It was predictable that, given their histories of using dubious pretenses to whip up public animus against leftist protesters—particularly against Black Lives Matter and antifascists—right-wing propagandists would seize upon the Nov. 21 tragedy in Waukesha, Wisconsin, when a Black man killed six people and injured 62 others by driving an SUV through a Christmas parade, to exploit for their own purposes. Sure enough, pseudo-journalists like Andy Ngo and Tim Pool rushed to promote the spurious claim that the man was a supporter of “BLM causes” and “black nationalism.”
Just as predictably, far-right white nationalists have seized on the Waukesha tragedy online as proof that, in their words, it was “a blatant anti-white terror attack.” Some neo-Nazis have begun spreading posters with the slogan, “We will not forget Waukesha.” And last weekend, a racist and antisemitic organization called the National Justice Party organized a protest at the Waukesha County Courthouse, carrying signs such as “Stop Anti-White Hate” and “Stop BLM Terror.”
Contrary to the propaganda, Waukesha police investigators have explicitly concluded that “there is no evidence this was a terrorist event.” They believe the SUV driver, 39-year-old Darrell Brooks, was fleeing a violent domestic disturbance; the man has a long criminal record.
This did not deter either Ngo or Pool nor their hordes of online followers, many of whom are explicit white nationalists. Ngo in particular has a history of unethically declaring incidents of mass violence the handiwork of “antifa terrorists” with no substantive evidence, including the August 2019 mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, which FBI investigators just concluded had no political motivation.
Ngo assembled a Twitter thread shortly after the killings with an old mug shot of Brooks, and then claimed—without evidence—that on old social-media posts, Brooks had shown his support for “BLM causes, George Floyd & black nationalism.” The next day, he offered the evidence, which included a falsified and antisemitic Hitler quote that Brooks had shared, his praise for a George Floyd mural, and his use of positive emojis to comment on a cartoon about racial profiling.
Ngo also disingenuously proffered as evidence a post by Brooks he described as “about how to get away with running people over on the street”—even though the post in question was actually written by an ex-Minneapolis police officer who encouraged drivers to run down BLM protesters, and Brooks had posted it as evidence of violent police attitudes. Of course, there is still zero evidence that Brooks ever participated in any BLM march or engaged in any protest organizing.
Pool, a podcaster who has a following of over 1 million on YouTube—built in large part on his predilection for whitewashing far-right extremists—quickly jumped on Ngo’s Twitter thread as the partial basis for a video discussion of the incident, repeating Ngo’s misleading claim that Brooks posted about running people over. Pool was more cautious, noting that police believe it wasn’t an act of terrorism, but then flatly asserted that Brooks has “ties to Black Lives Matter.”
The claims quickly spread online. Hundreds of accounts promptly began claiming or insinuating that Brooks was a BLM member or inspired by civil rights groups. Some suggested that it was the first shot in a race war, or echoing Pool, contended that Brooks’ crimes were “retribution” for the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha only a few days beforehand.
QAnon-friendly Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted: “After the widespread hateful reaction to the Rittenhouse verdict & dog whistle calls to radical BLM ground troops by the mainstream media, Democrats, and even the President of the United States, we must ask if they incited the mass murder in Waukesha, WI.”
Greene also shared and endorsed a post by Pedro Gonzales, a fellow at the Trumpist Claremont Institute, who blamed the “US media” for inspiring a “black nationalist.”
Right-wing provocateur Laura Loomer answered Greene’s question on Telegram: “From the moment this happened I said it was a black supremacist Muslim who carried out a terror attacking against WHITE PEOPLE,” she posted on Telegram.
On more explicitly white-nationalist Telegram channels, as Ben Makuch at Vice reports, the talk became predictably racist and violent. One neo-Nazi prepper attacked mainstream media ostensibly engaging in a coordinated cover-up of the Waukesha tragedy, describing the incident as “blatant anti-white terror attack.”
One minor Telegram celebrity, an ex-Marine with thousands of followers, printed up posters for sale to his followers featuring a swastika and the slogan, “We will not forget Waukesha.” SITE Intel reported a similar postering campaign.
A large number of the posts on Telegram and elsewhere directly called for retribution, with many insisting that the tragedy was “payback” from BLM for Rittenhouse’s acquittal. Some insisted that it was the first strike in a coordinated ISIS-style terror attack.
Unsurprisingly, the neo-Nazis have begun to gather in Waukesha in person. On Saturday, a cluster of men from the white-nationalist NJP gathered on the lawn in front of the Waukesha County Courthouse to hold premade signs reading “Stop Anti-White Hate,” “Hate Crime Charges?,” and “Stop BLM Terror.”
The NJP, the brainchild of notorious white nationalist Mike Peinovich, is based in New York City. It asserted in a statement that the Saturday protest was “in opposition to the media and government coverup of the anti-White terror attack carried out in Waukesha on November 21 by Darrell Brooks, an anti-White militant who had been radicalized by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.” The statement went on to blame “major Jewish media outlets” for “accepting Thompson’s words and refuse to report the facts.”
The statement also claimed that “throughout the afternoon, people approached us to talk about their experiences of the attack and to thank us for speaking up.”
Following their appearance, both U.S. senators from Wisconsin, Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican Ron Johnson, issued a statement denouncing attempts to make political hay from the Waukesha calamity:
It has come to our attention that outside individuals or groups may attempt to exploit the tragedy that occurred last Sunday in Waukesha for their own political purposes. As the U.S. Senators representing Wisconsin, one from each political party, we are asking anyone considering such action to cease and desist.
Jared Holt, a researcher on the radical right for the Atlantic Council’s Digital Research Laboratory, noted on Twitter: “The Waukesha car attack has been incredibly animating for white nationalist groups and movements.”
Holt noted the NJP’s protest, adding that “there are indications that a cluster of Proud Boys chapters are headed to the area later this month.”
Published with permission of Daily Kos