US Capitol Rioters Were Planning Invasion For Weeks Online
The rioters who stormed the US Capitol building in protest against the results of the 2020 presidential election had reportedly been planning their invasion for weeks.
Members of the mob had been making their plans via mainstream social media platforms as well as on pro-Trump forums such as ‘TheDonald’ and far-right corners of the internet.
Many experts are now wondering why law enforcement officers were not more prepared for this possibility, when the rioters had already made their intentions clear online.
According to Buzzfeed News, nonprofit research organisation Advance Democracy found that more than half of QAnon-related Twitter accounts – approximately 20,800 – mentioned the date January 6, although most of the posts did not make an explicit call for violence.
In the days leading up to the riot, Advance Democracy found that Trump supporters across all corners of the internet had been ‘signaling imminent violence’:
On TheDonald, more than 50% of the top posts on January 4, 2021, about the January 6th Electoral College certification featured unmoderated calls for violence in the top five responses.
One post on the site read, ‘ARMED WITH RIFLE, HANDGUN, 2 KNIVES AND AS MUCH AMMO AS YOU CAN CARRY’, while another – which had been upvoted more than 5,000 times – read, ‘This is America. F*ck D.C. it’s in the Constitution. Bring your goddamn guns.’
As per The Daily Beast, one commenter on TheDonald even wrote:
I’m thinking it will be literal war on that day. Where we’ll storm offices and physically remove and even kill all the D.C. traitors and reclaim the country.
As per PBS Frontline, leaders of the Stop the Steal movement wrote the following message on December 23:
We came up with the idea to occupy just outside the CAPITOL on Jan 6th.
The leaders named their riot ‘The Wild Protest’, in reference to a tweet by Trump that encouraged supporters to air their grievances on the streets of Washington, remarking, It ‘will be wild’.
Movement founder Ali Alexander even encouraged rioters to bring along tents and sleeping bags, and told them to attend the riot without wearing masks.
Writing on far-right site Parler, Alexander wrote, ‘If D.C. escalates… so do we’. This was reportedly just one of many social media posts encouraging violence that ProPublica reviewed in the weeks prior to the incident at the Capitol.
Recently retired Capitol Police veteran Larry Schaefer told PBS Frontline:
It’s not a spur-of-the-moment demonstration that just popped up. We have a planned, known demonstration that has a propensity for violence in the past and threats to carry weapons – why would you not prepare yourself as we have done in the past?
In September, a draft report published by the Department of Homeland Security found that white supremacists posed the greatest threat to national security in the US.
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