November 29, 2022

PARLER SWEEP: Warrants issued for proof of Proud Boys plot to overthrow the government

PARLER SWEEP: Warrants issued for proof of Proud Boys plot to overthrow the government

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Right wing social media cesspool Parler has been hit with search warrants aimed at White Nationalist group members involved in the January 6th Capitol attack. Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio, charged with seditious conspiracy for his role in the insurrection, was named among those who used the right-wing platform to call for violence leading up to the attempt to overthrow the 2020 election.

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Five Proud Boys—including Tarrio, the group’s former leader—are each facing nine or more charges for their alleged actions on Jan. 6. Prosecutors say the group engaged in seditious conspiracy when they allegedly plotted to storm the Capitol and prevent lawmakers from certifying President Joe Biden’s election.

Despite attempts by Proud Boys to hide their evidence, prosecutors pushed back, using the Proud Boys’ own communications against them, citing evidence from messages exchanged on the app and encrypted communications on Telegram.

“Take for example the government’s evidence of video messages exchanged among MOSD Leaders during the initial moments of the riot,” prosecutors wrote of the Ministry of Self Defense, a Proud Boys chat group allegedly used in coordinating the Capitol attack. “The video is direct evidence of the MOSD leadership’s command and control of the men they led to the Capitol and includes real-time reactions from co-conspirator Charles Donohoe and directives from coconspirator Jeremy Bertino. The government can do little about the fact that the screen name assigned to Charles Donohoe in the message string was ‘Cracker Ni**er Fa**ot’.”

Ethan “Rufio Panman” Nordean, a defendant in the trial, was arrested in February 2021 for his role in the insurrection. One of the messages read, “Rufio is in charge, cops are the primary threat, don’t get caught by them or BLM, don’t get drunk until off the street.” Nordean tried to have evidence excluded from the trial claiming, “unfair bias.”

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In May, Rolling Stone reported that the former head of Parler, John Matze, was subpoenaed to testify before the Jan. 6 Committee about the use of the platform by alt-right hate groups to spread incendiary speech and coordinate the Capitol attack.

Over 500 videos of the breach were uploaded to Parler in the days following the attempted coup. ProPublica reported:

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The videos from Parler range in intensity, from frenetic, violent snippets of people clashing with police near the inaugural platform and rioters demanding to be led to the House chamber where the joint session of Congress was being held, to more prosaic clips of crowd members milling around, far from the action.

A number of the videos capture threats to harm lawmakers, and a handful catch the kinds of behavior — smashing windows, assaulting police — that has led to criminal charges against dozens of people. It is not yet clear if law enforcement officials used the Parler videos to identify suspects, though the programmer says the FBI has access to the material.

Parler was removed from major app stores after the Capitol attack for “egregious content,” and ” threats of violence of illegal activity.” The social media platform has since been reinstated and ostracized antisemite Kanye West has expressed intentions to purchase it. 

As the Department of Justice ramps up its investigation into the coordinated effort to overthrow democracy, Parler is in the cross hairs – and not without good reason. Hate speech isn’t free speech. Words have consequences, and so does treason.

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Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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