A full list of clips and a CV are available on request.
Google giving far-right users' data to law enforcement, documents reveal
A little-known investigative unit inside search giant Google regularly forwarded detailed personal information on the company’s users to members of a counter-terrorist fusion center in California’s Bay Area, according to leaked documents reviewed by the Guardian.
But checking the documents against Google’s platforms reveals that in some cases Google did not necessarily ban the users they reported to the authorities, and some still have accounts on YouTube, Gmail and other services.
The users were often threatening violence or otherwise expressing extremist views, often associated with the far right.
The Base: Exporting Accelerationist Terror
After BBC TV’s “Panorama” showed how The Base expanded its network to Europe, Hatewatch can reveal that it also had success in expanding to a society whose settler history parallels the U.S.: Australia. Recorded vetting interviews, application documents, social media posts and The Base’s own internal chats show that the network, led by Rinaldo Nazzaro (who operated online under the pseudonyms “Norman Spear” and “Roman Wolf”), had some success in exporting both its ideology and organizing model to Europe and settler cultures such as Australia.
The materials show that the group made significant inroads into parts of Australia’s far right, and in particular the Lads Society, a white nationalist group that once invited Brenton Tarrant, the Australian who murdered 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019, to be a member.
They also show how local Australian far-right activists acted as virtual franchisees for The Base, finding fresh recruits in the ranks of the Lads Society, a local white nationalist network, and also vetting a man who had previously run for election to Australia’s parliament as a member of a right-wing populist party.
How a rural US sheriff’s department was able to obtain a military-grade vehicle
A sheriff’s department in a remote rural California county with only 18,000 people, no incorporated cities, few sworn officers and almost no crime, was able to obtain a second military-grade MRAP armored vehicle in 2017 by giving brief answers to a simple questionnaire, according to documents obtained under freedom of information requests.
MRAP stands for mine-resistant ambush protected, though the prospect of encountering mines or being ambushed would seem to be unlikely in even the toughest US police precincts.
The documents, provided to the Guardian by the transparency non-profit Property of the People, show how quickly Donald Trump’s 2017 reversal of the Barack Obama administration’s curtailment of the transfer of battlefield equipment to law enforcement agencies led to their renewed proliferation, and how little agencies had to do to demonstrate any real need for them.
In the moments before he was pushed to the sidewalk by a Buffalo police officer and then left for dead, 75-year-old Martin Gugino walked towards the line of advancing police. But why?
“I know exactly what he was doing. I’ve seen him do it a hundred other times,” says his close friend, fellow activist and public defense attorney Matt Daloisio, in a telephone conversation.
“What I think he was doing was trying to offer them something to read on his phone: about the law, about the right of people to assemble. Or asking why they were preventing people from exercising that right.”
For now, Facebook chooses to allow the Boogaloo movement to flourish on their platform.
Open source materials suggest that, for now, the apocalyptic, anti-government politics of the “Boogaloo Bois” are not monolithically racist/neo-Nazi. As we have observed, some members rail against police shootings of African Americans, and praise black nationalist self defense groups.
But the materials also demonstrate that however irony-drenched it may appear to be, this is a movement actively preparing for armed confrontation with law enforcement, and anyone else who would restrict their expansive understanding of the right to bear arms. In a divided, destabilized post-coronavirus landscape, they could well contribute to widespread violence in the streets of American cities.
Revealed: major anti-lockdown group's links to America's far right
With Robert Evans
Leaked audio recordings and online materials obtained by the Guardian reveal that one of the most prominent anti-lockdown protest groups, American Revolution 2.0 (AR2), has received extensive assistance from well-established far-right actors, some with extremist connections.
AR2 presents itself as a grassroots network, but the recordings and other materials reveal its allies include a well-connected Tea Party co-founder and a family of serial online activists who have rolled out dozens of “reopen” websites and Facebook groups.
Its website was built and is hosted by a web designer long active in far-right circles online, and who runs a bespoke social media network for the militia movement. One of that website’s previous users bombed a mosque, and another user, now memorialized on the site, was recently shot dead by police in Maryland during a firearms raid.
US was warned of threat from anti-vaxxers in event of pandemic
America’s “anti-vaxxer movement” would pose a threat to national security in the event of a “pandemic with a novel organism”, an FBI-connected non-profit research group warned last year, just months before the global coronavirus pandemic began.
In a research paper put out by the little-known in-house journal of InfraGard – a national security group affiliated with the FBI – experts warned the US anti-vaccine movement would also be connected with “social media misinformation and propaganda campaigns” orchestrated by the Russian government.
The paper, jointly written by a security consultant and a senior doctor in New York State’s largest hospital network, warned: “The biggest threat in controlling an outbreak comes from those who categorically reject vaccination.”
The paper, entitled The Anti-Vaxxers Movement and National Security, was co-written by Dr Mark Jarrett, the chief quality officer, senior vice-president and associate chief medical officer at Northwell Health; and Christine Sublett, a health industry-focused cybersecurity consultant.
Revealed: the true identity of the leader of an American neo-Nazi terror group
The Guardian has learned the true identity of the leader and founder of the US-based neo-Nazi terror network the Base, which was recently the target of raids by the FBI after an investigation into domestic terrorism uncovered their plans to start a race war.
Members of the group stand accused of federal hate crimes, murder plots and firearms offenses, and have harbored international fugitives in recent months.
The Base’s leader previously operated under the aliases “Norman Spear” and “Roman Wolf”. Members of the network do not know his true identity due to the group’s culture of internal secrecy.
But the Guardian can reveal that “Norman Spear” is in fact US-born Rinaldo Nazzaro, 46, who has a long history of advertising his services as an intelligence, military and security contractor. He has claimed, under his alias, to have served in Russia and Afghanistan.
The revelation of his identity comes after a months-long investigation by the Guardian into Nazzaro and the activities of the Base.
A new life: being diagnosed with ADHD in my 40s has given me something quite magical
The first step towards my diagnosis a month or so back was a quiz. Did I have trouble putting the finishing touches on complicated projects? Trouble sitting still for long periods? Did I interrupt conversations to finish people’s sentences? Did I fidget? How often?
My final score was very high. This, I understood, was a bad thing. It led to the second stage, a long conversation with a counsellor.
She politely but insistently asked me questions that covered my whole life’s history. How would my high school teachers have described me? (Bright but disorganised and distracted.) How did I entertain myself as a child? (Obsessive reading.) What things regularly caused conflicts in my relationships? (Chronic tardiness and untidiness.) How often did I lose things like wallets and keys? (All the time.)
How Portland's liberal utopia became the center of a rightwing war in the US
During the Obama years, Portland was widely seen as a redoubt of crunchy, progressive, west coast liberalism. Much of the world saw the city through the lens of Portlandia, a TV sketch show that lampooned hipsters, cyclists and fussy diners. The city was viewed as a liberal, cultural centre of the US – and a sharp contrast with more traditional conservative parts of the country. Its laid-back image was frequently satirised, not least by the comedian Fred Armisen, who said: “It’s where young people go to retire.”
Portlandia was more a caricature than a portrait, and locals noted what it left out – rapid gentrification and displacement, increasing homelessness, the contentious policing of the Portland police bureau (PPB) and the long racist history in the Pacific north-west that made Portland the whitest major city in America. The former NBA player Greg Oden said of his time playing in Portland: “It isn’t a great city to live in if you’re a young African American male with a lot of money.”
Even as Portlandia’s run was ending, a darker picture of the city was being painted, often by outsiders.
This weekend will see the latest in a long line of far-right gatherings that have plagued the city over the last few years. Various groups, including the most visible, the Proud Boys, will descend on the downtown area. Once again they will be met by leftist counter-protesters. And once again, PPB will be under heavy scrutiny for the way in which they police the event.
Revealed: Republican lawmaker aided group training young men for 'biblical warfare'
The Republican politician Matt Shea connected close allies with a group offering training to young men in “biblical warfare” that includes how to use knives, pistols and rifles, with lessons based in part on the teachings of a Georgia-based neo-Confederate pastor, emails obtained by the Guardian reveal.
Shea, who is an elected Washington state representative, later made videos in support of the group, and appeared alongside them at a gathering at a religious community in remote eastern Washington. He also paid the founder of the group money from his campaign fund in 2018.
The emails, sent in July 2016, begin with an email from Patrick Caughran, who presents himself as the founder of a training group called Team Rugged. They were provided to the Guardian by a former Shea associate who was copied in on the exchange.
'White power ideology': why El Paso is part of a growing global threat
Guardian US/Guardian Weekly
With Lois Beckett
Reports that the suspected gunman at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, saw his mass shooting as “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” has prompted bipartisan calls for the US to treat the threat of domestic “white terrorists” as seriously as the threat of attacks by supporters of al-Qaida or Isis.
But experts who study racist violence say the attack must be understood not just as a domestic problem within the United States, but as part of a global network of white nationalist radicalization and violence.
The escalating global death toll from white nationalist attacks puts a spotlight on the social media companies that have allowed white nationalists to organize on their platforms with little interference, as well as on the clear parallels between white terrorists’ justification for their attacks, and the racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric of some mainstream politicians. Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to immigrants and refugees as an “invasion”.
Republican discussed violent attacks and surveillance with rightwingers
A Washington state Republican politician took part in private discussions with rightwing figures about carrying out surveillance, “psyops” and even violent attacks on perceived political enemies, according to chat records obtained by the Guardian.
State representative Matt Shea, who represents Spokane Valley in the Washington state house, participated in the chats with three other men. All of the men used screen aliases – Shea’s was “Verum Bellator”, Latin for true warrior. The Guardian confirmed the identity of those in the chat by cross-checking phone numbers attached to the Signal accounts.
The group included Jack Robertson, who broadcasts a far-right radio show, Radio Free Redoubt, under the alias “John Jacob Schmidt”. The chat also included Anthony Bosworth, whose history includes a public altercation with his own daughter and bringing guns to a court house. Bosworth participated in the 2016 occupation of the Malheur national wildlife refuge, reportedly at Shea’s request.
Eco-fascism is undergoing a revival in the fetid culture of the extreme right
In his shoddy manifesto, the accused shooter in Christchurch identified as an “eco-fascist”.
Over the weekend Kellyanne Conway seized on the term – which is unfamiliar to many – to lump him in with so-called “eco-terrorists”, saying “He’s not a conservative. He’s not a Nazi.” No doubt she was banking on common understandings of contemporary environmentalism to draw a link to the political left.
Unfortunately for Conway, Nazism and a twisted version of ecological thinking are joined in the minds of a share of rightwing extremists.
‘We've dug ourselves a really deep hole’ – David Neiwert on the rise of the far right
David Neiwert has lived in his Seattle neighbourhood for decades. But it, like the US, has changed beyond recognition around him. Once upon a time, the journalist and author of the book Alt-America explains, “most of the houses were older, but they were cheap. They were places where working-class people who work on these fishing boats out here” – he gestures towards the docks at Salmon Bay – “could live, right? You know, 500 bucks a month. It all got torn down during the gentrification phase and replaced with multistorey condos that cost $1,500 or $2,000 a month.”
Amazon, whose headquarters are in Seattle, “changed the city”, he says. “All the folks who work on those fishing boats are still in the neighbourhood, but they’ve got no place to live. They’re all living on the street.” He offers a characteristic wry grin. “We’ve got a lot of motor homes around the neighbourhood now.”
Neiwert has spent his career studying far-right movements. Alt America analyses their growth over the past several decades, and looks at how authoritarianism and conspiracy thinking have come to hold sway over US politics. Neiwert believes that the far right’s surge, the election of Donald Trump and mass homelessness in Seattle all spring from a common root: the deliberate assault on democracy by the US right and the Republican party.
FBI now classifies far-right Proud Boys as 'extremist group', documents say
The FBI now classifies the far-right Proud Boys as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism”, according to a document produced by Washington state law enforcement.
The Proud Boys was founded by the Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. McInnes has insisted that his group is not white nationalist or “alt-right” but the Proud Boys have a history of misogyny and glorifying violence. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists them as a hate group.
The document also says: “The FBI has warned local law enforcement agencies that the Proud Boys are actively recruiting in the Pacific north-west”, and: “Proud Boys members have contributed to the recent escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses, and in cities like Charlottesville, Virginia, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.”
‘This is evil at work’: how should a small town react to neo-Nazis?
Laura Rose might go to prison for an anti-fascist act of rebellion which has exacerbated a deep debate in a small Oregon town, but they say it wasn’t premeditated.
“I didn’t make a plan. I missed the bus,” Rose says, raising their eyebrows under a battered cowboy hat.
They – Rose is genderqueer – live an itinerant lifestyle, traveling around the US Pacific north-west. They had been staying in the small town of Cottage Grove, Oregon, (population 10,000) when they had heard about a violent neo-Nazi by the name of Jake Laskey who had been using a store, Wolfclan Armory, as a base of operations for reviving the American Front, one of the oldest white supremacist gangs in the country.
Portland far-right rally: police charge counterprotesters with batons drawn
A rally by rightwing group Patriot Prayer in Portland, Oregon, culminated in a police charge on counterprotesters on Saturday, as a demonstration once again brought disorder and violence to the city’s downtown area.
Two hours into the rally, police moved towards leftwing counterprotesters with batons drawn, and used dozens of “flash bang” stun grenades and rounds containing pepper spray.
As they moved on the counterprotest, Patriot Prayer marchers chanted “lock them up, lock them up”.
Riot in Portland as far-right marchers clash with anti-fascists
A riot was declared in downtown Portland, Oregon, on Saturday evening as the city exploded into its worst protest violence of the Trump era.
More than 150 supporters of the far-right Patriot Prayer group fought pitched street battles with scores of anti-fascist protesters. In total, nine people were arrested.
The far-right march had started near Schrunk Plaza in the city centre, where the rightwing group had held a rally, led by the Patriot Prayer founder and Republican US Senate candidate Joey Gibson.
As soon as the group left the plaza, they clashed with anti-fascists who had been waiting across a heavily barricaded street nearby.
As the two groups came to blows, Department of Homeland Security officers fired non-lethal ammunition towards the counter-protest.
Later the groups met on another street nearby, where the worst of the violence took place.
The Texas boys were beaten, abused, raped. Now all they want is an apology
Steve Smith was just eight when his mother left him in the care of Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, a Texas institution for at-risk children. From the moment he got there in 1959, the place didn’t sit right with him.
“I cried probably more than any boy that I know that came out [of] there, just homesick, and I didn’t take it very well.”
Almost immediately upon his arrival, Steve was subject to the first of many beatings. For the following decade, he endured regular and arbitrary violence at the hands of staff. He also had to watch helplessly as his younger brother, Rick, was beaten by adults until he couldn’t stand.
Delay, delay, delay: how the NRA handles a crisis
On Tuesday, a leaked White House document offered instructions for staff and surrogates on addressing the slaughter in Las Vegas.
Above all, the message was delay. “Let’s wait for the facts before we make sweeping policy arguments for curtailing the second amendment”, the marching orders led off. They ended with a number of reasons that could be given for why we shouldn’t act, or even debate the issue now.
If they sounded oddly familiar, it’s because Republican politicians use the same lines all the time. This week, Mitch McConnell and sundry Republican legislators have reeled off the same arguments. And experts say this consistency is a result of the iron grip that the NRA now has on conservative minds.
Ruby Ridge, 1992: the day the American militia movement was born
Twenty-five years ago this week, in a remote corner of northern Idaho, the modern militia movement was born in a firefight. On the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, two weeks ago, observers could see from the presence of well-armed men in fatigues that that movement was still with us. But back in 1992, they hadn’t yet formed. A firefight between six US marshals and two boys and a dog, changed all that.
On 21 August that year, the marshals went to a location that became known as Ruby Ridge, near Naples, to scout a location where they might ambush a fugitive, Randy Weaver. Weaver had been holed up for a year and half with his family in his cabin, having failed to attend his trial on firearms charges.
The marshals aroused the attention of Weaver’s dogs. Alarmed, they retreated to a small clearing to the west of the house. Weaver ventured out, looking for the source of the disturbance. His 14-year-old son, Sammy, and his young friend Kevin Harris did the same on a separate route, following on the heels of a dog, Striker.
Why is the US still fighting the civil war?
In St Paul’s memorial church in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Friday, just up the street from where white supremacists were gathering for a torchlight rally, Cornel West explained why African Americans saw the removal of Confederate monuments as so important.
On hearing that hundreds of white supremacists were gathered in a nearby park, the civil rights leader said, with a hint of weariness: “These are chickens coming home to roost. We should have eliminated these statues a long time ago.
“The idea that the American family has to embrace figures like [Confederate general] Robert E Lee, or Stonewall Jackson, who were fundamentally committed to enslaving black people in perpetuity … These people are not heroes.”
But figures such as Lee and Jackson are heroes to some. Their admirers include Donald Trump. In a rowdy press conference on Tuesday, he compared them to celebrated figures in American history such as presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Their admirers also include the white nationalist movement, which is currently surging in the US. The footsoldiers of that movement terrorised Charlottesville last weekend. Trump downplayed their violent excesses, saying they were merely “there to protest the taking down the statue of Robert E Lee”.
'Increasingly Nazified' white nationalist rally descends on Virginia amid expected protests
A white nationalist rally, which some have predicted could be the largest in the US in years, is expected to descend on Saturday on Charlottesville, Virginia, and be met by counter-protests.
Far-right monitoring groups estimate that between 500 and 1,000 people and 30 speakers and groups will descend on the downtown area for the afternoon event, organised by the local rightwing activist and former Daily Caller writer Jason Kessler.
There was a confrontation late Friday ahead of the main rally when protesters and a smaller group of counter protesters came together on the University of Virginia campus. When the marchers reached and surrounded the counter-protesters there was a short verbal confrontation. Counter-protesters said they were then attacked with swung torches, pepper spray and lighter fluid.
The new horsemen: how American riot police embraced the bicycle
Early last Saturday afternoon, under clear blue skies, a sparsely attended “anti-sharia” rally left the grounds of City Hall in Seattle, Washington.
Until then, the attendees had been facing off against a much larger group of anti-fascists. The two sides had been exchanging chants and taunts across a wide, fenced-off area, manned with riot police.
As they left the grounds, however, the two sides came into direct contact at the corner of 4th and Cherry. A group of young men – some wearing red Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” hats, others in masks – spilled from the pavement out onto the street. Punches started flying.
Immediately, 10 fit, muscular police officers on black mountain bikes who had been watching from across the intersection in two columns of five, leaped into action.