White supremacists attempt to radicalize the GOP under guise of democratic integrity during Atlanta rallies
White supremacists attempt to radicalize the GOP under
guise of democratic integrity during Atlanta rallies
Editor’s Note: Earlier this week we made an error when we published a draft version of this story; the story was up for approximately 4 hours from 12:06 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. We apologize for any inconveniences or misinformation this may have caused, and will be more vigilant in the future.
On Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, White supremacist firebrand Nick Fuentes began a series of “#StopTheSteal” rallies outside the Atlanta capital to protest the 2020 General Election results–specifically the hand audit caused by the narrow margin of victory for Biden in Georgia, which flipped the state for the first time for a Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1992. Fuentes and others gathered to dispute what they claimed was an election rigged for president-elect Joe Biden.
Fuentes is best known for his America First podcast and being the figurehead for a White supremacy group called the “Groyper Army” (“Groypers” for short). Their aim is to push typical conservatives to extremism, with the overall goal of establishing overt White supremacy within the Republican Party–and the nation at large.
Though they do not explicitly describe themselves as White supremacists, Groypers and Fuentes have vocalized a hatred for racial integration, immigration, gay and transgender rights, feminism and Jews.
Their bigotry is rooted in the belief that America is a White nation first and foremost, and that cultural changes are eroding so-called “White identity” and eventually will erase White people, a common theme of the White genocide conspiracy. They also believe that Jews are the ones pulling the strings behind these machinations.
Fuentes has alluded to that conspiracy in relation to Biden’s cabinet positions on his DLive channel. In recent podcasts, he has claimed that White people as a race are dying while conflating South Africa and Rhodesia, which are common talking points within the White genocide conspiracy theory (the Rhodesian flag is a White supremacy symbol and Charleston church shooter Dylan Roof adorned one on his jacket).
He also chastised a subscriber for being romantically involved with a Latinx woman and said Indian people were “smelly.”
Fuentes participated in demonstrations throughout the week while outsiders such as Alex Jones, host of far-right radio show InfoWars (famously propagated the narrative that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax) and Trump supporters who had free security provided to them by the Proud Boys (rising far-right chauvinists that Trump has acknowledged in the past) and their leader Enrique Tarrio as well as 1A Praetorian, a private security company that provides pro bono services for “patriotic events.”
Fuentes spoke alongside Jones on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that week, but did not attend the final rally Saturday. Additionally, many other Trump supporters and the Proud Boys maintained their presence along with a counterprotest of local leftists.
UPDATE: After Thursday’s rally, Fuentes took to his DLive channel where he uses slurs and calls Atlanta a shithole city filled with feral homeless people in a since deleted video (but we managed to collect a copy in “Alt-Right Personality Nick Fuentes Blog Post After Stop the Steal Rally“).
Note the distinction in tone when Fuentes is speaking to a crowd in person, as opposed to when he speaks to his typical audience on his stream.
Neo-Nazis and White supremacists commonly use this tactic to be presentable on the surface and palatable to less extreme audiences. Fuentes uses covert language and subtle dog whistles, like when he says, “What is at stake is nothing short of our civilizational inheritance.”
Our Senior Video Editor James Hunter and Associate Video Editor Matt Schantz were on the ground at the final rally on Saturday.
Hunter and Schantz both noted that the leftists were outnumbered three-to-one. Many of them, like the Trump supporters, were heavily armed. The leftists donned gear such as assault rifles, body armor and riot shields while those in the conservative crowd opted to conceal carry, although a few were also heavily, openly kitted like the leftists.
“We had a much easier time talking to the conservative crowd, though each side had several people refuse to talk due to what I imagine is a distrust of the media,” Hunter said.
With most of the outside agitators gone, there was no clear organization to the protest, and Trump supporters were mostly in a loose gathering, taking turns deriding the election results while chanting, “USA, USA, USA.”
The few Trump supporters we did speak to did not seem as extreme Fuentes who at times has called for outright violence. Many spouted not uncommon far-right talking points such as BLM and gender rights advocates being the real bigots and Marxism being taught in school as what is truly dividing the country.
“As long as media and celebrities keep pushing this divide on whatever grounds that they want to, whether its racism, sexism, homophobia, uh, as long as they keep pushing that narrative and people aren’t willing to go out themselves and find the truth, they’re gonna believe what they [media & celebrities] say and that’s going to make the divide that much bigger,” one Trump supporter explained.
Another supporter explained that he was there because he felt that the election had been unfairly stolen and expressed severe doubts about the future of the country. “I think our country is right on the cusp of falling off a cliff. So I’m concerned about that,” the supporter donning a bright blue #StopTheSteal shirt said.
Right-wing extremists have made it their goal to take members (such as these Trump supporters) of the right that are not quite as extreme as them and use events such as this to push them to white nationalism, as Fuentes elaborated Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, on his America First podcast.
State troopers were seen talking with Tarrio and other members of the Proud Boys. While there was no physical confrontation during the volatile gathering, arguments broke out between the two groups (separated by Washington Street, outside the capitol) on more than a few occasions.
After this happened multiple times, the leftists began blocking the streets before state troopers in tactical gear and riot shields began making demands that everyone disperse from the road.
Not only is it troubling that White supremacists are coming from outside our city to instigate division, but there was little mainstream media coverage of the events. Moreover, what little coverage the rallies did receive completely missed the mark.
In their coverage, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) fails to identify key White supremacists such as Tarrio and simply describes such people as “Trump supporters.” The AJC also fails to identify any of the dangerous minds behind the rally with the only noteworthy individuals mentioned being Rep. Vernon Jones.
Vague and ambiguous reporting only serves to further the goals of people sharing Fuentes’s ideological views, because it can allow them to maintain a veneer of normality and hide their extremist rhetoric.
As journalists, our mission is to dig deeper to get to the truth below the surface.
UPDATE December 8 at 1:13 a.m.: After Thursday’s rally, Fuentes took to his DLive channel where he uses slurs and calls Atlanta a shithole city filled with feral homeless people in a since deleted video (but we managed to collect a copy in “White Nationalist/Alt-Right Personality Nick Fuentes Speech @ Stop The Steal Rally – Atlanta, GA – 11/21/2020”).
Moreover, Fuentes has encouraged Groypers to pressure Republican leaders to overrule the popular vote, allowing Trump to stay in office. He has also told his followers not to vote in the upcoming U.S. senatorial runoff election in Georgia, claiming that Republicans do not deserve their vote if candidates cannot represent them.