Vic Mackey's red flag

The neo-Nazi leader known as "Vic Mackey" is fighting a court order that would bar him from possessing guns for up to a year.

— A CASE TO WATCH… Neo-Nazi leader Andrew Casarez, better known as his online persona “Vic Mackey,” will be fighting today to overturn an emergency court order that would bar him from possessing guns for up to a year.

WHEN AND WHERE… His lawyer is scheduled to argue against the order at a 10 a.m. PT hearing in California’s Sacramento Superior Court.

THE BACK STORY… Until recently, Casarez was arguably the most infamous neo-Nazi in the United States who’d still managed to hang onto his anonymity. Using the name Vic Mackey, he led a mostly online neo-Nazi group called the Bowl Patrol and he preached that mass shootings and acts of terrorism would usher in an all-white ethnostate. He held up mass shooters as “saints” of the cause, and he claimed to have influenced the gunman who carried out multiple killings at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018.

Last month, however, anonymous researchers unmasked Vic Mackey’s real name. Calling themselves the Anonymous Comrades Collective, they said they followed a trail of digital breadcrumbs that led to Casarez, a 27-year-old who lives in Orangevale, California, with his parents.

TAKING IT TO COURT… Six days later, on July 13, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office filed an emergency gun violence restraining order, better known as a red flag order, against Casarez. It’s a preventative measure that allows law enforcement to seize guns from a person they believe is a danger to themselves or others. In the order, a sergeant wrote: “Now that Casarez has been outed as a white supremacist and he has lost his anonymity there is a likelihood that he could become a ‘lone wolf’ attacker to prove his status to the cause.”

On July 15, with a search warrant in hand along with the red flag order, the sheriff’s office raided Casarez’s house and seized a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and two magazines. They also found a T-shirt with the Bowl Patrol logo on the front.

FIGHTING BACK… Casarez ended up hiring Sacramento criminal defense attorney Alan Donato to try to get the red flag order overturned. The hearing in front of Judge David De Alba began last week on August 13, but a series of technical problems and other issues meant the judge had to pause the hearing midway through and pick it up again this week. The judge asked the parties to show up in person for today’s proceedings, but Donato indicated Casarez would likely stay away from the courtroom over fears of media attention.

THE DOCUMENTS… Below are key documents in the case that have been obtained by The Informant.

Also on my radar…

— FACEBOOK’S ‘BOTH SIDES’ MOMENT… Facebook set off a fresh wave of criticism on Wednesday when the company announced it was banning a number of left-wing groups, including some connected to the anti-fascist movement, as part of a broader purge aimed at organizations that have “demonstrated significant risks to public safety.” The move affected larger outfits like It’s Going Down, the anarchist news site, as well as smaller groups such as various John Brown Gun Clubs.

One problem was that Facebook’s announcement and its stated criteria for banning such groups was murky at best. The company said it was targeting accounts that, among other things, “have celebrated violent acts” or that have “followers with patterns of violent behavior.”

But another problem was that the move echoed the “both sides” approach that the Trump administration has used to distract from the bigger issue of right-wing violence. In fact, Facebook’s own count of the groups and pages that were targeted in its latest purge lumped left-wing anti-fascist groups in with right-wing militia organizations, making no distinction between the two. (The social media giant later told The Informant that the majority of the take downs in the category were related to militia groups, including major ones like the Oath Keepers, and not anti-fascist groups.)

THE BOTTOM LINE… It’s true that Facebook has taken action against some extremists on the far right, including “boogaloo” groups. But the move on Wednesday also belied studies, like one cited by The Guardian last month, that show there have been zero killings by anti-fascist groups in the past 25 years while there were more than 320 killings tied to right-wing violence.

NO CHEESESTEAK IN JAIL… The saga of border vigilante Jim Benvie took another turn on Tuesday when a federal judge in New Mexico ordered him to be held in jail for violating the terms of his release. Benvie was found guilty earlier this year on two counts of impersonating a Border Patrol agent. While awaiting sentencing, the judge had allowed Benvie to live in a halfway house in Albuquerque and work at a cheesesteak shop there. But Benvie apparently blew it when he cut out of work early one day and didn’t tell the halfway house. He’ll remain in federal custody until his sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled.

CHEESESTEAK ADJACENT… “New Mexico Republicans to pay ‘special tribute’ to militia founded by neo-Confederate, alongside Cowboys for Trump leader who said Black athletes should ‘go back to Africa’” (Business Insider)

VIRAL… “The Militias Against Masks” (The New Yorker)

BIG BOOGALOO… “The Chaos Agents” (The New York Times Magazine)

BIG TECH… “Facebook algorithm found to ‘actively promote’ Holocaust denial” (The Observer)

NEO-NAZI IN THE RANKS… “‘Satanist’ Ex-Soldier Sentenced to 2 1/2 Years in Bomb Plot” (Associated Press)

DIGGING DEEP… “Racist and Anti-Semitic Internet Troll Brags in Private He Works for Infowars” (Right Wing Watch)

DEEP IN MAGA WORLD… “OANN’s Jack Posobiec Filmed an Interview Segment with White Nationalist Stefan Molyneux” (Hatewatch)

UNREST IN THE U.S.… “Far-right demonstrators, counter-protesters and police clash in multiple states” (USA Today)

HOLLYWOOD HATE CRIME… “Hate crime investigation underway after transgender women robbed, beaten in Hollywood” (Los Angeles Times)

A BIG STEP… “Arkansas introduces hate crime legislation backed by governor, attorney general” (WATV-TV)

A PANDEMIC… “NYPD creates Asian Hate Crime Task Force after spike in anti-Asian attacks during Covid-19 pandemic” (CNN)

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