During the debate on Tuesday, Donald Trump insisted that political violence was a "leftwing problem," then encouraged the Proud Boys — a notoriously violent rightwing hate group that goes to protests in order to beat up anyone protesting against police brutality and fascism — to "stand back and stand by," and then, again, insisted that political violence was a "leftwing problem."

In reality, rightwing violence actually does account for the vast, vast majority of terrorism and political violence in the United States — including violence from people and groups that worship at the altar of Donald Trump, like one terrorist militia that's found itself back in the news this week.

In 2018, several members of a white supremacist terrorist group calling themselves the White Rabbit Three Percent Illinois Patriot Freedom Fighters Militia were arrested for the 2017 firebombing of the Dar al-Farooq mosque in Minnesota as well as the attempted bombing of an abortion clinic in Champaign, Illinois, also in 2017.

Members Michael McWhorter, 29 and Joe Morris, 23 pleaded guilty to the attempted clinic bombing in an Illinois court in January of this year, but leader Michael Hari, 48 — who the lawyers for the two other men claim "brainwashed" them — refused and will stand trial.

Court records newly obtained by Chicago's ABC 7 News show that McWhorter and Morris are set to testify in Hari's trial that they committed several more crimes as part of the militia and planned attacks in several states, as well as that Hari had a cache of automatic weapons.

In December of 2017, the Hari and the militia are alleged to have committed armed robbery of a Walmart in Watseka, Illinois, in order to fund their mission, but also because Hari believed that Walmart was funding antifa. Yes, notoriously liberal Walmart. They won't let their workers unionize or pay them a living wage, but they'll fund "antifa."

That same month, the group is alleged to have committed a home invasion Ambia, Indiana, and robbed the residents at gunpoint because "Hari believed the occupants of the home to be persons present in the United States in violation of the immigration laws of the United States, and to be dealers in narcotic drugs."

Later that month, there was an attempted armed robbery (allegedly) of a Walmart for the same reason as the other Walmart robbery.

In January of 2018, the White Rabbits vandalized a segment of railroad track used by the Canadian National Railway and then sent the Canadian National Railway a ransom note saying that if they did not give the group a certain amount of digital currency (Nazis do love their Bitcoin), they would continue to destroy the railroad.

McWhorter and Morris will be testifying against Hari as part of their plea agreements about these things and also a number of other attacks that the group had discussed. These include bombing a St. Paul Planned Parenthood and robbing a Bank of America, because Hari believed Bank of America was in cahoots with George Soros. You know, (((bankers))).

Whether Hari actually "brainwashed" his followers for real is not clear, but he is certainly an unusual person. As a Texas college student during the Waco Siege, he sympathized with David Koresh and thought it was not the government's business if he wanted to hoard weapons or rape 13-year-old girls if it was his religious belief to do so. He soon became obsessed with the religious practices of the Old German Baptist Brethren, an Anabaptist group that dresses like the Amish or the Mennonites. Beards, bonnets, that whole deal. His wife, Michelle Frakes, didn't like this too much and tried to run back to Illinois with their two daughters.

He followed and they reconciled, but they later ended up divorcing, with a contentious fight for custody of the children that went on for several years. (The Intercept says Hari won sole custody in 2001, the East Illinois News-Gazette says Frakes won sole custody in 2001 — whichever is right, they continued fighting about it for years.) In 2005, Hari dragged the children away to Belize where he had attempted to establish an Old German Baptist Brethren intentional community. It did not work out particularly well and the few people he got to move there — including Joe Morris — ended up moving away because it was gross. In 2006, Frakes ended up enlisting the help of Dr. Phil in an attempt to pressure Hari to bring their children back to the United States. It actually worked, and Hari was brought back to the US to face charges of child abduction and interference with visitation rights.

Throughout all of these years, Hari becomes super-religious, super-obsessed with women submitting to men, super-obsessed with what he called the "global secular elite." But then Trump came, and he became obsessed with Trump, who spoke to him in a way no other politician ever had.

A former acquaintance told The Intercept in 2019:

This whole Donald Trump movement caught a lot of us," said a man who knew Hari through their shared religious observance but asked not to be identified because he didn't want to be associated with Hari's alleged crimes. "Anybody with a fundamentalist mindset has this 'we-have-to-keep-our-ways, this-way-is-threatened' mentality. They look at Donald Trump's rhetoric, and it's a lot of what they're saying."

"I don't think Trump's rhetoric is getting people to commit violence," the man continued. "It's not like he's saying, 'Go bomb a mosque!' I think it's subtler. I think he's flipping the switch in certain people. And I think he flipped that switch in Michael Hari."

Hari even created a "global security firm" just to bid for a contract to build the wall. He got into QAnon, believing Trump was fighting a secret cabal of child sex traffickers. And then he founded the White Rabbit Militia — likely as a reference to the QAnon "follow the white rabbit" slogan — and started bombing places and committing armed robbery.

The fact that Trump and his followers have the audacity to stand around sobbing about "antifa" all day while his supporters are out there doing things like this is ... well, it's entirely expected, but it's also pretty sickening. The members of the White Rabbit Three Percent Illinois Patriot Freedom Fighters Militia are far from the only people to have committed violence and terrorism in his name, against his enemies. They won't be the last.


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Robyn Pennacchia

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. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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