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INTEL BRIEF: A neo-Nazi's COVID lie goes viral
PLUS: George Floyd statue defaced by white nationalists; federal court hearing gets Zoombombed by racist trolls; journalist follows the trail of a neo-Nazi.
— A NEO-NAZI’S COVID LIE GOES VIRAL… Internet radio host and longtime neo-Nazi Hal Turner wound up with a viral hit on his blog recently when he wrote a post misrepresenting a scientific study involving a person who received a COVID-19 vaccine and later died. The June 13 post carried the lengthy headline, “‘Global Time Bomb’ First case of postmortem study of patient vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2; ‘viral RNA found in every organ of the body.’”
As of Friday, a public page-view counter on Turner’s website showed the post had received more than 650,000 views. It gained so much attention on Facebook and elsewhere that FactCheck.org produced an article this week debunking the whole thing. However, the article didn’t mention much about Turner’s background. Turner was sentenced to almost three years in prison in 2010 for threatening to assault federal judges. It came out during the proceedings that Turner had also been working as a paid FBI informant for years, a revelation that complicated the case against him. In 2005, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Turner marched alongside the National Socialist Movement, which at the time was the nation’s largest neo-Nazi group, and threatened to lynch Blacks and Latinos.
More recently, Turner has been back to hosting his internet radio show as well as blogging frequently. Besides COVID disinfo, some of his posts have shown support for the antisemitic QAnon cult while others have called for violence against officials involved in the 2020 election. In a February post, for instance, he asked his readers: “At what point will you finally acknowledge there is no other choice but to attack and destroy by force the entities which carried out, oversaw, covered-up, and refused to peacefully redress the theft of our Presidency?”
Turner relies on donations and subscriptions to his website to stay in business. In January, he complained that he’d been kicked off PayPal. These days, he appears to be using Donorbox to process donations. The company’s acceptable use policy prohibits users from calling for violence or engaging in racial or ethnic hate. The Informant reached out to Donorbox for comment on Friday and received a response from a customer service representative using the name “Sophie K.”
“Due to the privacy rights and security of our users, we cannot discuss the specifics of Hal Turner's Donorbox account,” the representative wrote. “But, rest assured, we will reject any organization that violates our terms of service. If we find this organization guilty of such activities, we will take appropriate actions.”
— RACIST TROLLS ZOOMBOMB FEDERAL COURT HEARING… Neo-Nazi Paul Miller pleaded guilty to three gun-related charges on Tuesday in federal court in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of $250,000. The plea was expected, but the court appears to have been caught off guard by racist trolls who decided to Zoombomb the hearing, which was being held virtually. Idavox reported:
Some trolls repeatedly uttered random racist and anti-Semitic slurs and posted them on the chat. They were immediately removed. There was some concern about those viewing the hearing attempting to record the proceedings which was also illegal, and it persisted to the point that Judge Singhal allowed court officials to record the proceedings so they may be able to identify who was recording later.
— LOOKING FOR SUSPECTS… New York City police are looking for four men after a sculpture of George Floyd was vandalized and its descriptive plaque was spray painted with the words “Patriot Front” on Thursday in Brooklyn. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime. Patriot Front is the name of a white nationalist group that uses a red, white and blue facade to try to soften its image. But the group has explicitly stated that its goal is to eventually carve out an all-white nation from what it describes as the “bleeding carcass” of the United States. The group has been active in Brooklyn, hanging propaganda banners from bridges and plastering stickers in affluent neighborhoods. NYPD released footage showing the four suspects and offered a cash reward for info on the men.
— RELATED… In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, police were looking for four other men they said hung a pair of Patriot Front banners from freeway overpasses in the city, according to radio station KELO.
— YOU GOTTA READ THIS… “The race war that wasn't” was published a week ago in the Winnipeg Free Press, but it’s worth your time and attention if you haven’t read it yet. (Fair warning, there may be a paywall.) It’s a compelling narrative written by journalist Ryan Thorpe, who went undercover in 2019 and outed a Canadian military reservist who was a member of the neo-Nazi group The Base. That member, Patrik Mathews, wound up in the U.S. where he allegedly plotted to spark a race war by shooting up a pro-gun rally at the Virginia state capitol. Now that Mathews has pleaded guilty to four federal crimes, Thorpe traveled from state to state, retracing the path that Mathews took before his arrest. (As a bonus, read The Informant’s Q&A with Thorpe from last year.)
— COMING THIS WEEK ON PBS… The documentary series “Frontline” is set to premier an episode titled “Germany’s Neo-Nazis & the Far Right” on Tuesday. The trailer promises it will be a deep look at “an alarming resurgence of a violent ideology.” The episode will be on air and online.
— FIRST JAN. 6 SENTENCING… “Capitol Rioters Are Breathing a Sigh of Relief After Slap on Wrist for Grandma” (The Daily Beast)
— CORRECTING THE RECORD… “Tucker Carlson Distorted My Reporting in His Latest Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theory” (The Intercept)
— ‘FIRST AMENDMENT LIMITS’… “UMass-Lowell Can't Suspend Waltham Man With Neo-Nazi Ties” (Patch)
— 12 TO 22 YEARS IN PRISON… “3 Dallas men sentenced for 2017 attacks on gay men who were lured via Grindr app” (The Dallas Morning News)
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