Anonymous neo-Nazis on Telegram attempting to organize simultaneous "White Lives Matter" rallies scheduled for Sunday in cities across the United States are pledging to bring weapons in an anticipated clash with antifascist counter-protesters.
"Always be prepared to defend yourself," the primary organizing channel for the nationwide project account advised in an "OpSec" guide posted on the social media app Telegram on Tuesday. "Preferably a sidearm but sometimes you'll have to settle for a knife, mace, taser."
Among the channels set up on Telegram for local events in dozens of cities across the United States, many had attracted fewer than 10 subscribers and showed little activity to suggest actual people will show up on Sunday. The organizing model works like a franchise system, allowing anyone with plausible online persona to claim a channel for a specific city or state, and some of the channels have sputtered out as the operators revealed themselves to be infiltrators or simply went dark, leaving their genuine white supremacist members hanging. In other cities, local organizers who are apparently legitimate are publicly conceding there isn't enough interest to justify an in-person gathering.
But in one city, Raleigh, NC, the messaging on the local organizing channel is become increasingly emboldened.
"This is a rally we need to be hyped up and let them people know who we are, why we are there and make the enemy fear us and know we are not going anywhere," wrote a Telegram user named "Ride_The_Bolts," who has claimed responsibility for the WLM Raleigh NC channel, on Tuesday. "Ride_The_Bolts" admonished that "not helping with security" is among the behaviors that "will not be tolerated," while concluding, "I want this to be peaceful, but come prepared to fight if we have to. We have all had enough of this shit that is this modern world. The 11th is the day that will mark the end of it. If and only if we stand with each other we will get this done for our people our culture and our homelands."
"Ride_The_Bolts" recommended that participants bring mace, pepper spray, batons and riot shields for self-defense, but not guns (North Carolina law prohibits carrying dangerous weapons at a demonstration) or baseball bats.
Suggested flags and banners include the Confederate battle flag and "any fascist flags" with the exception of the swastika (too alienating to potential recruits), but the black sun, or sonnenrad, is fine. Skull masks to preserve anonymity are preferred, but gaiters and bandannas are also acceptable. "Dark or all black clothing" is recommended, "Ride_The_Bolts" said, "because I am being a fashy nerd."
The organizer has said they hope to draw more than 50 people to the event. By Wednesday, the channel had grown to 41 subscribers, although a portion of them are likely infiltrators. Among the Telegram users who have expressed interest in the rally, "Dan D" wrote on Tuesday: "Coming to Raleigh with like-minded Army buddies this weekend."
Antifascists are using Twitter to mobilize opposition against the "White Lives Matter" rally. An April 2 tweet by the Raleigh Antifascists account calling for "community defense against white supremacy" has been retweeted almost 90 times. Another antifascist account is calling for a "trans-only gathering and march to counter-protest the white supremacist rally," with the slogan "Be trans, throw hands."
Donna-maria Harris, a spokesperson for the Raleigh Police Department, told Raw Story the agency is aware of the planned white supremacist rally. She said the department does not share operational plans or strategies in advance.
"We can say that the department personnel responsible for planning consider all factors, including all the events that have happened elsewhere, as we make planning and staffing decisions," Harris said.
Beyond Raleigh, the most active group appears to be in Ohio. With 51 subscribers as of Wednesday, the admin was running a poll to determine whether to hold the rally in Columbus, Akron or Toledo. Previously, the admin for the channel had posted a map with a proposed march route from Schiller Park to the Governor's Mansion in Columbus.
A user in the Ohio chat named "Nate Markinson" said he plans to bring a concealed firearm, and vowed that when the police come for him, he will be prepared with an "exit route… even change of clothes in my bag. Hoody and sweats. Fast change."
Sgt. J. Alicia, a spokesperson for the Columbus Police Department, said the agency is aware of the event.
Participants in the Ohio chat predicted the "White Lives Matter" rally in Michigan will be even more violent.
"I hear Detroit is going to get really bad," "Nate Markinson" said. "Antifa is pulling in a lot."
"Oh yeah, it's definitely going to get rowdy over there," replied "ITALIAN_CRUSADER," who is the admin for the WLMOhio channel.
The WLM Michigan channel was running a poll among its members, with Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo among the contenders for the location of the rally. As of Wednesday, a decision had not been announced.
Some local event organizers, including the admins for New York City and North Dakota, have instructed prospective attendees to watch the channels for information about the location a couple of days in advance. Meanwhile, the hosts' rallies in Houston and in Massachusetts are instructing attendees to direct-message them for details.
The local organizing channel for the Orange County rally in southern California had previously announced that the event would take place at the Huntington Beach Pier, but the primary organizing channel later announced that "the location will probably be announced the night before or the morning of." The upcoming "White Lives Matter" rally has drawn condemnation from members of the Huntington Beach City Council. Residents also reported receiving Ku Klux Klan fliers on Easter.
This Philadelphia event appears to be in shambles.
"Philly organizer needs to get his shit together," wrote a user named "Andrew Smith," who was banned from the local channel. "It's embarrassing us, and my spies in Philly antifa chats are becoming more emboldened. If the organizer won't clean up his mess, someone needs to take over. We're running out of time." Then, linking to an antifascist Twitter account, he complained, "They are mocking us publicly now."
Another user named "Boog1988" lamented that it "shouldn't be that hard to solve" the administrative dysfunction. "Or if that's not working, just pick a location here for the rest of us and let him do his thing," he wrote. "This is getting exhausting."
Meanwhile, the WLM Oregon channel was so thoroughly compromised by antifascist infiltrators that it became useless.
"Hello, we have received complling [sic] information that ANTIFA have infiltrated our chat channel and are using the information to DOX members," the admin wrote on March 31. "It will be deleted ASAP." The admin promised that "the rally will continue as previously discussed," but no further details have been disclosed.
Then, on Easter Sunday, the admin warned: "Do not attend this event in Portland. It is a FAKE and is not organized by any official WLM organization."
Neo-Nazis have aborted plans to organize local rallies in at least three other areas after they discovered that the channels were being run by antifascists double agents.
As of Wednesday, there was no officially sanctioned Seattle event, and a Telegram user named "Tango Romeo" lamented, "Looks like wlmseattle is usurped by antifa. Damn. Was gonna send my friend the page to join around her local area."
On the channel for Springfield, Mo., the last post was made on April 1: "Admin will be gone for two weeks."
The WLM NJ channel was launched on March 25 with a pledge from the anonymous admin: "Action planning is in the works, updates will be posted in the coming weeks."
Then, on Easter Sunday, the profile photo for the channel abruptly changed to an image of white supremacist Richard Spencer getting punched in the face.
"People planning on going to these WLM events IRL should really be asking themselves: 'Is it a good idea to show up to a white power action with randos I've met on the internet?'" the admin wrote. "The answer is, obviously, no."
The organizers behind the primary organizing channel have attempted to spin the anonymity and lack of vetting as a clever cooptation of leftist tactics.
"Decentralized and anonymous movements are the future of politics," the admin posted on the primary organizing channel on April 1. "The Occupy Wall Street movement, Arab Spring, BLM protests, and the Hong Kong protests are a few examples of successful spontaneous decentralized movements. For right or wrong, it works."
In another post, they wrote: "We've seen this happen over and over again. A good-intentioned organization is founded and at its start everyone is enthusiastic. However, as time goes by, the anti-white system attacks the leadership of that organization until it renders it impotent."
It's a stance that has come in handy as other prominent white supremacists publicly shun the "White Lives Matter" rallies.
One of the local rallies was organized by a Telegram user who used the logo of the National Justice Party. The political party was founded by Mike Peinovich, a podcaster who has trafficked in Holocaust denial and antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Peinovich responded with a stern Telegram post, stating, "The NJP has no contact with this individual or anyone associated with 'White Lives Matter.' We do not endorse this event because we don't know anything about it and we have no contact with the planners. We have not given permission for our logo or name to be used in conjunction with this event."
The "White Lives Matter" organizers protested that the mobilization for the rallies arose out an organic expression of white people, not due to the efforts of any particular group, "Proud Boy" or "e-celebrity."
A handful of Telegram users with Proud Boys symbols and slogans, including Northern Virginia chapter President Hampton Russell Ouelette, participated in the chats early in the planning, but stopped commenting after March 31.
With the launch of its Instagram account on Monday, the "White Lives Matter" organizers appeared to be courting the Groyper movement by following accounts of people who either specifically identify as Groypers or who are closely associated with the movement.
Nick Fuentes, the Groypers leader, responded to the overture on his live show on Tuesday evening. He read aloud from a comment by a chat participant: "Saw White Lives Matter marches being organized on Telegram from April 11th. Should Groypers stay away?"
"Yeah," Fuentes responded, "I think that's gonna be not a good scene, in my opinion."