He stormed the Capitol with the Proud Boys and organized for Patriot Front — but it took a traffic stop to expose Michael Jones
Video screengrab courtesy Unicorn Riot

Sheriff’s deputies in Genesee County spotted a gray Nissan Sentra driving through Leroy, a small town 30 minutes outside of Rochester, NY, in March. After the deputies observed the vehicle fail to signal before making a turn and making an evasive maneuver, the deputies initiated a traffic stop.

The driver was Michael Alan Jones, a 24-year-old North Carolina man, and his passenger was another man identified in court documents only as “PK.” What the deputies found in the Sentra was something akin to a mobile arsenal: “several knives, military surplus gear, and two compound bows.” Bolt-cutters protruded from a backpack on the floorboards of the passenger seat, where PK was sitting. Inside, the deputies found pry bars and gloves, leading them to believe they were looking at burglary tools. They also found ammunition and pepper spray in the vehicle.

When the deputies ran the plate they discovered the car wasn’t registered to Jones and had it towed. A further search of the vehicle revealed yet more hardware: Baofeng handheld radios, more knives, an Army Tactical Combat Casualty handbook, an AR-15 rifle and a 30-round magazine.

Wearing tan cargo shorts, Jones had marched with the Proud Boys in a QAnon-inspired gathering in Fayetteville, NC in August 2020, and then during a protest against COVID restrictions and the outcome of the election in Raleigh, the state capitol. Jones marched with Proud Boys again in Washington, DC on Dec. 12, 2020 at a pro-Trump rally, and then again on Jan. 5.

On the morning of Jan. 6, Jones marched to the US Capitol with hundreds of Proud Boys led by Joe Biggs and Ethan Nordean, who are now in jail awaiting trial on charges of seditious conspiracy. Dressed in the same tan cargo shorts, but also with a heavy black sweatshirt and black balaclava, Jones joined a pitched battle against police on the West Plaza, alongside Proud Boys Matthew Greene and Dominic Pezzola, the latter whom would later bust out a window to enable the first wave of rioters to enter the building. Jones pulled away barricades at the police line on the West Plaza and later entered the Capitol from the northwest courtyard side door. He was seen later carrying out a broken furniture leg. That evening, Jones was arrested by DC Metropolitan police for violating curfew.

Summary of #ScarFaceHoodie aka Michael Jones' activities at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021Courtesy of jan6attack.com

Dozens of members and associates of the Proud Boys, a street-fighting group renowned for instigating fights with left-wing counter-protesters and interposing in local controversies to heighten tension, have received federal charges in connection with the attack on the Capitol. But, Jones is not among them.

Since Jan. 6, Jones has become active with Patriot Front, a fascist group with more pronounced white supremacist views than the Proud Boys. Compared with the Proud Boys, Patriot Front utilizes a tighter command structure and places a higher premium on secrecy while undertaking its primary activities — highly choreographed flash rallies, physical fitness drills meant to build group cohesion, and propaganda campaigns to promote the organization’s white supremacist agenda.

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Jones’ identity as a Patriot Front member was first reported by a loose collective of antifascist researchers in North Carolina through a dox on Twitter last month. As early as March 2021, the Twitter accounts @K2theSky, @MasaSpalatin and @CoryCullington have been tracking Jones’ movements at the Capitol using his nickname #ScarFaceHoodie, and eventually connecting him to Patriot Front. Raw Story has independently confirmed the claims of both research teams.

To date, Jones’ activity with the Proud Boys and Patriot Front has generated no federal charges, but the deputies responsible for the traffic stop earlier this year determined that the AR-15 and magazine were in violation of the New York State SAFE Act due to modifications on the rifle. As a result, he was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.

The state charge attracted the attention of an FBI special agent in Rochester who discovered that Jones had been convicted of a felony in North Carolina in 2019. The conviction arose from a 2017 arrest in Alamance County for statutory sex offense when Jones was accused of having sex with a 15-year-old and a 14-year-old when he was 19 and 18, respectively. The discovery of Jones’ 2019 felony conviction in North Carolina resulted in a complaint in federal court in the Western District of New York on June 3 for knowingly and unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.

Matthew Kriner, a senior research scholar at the Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said what’s notable about Jones’ case is that his involvement with the Proud Boys and Patriot Front wasn’t what prompted a law enforcement investigation and arrest.

“The reality is that many of the contemporary threats of violent extremist networks are brazenly operating with little check on their violent extremist activities,” Kriner told Raw Story. “Instead, far too often we have to rely on incidental arrests stemming from traffic violations and firearms violations to mitigate threats.”

Kriner said Jones’ case exemplifies how “militant accelerationist actors and networks” are “integrated” into a broader milieu of extremist activity. Far-right activists have historically demonstrated a high degree of cross-membership in different organizations due to egotism and infighting, but Kriner added that “we are seeing an uptick in network and group partnerships or mergers between entities that are accelerationist in nature.”

Last week, Jones appeared before a federal magistrate judge in Rochester and waived his right to a detention hearing. His lawyer, Steven Slawinski, told the judge that Jones doesn’t have a place to stay in New York state were he to be released, and that he is interested in a plea deal.

“Thank you, your honor,” Jones said after the judge set a new date for a status hearing on Aug. 30.

Slawinski declined a request from Raw Story for an interview with Jones.

Samantha Kutner, who co-authored a report for the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, described the Proud Boys as a “radicalization vector” whose appeal to potential recruits is “the opportunity to engage in violent shows of force against antifascists.”

Leaked chats from Patriot Front’s private communications on the RocketChat app, that were published by the media collective Unicorn Riot earlier this year, reveals a personnel pipeline from the Proud Boys to Patriot Front, as members gravitate towards an increasingly hardline ideology. Both groups have ties to the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va.

While the Proud Boys leadership publicly disavowed Unite the Right, members including future national chairman Enrique Tarrio attended the rally. James Fields Jr. rallied with Patriot Front predecessor Vanguard America before murdering antiracist protester Heather Heyer. In the aftermath of the deadly attack, Vanguard America collapsed and Patriot Front was founded by a Texan named Thomas Rousseau as a splinter group.

In a report to Rousseau on Nov. 19, 2021, a member identified as “Ben MD” disclosed that previously held an “official role in the leadership team of the MD/DC chapter” of the Proud Boys. The crossover between Patriot Front and the Maryland-DC Proud Boys chapter was on display in late January 2022 when two men wearing skull masks heckled counter-protesters as a detachment of Patriot Front members marched alongside the anti-choice March for Life in Washington, DC. Two days later, the two men joined the local Proud Boys chapter at an anti-vaccination rally at the Lincoln Memorial. The Maryland-DC Proud Boys chapter later validated one of the men by including him in a group shot shared on the group’s Telegram channel.

“Respect remains with the only members whose opinions I care for, so I think the split went as smoothly as could have,” “Ben MD” told Rousseau in November 2021. “I miss a few guys, but I don’t miss the club. A shame to see genuine potential flounder in a drinking club. Honestly, I felt a great relief distancing myself from a group with such low standards of opsec and discipline. I haven’t made any effort to recruit from that pool because I don’t think any of them would be a good fit for us.”

In a private chat between Casey James Knuteson, a Patriot Front member in Oregon, and a chapter leader identified as “Samuel VA,” the two men bonded over their shared history in the Proud Boys.

“I have your back brother, as one former PB to another and a Man of the Front,” “Samuel” told Knuteson. “We do not run…. We lock arms and stand our ground.”

“They accusing me of running a fake doxing account,” Knuteson responded. “They’re probably trying to sow dissent b/w us and the proudboys…. The PBs here already don’t like me. They’re the ones that started the rumor that the account belongs to me…. They hate PF here…. They’ve actually covered up my stencils before and posted it on Twitter.”

In another instance, Patriot Front members in Michigan looked at a Proud Boys chapter that gained notoriety by placing “Afghan refugee hunting permit” stickers around the University of Michigan as a potential recruiting pool.

After speaking to the leader of the Proud Boys chapter, a Patriot Front member identified as “Benjamin MI” reported that all the members were ineligible to join Patriot Front because they were over the age of 35.

“They broke off from the state PB after [the stickering incident],” “Benjamin MI” reported to “Alan MI.” “He says they all love PF and follow us on Telegram. They aren’t as serious as PF, meaning they are more for trolling.”

The massive leak of Patriot Front includes two videos that show Michael Jones, who had rallied with the Proud Boys in late 2020 and early 2021, participating in banner drops with Patriot Front to promote the group’s white supremacist agenda in two South Carolina cities: Columbia and Greenville. Another shows Jones and Charles Conry, the network director for the Carolinas, casing a park in Sylva, NC as they planned to vandalize a sculpture honoring abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman.

The video shows Jones, who is wearing a T-shirt inscribed with the words “Legalize Arson,” and Conry discussing options for cutting the power for the lighting around a pavilion near the sculpture to provide a cover of darkness.

Conry and Jones, who was known by his Patriot Front moniker “Adam NC,” wound up abandoning the planned vandalism, Conry explained to Rousseau in a Dec. 11 chat, after they became suspicious of the behavior of a fellow Patriot Front member named “James NC.”

“He has very odd filming habits referring specifically to the Harriet Tubman statue scouting mission that Adam NC and myself planned in Sylva, NC, which James was also late to and he filmed our faces and us talking while scouting the area, which made us feel uncomfortable and then bailed shortly after when we had pre-planned banner drop,” Conry told Rousseau. “Adam then asked him for the footage and he took a week to send it to Adam. At that point, neither Adam nor myself felt comfortable completing and further planning in dealing with the statue, which would have undoubtedly led to further membership.”

Jones rose to sufficient stature in Patriot Front that he was entrusted with coordinating communications for the organization’s Dec. 4, 2021 flash rally in Washington, DC. Jones’ responsibilities included allocating Baofeng radios to each chapter leader, known as network directors in Patriot Front parlance.

“Mike ID and I have gotten the comms stuff for the December event all figured out,” Jones told Rousseau on Nov. 16, 2021, referring to an Idaho member who was partnering with him on the project. “We should be completely good to go and all that’s really left is reminding all the network directors and everyone to actually bring all their equipment. We’re both confident that we are all squared away, and you shouldn’t have a thing to worry about!”

Rousseau congratulated his foot soldiers during a Dec. 10 national voice chat, trying to put a positive spin on the damage inflicted on members’ vehicles by antifascist opponents.

“So, our opposition decided to find further covert, nefarious, slithering, slimy means to impair us, and we have discovered their methods and countered them,” Rousseau said. “Everything that they had, all their earthly willpower, possessions and resources were bent towards the singular motive of stopping us. And it wasn’t enough. Every single thing they could throw at us thrashed against our will, our brotherhood. Like a storm on a stone, there was nothing that they could do to break our spirits and at their very best, they cost us some time and money. Replaceable things, not you men.”

For Jones, the DC rally ended in calamity. About three hours into the trip back home, he started experiencing acute pain in his legs, and Conry dropped him off at a hospital in Wytheville, Va. It is unclear whether he remained active with Patriot Front since that time.

“I’m not sure if you heard, but Adam NC could be out for a little while,” Conry told Rousseau three days after the national audio chat. “Something weird happened with his health on the way back from Virginia. He had to go to the hospital. Now he says he’s going to do acute rehab and psychical [sic] therapy after a few surgeries. He said he was insured and could have an autoimmune disorder.”

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