an article on it.
In addition, they have fought anti-fascists in the street, counter-protested at BLM, and were involved in the Capitol storming.
For an extensive list of information on the Proud Boys and quotes from them, visit this non-profit website dedicated to monitoring hate groups.
In the same debate Trump is asked to denounce the Proud Boys, he also brings up “ANTIFA” (short for anti-fascist) as being a bigger problem, to which Biden refutes by saying that it is an idea, not an organization.
What it really is, however, is a loose affiliation of local activists scattered mostly across the United States. People aligned with ANTIFA ideals are on the left of the political spectrum and are in opposition to fascism, nationalism, far-right ideologies, white supremacy, authoritarianism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia. Some denounce capitalism and the government overall.
Their actions range from tracking and publicly identifying alt-right members to physically attacking them as seen in many far-right demonstrations. Trump pushed to designate them along with the KKK as terrorist groups around the same time he unveiled his “Platinum Plan.”
The right has taken to incorrectly giving ANTIFA credit for numerous instances of political violence, including the Capitol riot, which they were not involved in.
The Three Percenters: an American and Canadian far-right, anti-government militia movement. Their name comes from the claim that only 3% of the American colonists were fighting against British forces in the American Revolution. They were involved in the bombing of a mosque, the “Unite the Right” rally mentioned under “Proud Boys,” weapons violations and terrorist attacks.
The Nationalist Socialist Club (NSC-131): a neo-Nazi group with members that see themselves as soldiers fighting a hostile, Jewish-controlled system that is deliberately plotting the extinction of the white race.
The Boogaloo Bois: a group of gun-enthusiast libertarians that seek a second civil war. Their views appear to be conflicting, as they are against Trump, the Proud Boys and government as a whole, but they also despise the LGBTQ+ and are pro-guns and violence. They have shown up armed and wearing Hawaiian shirts at protests and state capitals. However, they were not involved in the Capitol riot.