Neo-Nazis Arrested Ahead Of Gun Rally Thought They Were Gonna Start A Race War
Governor Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency in Richmond, Virginia, ahead of a gun rally taking place there on Monday. Police are gearing up and weapons have been temporarily banned from the state Capitol.
It's not just any gun rally. It's not just a bunch of NRA twerps who want to deck themselves out like Rambo and scream "FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS" a whole bunch. It's a gun rally that will be attended by a bunch of right-wing militias and white supremacists — and in light of everything that's been going on for the last few years, the city is bracing for a potential armed conflict.
If anyone ever wanted an advertisement for restrictions on gun purchases, I'm going to say that a cavalcade of neo-Nazis screaming about a "race war" at the state Capitol of Virginia is a good one.
Just yesterday morning, three members of the white supremacist paramilitary group The Base were arrested by the FBI, which had reason to believe that they had been planning to show up to the rally with weapons and commit an act of violence. One of the men arrested, Patrik J. Mathews, 27 — an explosives expert and former Canadian army reservist — is in the United States illegally. He was charged with possession of a firearm while being in the country illegally.
Patrik J. MathewsPolice handout
Brian M. Lemley Jr., 33, and William G. Bilbrough IV, 19, were also arrested and charged with harboring someone who had entered the country illegally, conspiracy, and transporting a firearm and ammunition with the intent of committing a felony.
Via The New York Times:
According to the authorities, Mr. Lemley and Mr. Mathews made a functioning assault rifle. They also bought more than 1,500 rounds of rifle ammunition, fired the rifle at a Maryland gun range and acquired vests to hold body armor. Although the charges were not directly linked to the Richmond rally, law enforcement officials said the three men had discussed attending it.
They were not the only ones arrested yesterday, either. Three more white supremacists were arrested for their plans to murder a couple associated with antifa movements.
In the weeks running up to the rally, white supremacist extremists shared memes and exchanged messages online, detailing their desires to commit violent acts in hopes of starting a race war.
Adherents of extremist groups have been beating the drums for people to participate.
One online meme shows half a dozen men who carried out bloody attacks in the United States, Norway and New Zealand, dressing them as biblical saints with halos above their heads. "Virginia Is For" read the headline.
Many of the comments are racist, anti-Semitic and unprintable. "Y'all need to go full white ethnostate and really set the pace for 2020," said another online message, below the picture of a road sign that had been altered to read "Virginia Is For Gun Lovers."
Charming people, really.
A number of other violent right-wing groups are also planning on attending the event — militias like the Oath Keepers and American Patriots the III% (yes, that's one group), and neo-Confederate groups that plan to hit up the rally just after celebrating Lee-Jackson Day. Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer told Infowars' Alex Jones that he might attend as well.
Initially, the rally — being held on Martin Luther King Day — was meant to protest some new proposed restrictions on gun purchases, organized by Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. You may remember Van Cleave as the gun nut that Sacha Baron Cohen convinced to do a series of "guns for kids" commercials for his show Who Is America:
Anyone who is hankering for a "race war" is not only evil, but extraordinarily pathetic and delusional. A lot of people in America are racist, I will give them that. But willing to actually go to war over it? When there are still more episodes of The Circle coming? I think not. That Craig Cobb guy couldn't even get one damn town in North Dakota with a population of 15 people to go full whites only. What on earth makes them think anyone in America is gonna go, "Oh wow, these 17 people really, really want to get to live in an all-white country. It's so sad for them that they can't have this! Instead of encouraging them to just all move to that Pablo Escobar Fyre Festival Island, let's all literally lay down our lives to make this a reality for them! They deserve it!" or that those who oppose their agenda are going to do anything other than just watch them go to prison. Like they're doing now.
This is not to say these people are not dangerous. They are absolutely dangerous and should be taken very seriously. The fact that law enforcement did not take them seriously for a very long time is part of why we are in this current situation.
It's unlikely that the only six people planning violent acts at this event were arrested by the FBI. There may be others. Hopefully, the things Northam and others have done to prevent something like that happening will be effective, because boy are these people not well.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse