Weekly: 21 Jun 21

This week, a brief update covering some of the following:

  • Several police officers face consequences related to J6 riot
  • Ex-police chief uses charity to fund violence
  • Oath Keepers organization in turmoil, founder used funds from it on non-OK related goods

Police, III%, and J6

A Chicago police officer, Karol Chwiesiuk, who claimed he “knocked out a commie” during his involvement in the riot at the US Capitol Building in DC was just arrested. Chwiesiuk also reportedly used racist epithets in messages, initially saying in DC that, “There’s so many blacks here I’m actually in disbelief,” then a week later after charges started arising, “N– don’t snitch”.

An ex-police chief from California, Alan Hostetter, was just released on bail this past week. He is one of six California men associated with the III% militia movement charged with conspiracy earlier this month. Hostetter is under more legal pressure as he apparently illegally used a tax-exempt charity he formed called the “American Phoenix Project” to fund violence and obviously partisan work on behalf of Trump. According to federal prosecutors, Hostetter made public speeches as a representative of the charity in which he talked about “execution” regarding those who wouldn’t overturn the election. Hostetter is also a white Yogi, who ran a yoga studio called “Alpha Yoga”.

Russell Taylor, an organizing colleague of Hostetter in Orange County Stop the Steal and anti-lockdown demonstrations, may have set up a chat group on Telegram to “organize a group of ‘fighters’ to travel to D.C. with weapons”. Taylor was also a leader of the American Phoenix Project with Hostetter. Taylor, in a message to Hostetter, confessed, “We were meant to come together to be engaged in this war at this time… it is an honor to be shoulder to shoulder with you”.

Visual of the throughline that Hostetter and Taylor’s organizing relationship carries between anti-lockdown demonstrations in CA and their participation in the J6 riot in DC

The US county with the most charges related to J6 is Franklin County, OH at 7, followed by Los Angeles, CA; Erie, NY; and Bucks, PA at 6 arrestees. This puts Bucks County, Pennsylvania at a rate of about 1 arrestee per 100,000 residents, perhaps also pointing to how important interpersonal networks likely are for motivating activity among these actors.

Oath Keepers updates

According to recent reporting in Reuters, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (a Republican) detailed some of the specifics of threats and attempted violence against him and his family for his refusal to overturn the Georgia election. Raffernsperger said that Oath Keepers apparently came by his house in late November. When they were confronted by police outside of his house, the out-of-state Oath Keepers then claimed they were there to protect the governor from “BLM”, a dubious claim at best.

Virginia Senator Joe Morrissey just won a restraining order against David Briggman, a former president of Virginia’s Oath Keepers chapter. Most of the order seems to come in reaction to a violent tweet and a threatening call over the phone. Another element of the order seems partially in reaction to FOIA requests against Morrissey’s office regarding the senator’s biggest campaign donor, Nexus Services, which has been accused of exploiting immigrants. Briggman, who is politically angry against Morrissey and Nexus, is also a former employee of the company.

Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys are experiencing a major financial squeeze and chaos among their ranks as their online networks are cut over and over again. The Wall Street Journal reports on a lot of these updates here. Within the story, though, are numerous juicy bits, such as Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes apparently using some of the Oath Keepers’ money at a sex shop.

Further reading: