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July 6, 2016

Extremists Make Plans For GOP Convention

Updated July 21, 2016

The GOP convention in Cleveland (July 18-21) is a key opportunity for a range of extremists and bigots who seek publicity to voice their support or opposition to Donald Trump – and their hatred for anyone who disagrees with them.

As the Anti-Defamation League has noted, the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign – and one candidate in particular – has elicited unprecedented levels of engagement and enthusiasm among anti-government and white supremacist extremist groups.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism has been monitoring extremists’ plans to attend the Republican convention in Cleveland and has shared this information with federal law enforcement agents managing security for the event. We will share new information with those agents as it becomes available.

The following list of expected attendees is varied, ranging from individuals to organized groups. This reflects the support (and sometimes opposition) Donald Trump receives from a wide range of extremists. It should be noted, there is no indication that Trump  supports these groups.

  • Richard Spencer, who heads the National Policy, a small white supremacist think tank, traveled to Cleveland to promote his racist views. Spencer held up a sign saying “Wanna Talk to a ‘Racist’? and reportedly said he “wanted to demystify white separatism” for the people he encountered in the public square near the convention. Spencer also reportedly attended the “Wake Up!” party hosted by conservative activists, which included controversial speakers such as Milos Yiannopoulos and anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician.
  • Members of the anti-refugee vigilante group Soldiers of Odin USA, spotted outside the convention hall in Cleveland, told a reporter they were there as a “community watch” organization and had no plans to confront anyone unless they sensed “imminent danger.” While they claim not to be racist, the Soldiers of Odin USA are in fact virulently anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant. The group originated in Finland, but has attracted thousands of members and admirers here in the United States, many of whom are either white supremacists or anti-government extremists.
  • Anti-government conspiracy theorist Alex Jones spoke at a rally for Trump near the convention hall hosting the RNC, where he accused “globalists” of trying to implement a “world government.” Jones runs the Infowars website where he promotes  conspiracy theories such as the idea that the government is behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks and  is trying to strip Americans of their rights, especially their rights to free speech and to own firearms.

  • The Traditionalist Worker Party is an anti-Semitic, white supremacist group run by Matthew Heimbach and Matt Parrott.  They report­edly filed per­mits to march in Cleve­land but later announced alternative plans. Heimbach showed up outside the convention anyway, voicing his disapproval for Trump, whose policies “don’t go far enough” in advancing white nationalism, and urging followers to write in George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party.

  • Westboro Baptist Church: Five members of the venomously anti-gayand anti-Semitic Kansas church plan to be in Cleveland to protest the Republican Party and to warn attendees of the “imminent judgment”
    Westboro Baptist Church members at a protest

    Westboro Baptist Church members at a protest

    facing the United States. WBC members are best known for picketing the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers, carrying signs celebrating their deaths (because God hates America’s evil ways). Members of the church are equal opportunity bigots: They also plan to protest at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Expect to see them carrying their usual signs – expressing their boundless, unmoored hatred for everything from gay rights to Israel.

  • Blood and Honour USA: This racist skinhead group is the American chapter of a loose international confederation of hardcore racist skinheads.  Some members of Blood and Honour USA have in the past committed violent acts.  One of the group’s lead­ers announced on social media that he and a num­ber of other mem­bers would be in Cleve­land sup­port­ing Trump and wear­ing t-shirts bear­ing the Totenkopf (death’s head) – a sym­bol used by the SS in World War II.

    William Johnson of American Freedom Party

    William Johnson of American Freedom Party

  • American Freedom Party: This white supremacist group is headed by attorney William Johnson. Johnson made headlines in the spring of 2016 with his “robocalls” to voters in crucial primary states, entreating people to “defend the white race” by voting for Trump, and again in May when it was revealed that he was on the list of Trump delegates for California. Blaming a “database error,” the Trump campaign removed Johnson from its list, but AFP responded with this gleeful Facebook message:  “…here’s what they don’t know: we have more delegates!”
  • David Riden (Trump delegate from Tennessee): Member of the anti-government Patriot Movement. Riden has said he believes members of the current U.S. government deserve to be killed for “abusing the Constitution.”
  • Jim Stachowiak:  Member of the anti-government Patriot Movement. This right-wing, rabidly anti-Muslim extremist from Georgia will be in Cleveland to support Donald Trump, and has called upon “all military veterans, law enforcement veterans, followed by three-percenters, patriots,” to “come lawfully armed with lethal and non-lethal weaponry,” has advocated for Mecca to be bombed, and has made not particularly veiled threats against Black Lives Matter activists, whom he refers to as “terrorists.”  Stachowiak, a former university public safety officer turned militia fan boy and online radio host, has been arrested several times.

    malik-zulu-shabazz-hashim-nzinga-charleston-south-carolina-june-2015-350x234

    The New Black Panther Party at a protest in Charleston, South Carolina

  • The New Black Pan­ther Party: The NBPP will be in Cleve­land to protest against Don­ald Trump. In the days lead­ing up to the con­ven­tion, the pro­foundly anti-Semitic, black supremacy group will hold a series of protests and work­shops in part­ner­ship with Black Lawyers for Jus­tice, which is headed by for­mer NBPP leader (and cur­rent “spir­i­tual advi­sor”) Malik Zulu Shabazz. The NBPP, which is known for its calls for vio­lence against law enforce­ment, has announced plans to carry guns dur­ing its protests in Cleve­land. The New Black Pan­ther Party is not affil­i­ated with the orig­i­nal Black Pan­ther Party, whose mem­bers have harshly crit­i­cized the NBPP for “hijack­ing” the orig­i­nal group’s message.
  • Anti-Muslim activsts: Pro-LGBT conservative activists are hosting a party called “Wake Up“ at the Republican Convention in Cleveland on July 19. The event will feature anti-Muslim extremist Pamela Geller and Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial figure who reportedly made anti-Semitic comments in the past about Jewish control of banks and the media. Other featured speakers include Geert Wilders, a well-known anti-Muslim Dutch politician, and Ann Coulter, a political commentator known for her extreme anti-immigrant position. According to a post on the personal blog of Pamela Geller, “The party is the outcome of discussions among a group of gay Republicans following the tragic massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June.” This appears to be an attempt to promote an anti-Muslim agenda among this group of pro-LGBT conservatives.
  • The Oath Keepers will be on the ground in Cleveland, ostensibly to “help” patrol the area, as they did with long guns during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of Michael Brown. The anti-government extremist group’s website has denounced “radicals’” plans to protest at the convention, and calls for volunteers to participate in “Operation North Coast,” an “intelligence gathering” effort. This hyper-militarized language is typical of the Oath Keepers, who recruit from the military and law enforcement in their efforts to build a force capable of resisting “government overreach.”

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February 3, 2015

House Judiciary Committee Extends Invitation To Sheriff Paul Babeu

The House Judiciary Committee, which held a meeting on February 3 on the enforcement of immigration laws in the U.S., invited Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Arizona to testify. Babeu is known for his anti-immigrant views and claimed that many of the undocumented immigrants crossing the border have criminal backgrounds. Babeu is a controversial figure.

Sheriff Paul Babeu

Sheriff Paul Babeu

In the summer of 2014, when there was a surge of children fleeing to the United States across the Mexican border, Babeu reportedly leaked details of where some of those children would be bused in Oracle, Arizona, to receive social services. This led to chaos when about 80 anti-immigrant activists confronted school buses filled with children in the town and tried to halt the buses. Some held signs that said, “Return to Sender.” It turned out, however, that the school buses were filled with local children heading to YMCA camp. Local media chastised Babeu for stirring up trouble in the town. In response, he said that he was just informing the public.

Babeu has courted controversy on other occasions too. In 2012, when five bodies were found in a burned-out SUV in Pinal County, he declared that the deaths appeared to be related to a drug cartel. Later on, authorities learned that the incident was actually a murder-suicide of a family from Phoenix and unrelated to drugs.

In addition, Babeu has appeared on extremist shows. In July 2010, he was a guest on “The Political Cesspool,” a white supremacist show, where Babeu talked about immigration and bemoaned what he referred to as the invasion of Arizona. After Babeu’s appearance on the show became public, he claimed he did not know about the show’s politics.

According to media reports, he also appeared on Alex Jones’ radio show. Jones is one of the most prominent conspiracy theorist in the United States, and has been responsible for spreading and popularizing a wide variety of conspiracies, the majority espousing some form of anti-government viewpoint. Babeu reportedly spoke about an incident in which his deputy was allegedly shot by members of a Mexican drug cartel. Although Babeu exploited the deputy’s story to justify Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant bill, SB 1070, the deputy was later fired for allegedly making false statements about the incident.

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January 9, 2013

CNN Gives Platform to Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones

On Monday, CNN aired a primetime interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Piers Morgan Tonight. Jones’s appearance might have been an eye-opening experience for those unfamiliar with what extremists are saying, but to the extent that the interview allowed him to promote both his views and his media outlets to hundreds of thousands of new viewers, it was quite troubling.

In his initial introduction of Jones, the host, Piers Morgan, only identified him as the host of “The Alex Jones Show” and also “one of the people behind” the petition calling for Morgan to be deported for his views on the second amendment.

Jones uses his radio show and his websites, Infowars and Prison Planet, to promote a host of right-wing and anti-government conspiracy theories.

For example, in a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, Jones commented on the shooting of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), stating “The whole thing stinks to high heaven. This kid Loughner disappeared for days at a time before the shooting? My gut tells me this was a staged mind-control operation. The government employs geometric psychological-warfare experts that know exactly how to indirectly manipulate unstable people through the media. They implanted the idea in his head by repeatedly asking, ‘Is Giffords in danger?'”

A description on Jones’s website Infowars for his film “911 The Road To Tyranny” describes how the film examines “Bill Clinton’s involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing and how it was carried out by intelligence agencies to be blamed on the right-wing.  According to the description, the film also addresses “how the FBI ordered their informants to cook the bomb and train the drivers in the first World Trade Center attack in 1993.”

Jones’s conspiracy theories, while easily dismissed as ludicrous, can influence people to take action. In August 2009, a man pleaded guilty to sending a threatening communication after he wrote a message on Infowars threatening to kill a San Francisco police officer and his family after reading a discussion about a subway shooting by a police officer in Oakland, California.

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