Experts say the deadly insurrection at the Capitol marks the start of a new era of violent extremism and should serve as a wakeup call to those who have ignored the warnings.
“It’s an absolutely new ballgame,” said Devin Burghart of the Institute for Research and Education, which tracks far-right activity.
“What was on display Wednesday in many respects is the beginning of a new movement, not the end of an old one.”
Burghart’s comments, reported by the Kansas City Star, came as an Associated Press analysis of the 120 people arrested so far in connection with the Jan. 6 assault identified most of them as longtime supporters of President Trump.
The analysis by the Associated Press effectively contradicts claims that leftist or antifa protesters were instigators of the violence, reports The Hill.
He said the nation’s response will determine whether the movement takes hold. “Left unchecked, this newly forming movement could become something far worse than any we’ve ever seen,” he says. Last week’s events “could look tame compared to what we could experience in the near future.”
Watchdog groups have been warning that violence could escalate before the November election and beyond. Burghart’s organization has tracked a sharp increase in paramilitary groups. Violence directed at government buildings has been on the rise. Among the most recent incidents occurred in Salem, Or., when Proud Boys, Three Percenters and militia activists invaded the state capitol.
Burghart’s organization documented 45 “Stop the Steal” rallies that took place in 32 states on the day of the U.S. Capitol invasion. Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino said, “We had this locomotive train of ideology and subcultures, some of which were really different—but they all were looking at things like a purge, a storm, a Civil War.”
Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said two images “that were the most shocking to me [were] the hangman’s noose on the western front of the Capitol … as well as people brandishing Confederate flags in the U.S. Capitol. We fought an entire Civil War to prevent exactly that from happening.”
The Associated Press reviewed the social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records of 120 individuals suspected of being involved with the riots at the Capitol building and concluded that most backed the president.
The 120 people included Republican Party officials, GOP political donors, far-right militants, white supremacists and those who believe in QAnon, a theory that Satan-worshipping pedophiles control the government, the AP found.
Many of the rioters were found to have submitted posts in support of Trump’s unfounded claims that he won the election. Several of the posts involved threats of violence against Democrats or Republicans considered not on the president’s side.
Some continued to post even after the rampage.
Records indicate that some of the rioters are accused of being heavily armed, including Lonnie Leroy Coffman and Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., both supporters of the president.
Federal authorities have spanned out across 24 states and the District of Columbia to make arrests, reports USA Today.
On Sunday, authorities arrested Eric Munchel of Tennessee and Larry Brock of Texas. Munchel was allegedly the man shown in photos dressed in black, carrying plastic restraints and a vest with a cell phone mounted to his chest.
Brock was allegedly the man identified wearing a green helmet, green tactical vest with patches and a camo jacket. FBI agent Steven D’Antuono said that even if you have “left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out that you were part of the criminal activity at the Capitol.”
On Saturday, authorities arrested Jacob Anthony Chansley, a.k.a. Jake Angeli, of Arizona, the man seen wearing red, white and blue face paint and a bearskin headdress with horns in viral photos from the Capitol. Others arrested include Richard Barnett of Arkansas, who was photographed holding mail from Pelosi’s office, and Derrick Evans, a recently elected West Virginia legislator who resigned on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Parler, the social networking site reportedly used by the protesters who overran the Capitol to coordinate their efforts, was taken offline early Monday morning after Amazon.com Inc. and Google withdrew their support, according to Bloomberg.
Parler Chief Executive Officer John Matze said the company had sought alternatives after it was notified by Amazon it would terminate its cloud computing support this weekend. Google and Apple have banned Parler from their app stores, so the site can not be downloaded.
“We will likely be down longer than expected,” Matze wrote in a post on his network before Amazon restricted hosting. “This is not due to software restrictions — we have our software and everyone’s data ready to go. Rather it’s that Amazon’s, Google’s and Apple’s statements to the press about dropping our access has caused most of our other vendors to drop their support for us as well.”
Twitter has permanently banned President Trump from its platform, as has Facebook.