Idaho Wingnuts Fret Imaginary Hordes Of Antifa Super Soldiers Coming To Get Them
Law enforcement agencies across Idaho have had to waste their time reassuring the public that no, there's no evidence that Antifa is busing hundreds of anarchists into the Gem State to burn and loot in connection with local protests against police brutality. Nor is Antifa flying elite squads of black-clad rioters to burn Boise to the ground. It's all a load of hooey spread on social media by idiots, including the leader of Idaho's branch of an actual anti-government militia, the "Real 3%ers of Idaho," which we suppose has that name so you won't mistake it for that other Three Percenter group with the cartoon gorilla. Or perhaps it's an offshoot/reboot (combat boot) of the "III Percenters" group that wet its pants a few years back about equally nonexistent jihadi refugees in Idaho.
The completely bullshit rumors on the internets appear to have cropped up nationwide, as NBC News reports. People fretting about rioters have copied and reposted completely false claims about scary anarchist rioters coming to cause mayhem. Some of the nonsense has included, but is not limited to, screenshots of that fake "Antifa" Twitter post that actually came from a neo-Nazi group. Disinformation about supposed Antifa infiltrators everywhere has spread on Facebook, as well as on neighborhood social media like Nextdoor and the Ring app. Hooray for the internet, which has made everyone a journalist and brought us all together!
In Idaho, one of the primary bullshit spreaders was the "Real 3%ers of Idaho" anti-government militia, which claimed on Facebook Sunday that it had "credible intel" showing that "Antifa and other groups are planning a riot tonight in the Boise area." Boise didn't have a riot Sunday, although a daytime rally at the Idaho Capitol building was attended by hundreds of people. Still, the "intel" sure sounded scary! The militia dipwads offered to send out armed patriots to protect businesses from the nonexistent rioters.
In comments following the post, the 3%ers account claimed that "local hospitals have gotten emails" from law enforcement, and that "we've been hearing from multiple out of state sources all day that buses are coming." The account also noted it might turn out to be nothing, but bravely stated, "we are on alert until we're not."
In a phone interview with the Idaho Statesman, the group's founder, Eric Parker, said he had three sources for his very credible "intel":
"One was an email to a hospital," Parker said. "I'm not going to disclose who it was from or who it was to — just to be prepared that they were expecting problems, and for the ER to be ready."
Representatives for Saint Alphonsus and St. Luke's hospitals in the Treasure Valley said they had not received or sent such emails, though they were aware of the rumors.
Parker said he was "not really comfortable with saying" who one source was, and he said the other was "law enforcement in Washington state."
You may recall Parker was the guy photographed cosplaying as a sniper on an overpass, pointing a rifle at federal agents during the 2014 Bundy ranch standoff in Nevada, which made him something of a celebrity in the wingnuttosphere. Parker pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge and in 2017, his jury didn't find him guilty of more serious charges, so he's still a legal gun guy, hooray. We should note that Parker doesn't appear to have found the Antifa claims serious enough to head for an overpass.
The Nevada jury couldn't actually agree whether this guy did this thing. https://t.co/F1EI7SZAa4— JJ MacNab (@JJ MacNab) 1493056405.0
The Idaho Statesman story, sadly, doesn't mention Parker's illustrious past.
In other fun ridiculous claims, 3,500 Facebook users shared this completely credible intel Sunday from some guy in Emmett, Idaho, about 30 miles from Boise:
A dozen guys on a domestic flight to Boise, all in black, because Antifa members are required to always be in uniform, obviously. How does he know this? Why do YOU doubt him, you commie? In replies, all he would say was that he got the information from
A credible source. Thats all I will say. Part of being ready is to be ready no matter who you hear it from but this is a good source or we would not have heard about it. Keep your eyes and ears peeled.
In reply, another person claimed "Friend of mine was at the airport when they got off the plane...Locked and loaded here in Nampa." That's two sources, so we can only conclude that the Antifa riot squad did fly into Boise, but were scared away by all the patriots saying they were ready to shoot troublemakers. That, or somebody spotted a bunch of really clumsy Ninjas.
In nearby Payette County, there was enough stupid rumormongering that the county sheriff's office took to Facebook to say Oh Knock It Off, You:
A spokesperson for the sheriff's office, Lt. Andy Creech, told the Statesman the fake information about planes and buses full of Antifa super soldiers had resulted in multiple calls to dispatchers asking if it was true, and that's what prompted the official rebuttal.
Similar rumors spread on social media all over the place; in one really fun variation, police in Casper, Wyoming, had to debunk Facebook claims that two privately owned school buses were secretly Antifamobiles that had delivered rioters to Casper (nope, no riots). But the buses were partly painted black! In mere reality, the owner was just converting the buses into motor homes. Happily, even though photos of the buses were posted to Facebook with the false claim, no genius has yet set them on fire to strike back at Antifa. A protest against the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota is planned for today, and the Casper police did recommend that local businesses close during the protest, just in case of trouble.
NBC News reports on the viral spread of the bullshit, which has popped up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where the Chamber of Commerce and another merchants' group tweeted warnings about Antifa rioters being bused in from Fargo. Which is apparently a really scary place to people in Sioux Falls. Police said the rumors were a "false flag," but a number of businesses cleared their sidewalks and nearby areas of signs, chairs, and any other loose stuff that rioters could use as projectiles.
The progressive group RuralOrganizing.org said it had identified multiple such social media posts, mostly appearing in small, generally conservative areas. The group said the rumors generally spread like so:
1. An unknown person calls local leaders (often the Chamber of Commerce or Country Radio Station)
2. They tell the leaders that they have a tip about "out of state" rioters planning to protest at a specific time in the next day or two.
3. Then fake Facebook accounts start to promote the rumors on local Facebook pages and in local Facebook groups
4. At the same time, local youth are targeted on social media and told to attend a rally at the same time and location
So far, it's not entirely clear to what extent this is "natural" paranoia and rumor-mongering, or whether it's organized in any way. It's tempting to think it's an organized disinformation campaign, but lord knows there are plenty of panicky Americans ready to pass on shitty lies and rumors, which is the beauty of disinformation. Did we learn nothing from "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street"?
Either way, the rumors are bringing out the patriots. Replies to the RuralOrganizing Facebook post linked to stories of armed idiots coming out to "protect the community" in Amherst, Ohio, as well as curfews in Iowa. Plus rumors all over the place, hooray.
In any case, Boise has now had two more peaceful demonstrations, one on Monday night, and a huge vigil last night that drew thousands of participants.
Crowds of people standing side by side have gathered from the steps past the statues in the middle. https://t.co/g88UhjPpso— Ximena (@Ximena) 1591153029.0
Wow...I have never seen a crowd this big in Boise. Speakers stress “this is a vigil, this is NOT a protest, this is… https://t.co/1JH5EJZtcL— gretchen parsons (@gretchen parsons) 1591153068.0
And there wasn't a single bit of looting, imagine that. But at Monday's much smaller protest, an 18-year-old counter-demonstrator (he's pro police brutality?) wandered around the demonstration "yelling at protesters, armed with a rifle and a handgun and wearing military-style tactical gear." He ended up firing a single shot into the ground, although nobody was injured. The kid was arrested and slapped with a misdemeanor charge of "discharging a firearm in city limits." Police initially said the gunshot appeared to be "accidental," but Boise State Public Radio reports this morning that police are now investigating the possibility that it may have been fired intentionally.
"It does not appear that that was intended to harm anyone although there is some discrepancy on whether it was intentional or not," Boise Interim Police Chief Ron Winegar said at a Tuesday press conference.
No word on whether the kid was all fired up to take out some Antifas because of Facebook rumors, or if he just figured anyone protesting the killing of an unarmed black man had to be in league with the terrifying boogeyman group.
UPDATE: Oh, look! Fox News is now presenting a badly-sourced garbage report about Antifa sending rioters all over the country. Who'd have imagined! See this thread from Brandy Zadrozny, who reported the NBC News story in our piece.
I used to work at Fox News so I understand the ethical gymnastics that go on there but this is going to give me a h… https://t.co/2okdOY4Afm— Brandy Zadrozny (@Brandy Zadrozny) 1591139258.0
[Idaho Statesman / NBC News / KTWO / Idaho Statesman / Argus Leader / Boise State Public Radio / Photo by 'Mobilus In Mobili,' Creative Commons license 4.0]
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.