Far-right online forums are seething with references to potential violence and urging supporters of President Trump to bring guns to Wednesday’s protests in Washington — in violation of local laws — as Congress meets to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Many of the posts appear to be direct responses to Trump’s demands that his supporters pack the nation’s capital in support of his bogus claims that November’s national vote for Biden resulted from election fraud. Congress’s largely ceremonial role in confirming Biden’s victory has emerged as a catalyst for expected unrest that has D.C. police and the National Guard deploying on city streets to quell potential trouble.
Talk of guns and potential violence is rife on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, the conservative social media site Parler and on thedonald.win, an online forum that previously operated on Reddit before the company banned it in June after years of racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism and calls for violence.
Trump’s tweet last month pushing baseless fraud claims and promoting the “big protest” on Jan. 6 — “Be there, will be wild!” — has become a central rallying cry. It was the top post on thedonald.win Tuesday morning, and anonymous commenters saw it as a call to action: “We’ve got marching orders,” the top reply said.
Discussion in the thread followed about how most effectively to sneak guns into Washington, laced with occasional references to using them.
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D.C. has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws: Openly carrying guns is banned, concealed-carry licenses from other states aren’t recognized, and all firearms in the District must be registered with local police.
Of carrying guns in D.C., one poster in the thread wrote, “Yes, it’s illegal, but this is war and we’re clearly in a post-legal phase of our society.” Wrote another: “LIVE AS A FREE AMERICAN AND BRING YOUR ARMS!”
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More than half of the top 50 posts on thedonald.win’s homepage Monday related to Wednesday’s certification featured calls of violence within the top five comments, according to research by Advance Democracy, a group headed by former FBI analyst and Senate investigator Daniel J. Jones, who led the review of the CIA’s torture program.