Trump supporters and members of far-right groups who participated in the violent insurgency on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 raise hundreds of thousands of dollars on online crowdfunding sites by posing as slandered American patriots , martyrs and “political prisoners”.
Several of the most prominent participants in the âstop the flyâ insurgency that attempted to disrupt Joe Biden’s certification as US president are raising substantial sums at fundraising sites. These include members of the far-right Proud Boys and many people detained on January 6 in a Washington DC jail, awaiting trial for allegedly assaulting police officers.
In their appeals for donations, they are radically rewriting history. Their scripts transform January 6 from what it was – a violent attempt to overthrow the democratic results of the 2020 presidential election in Donald Trump’s name – into the fantasy that it was a peaceful and patriotic protest. to defend the integrity of voters.
“It’s shocking to say, but America now has legitimate political prisoners, in droves,” says the fundraising page called American Gulag for Jan 6 Political Prisoners which has so far raised $ 41,000. The page, created by Jim Hoft, founder of the Gateway Pundit conspiracy site, claims there are “dozens of political prisoners wrongly jailed as a result of the January 6 protesteâ.
Scott Fairlamb, The first person being convicted of assaulting a police officer, describes the insurgency on his fundraising page as the “loving American Sea, waving the American flag of the patriots who gathered from across our great nation in support of our 45e President Donald Trump â.
Fairlamb has so far raised over $ 38,000 to reach its goal of $ 100,000. He pleaded guilty assault and was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
The framing of his appeal to potential donors stands in stark contrast to what actually happened that day. Hundreds of people stormed the Capitol and five people died, including a policeman, and dozens more were injured.
Court documents Point to videos that show Fairlamb scaling scaffolding on the Capitol building and hitting and pushing a policeman on the western front of the complex. Another video shows him wielding a folding baton and shouting, âWhat are the Patriots doing? We disarm them, then we storm the fucking Capitol.
Jake Chansley, the self-styled QAnon shaman whose bearskin headdress and horns have become an enduring image of the insurgency, has so far raised over $ 10,000 on his online page, “Free Jake”. In his appeal for the money, he says he visited Washington on January 6 “responding to President Trump’s appeal to his supporters.”
He admits he walked into the Senate Chamber and sat in Vice President Mike Pence’s seat, but insists it was only to make a statement “that people showed up to the work that day “. Chansley pleaded guilty to obstruct formal proceedings and last month was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
Richard “Bigo” Barnett, who instantly rose to fame after a photo of him went viral in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with his boot on his desk, created his own personal fundraising site which aims to be a “legal defense fund”. It is not known how much he raised, but donors who give more than $ 100 are promised a signed photograph (but not the image for which it is known due to copyright issues).
In his plea for money, Barnett compares himself to Japanese Americans interned by the US government during World War II. He also quotes Thomas Paine’s Common Sense pamphlet of 1776 which defends the right of American settlers to stand up against the tyranny of the British government, saying he acted on January 6 in the same spirit – to oppose “tyranny. Which gave Biden the White House.
âRichard believes his actions were not criminal, but rather a form of constitutionally protected political protestâ¦. He asks for the support of American patriots, who embrace the kind of America that opposes the evils of communism and socialism, does not bow to him, âhe said.
Barnett, who is on bail, was accused Breaking into the Capitol carrying a walking stick from a deadly stun gun. In social media posts before the insurgency, he described himself as a “White nationalist”. By its own admission, he stole a document from Pelosi’s office and wrote her a note that he left on his desk saying, “Nancy, Bigo was there, bitch.”
One of the salient aspects of the January 6 cash call is not only the large number of fundraisers which were put in place for the people accused of having participated in the insurrection who numbered in the hundreds, but also the considerable sums they have accumulated over the months.
A collective fundraising page for the 40 or so insurgents suspected in pretrial detention has so far high over $ 268,000. Created by a group called The Patriot Freedom Project, it says the money will go to support “1 / 6ers” and their families who are “politically persecuted for resisting what they believe to be a fraudulent election. “.
A count by CNN in September estimated that the total amount raised to support those accused of the January 6 crimes may have exceeded $ 2 million.
Experts who track extremist fundraisers online warn that the impressive flow of resources to suspected violent insurgents could have long-term consequences in aiding anti-democratic movements.
Megan Squire, a senior member of the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Guardian that while the money was used for a variety of purposes, from bail and legal fees to paying bills, the scale of the funding was of concern.
âHowever it is used, there are consequences,â she said. “It definitely keeps them alive and keeps them going, which isn’t good for any of us.”
Squire said donation sites also had the effect of spreading participation in undemocratic activities by making donors feel involved. âPeople see donations to events like January 6 as a way to participate remotely,â she said.
“It’s a step forward from being a keyboard warrior to a keyboard warrior with a wallet.”
The accused insurgents have been aided in their fundraising efforts by the proliferation of sites ready to host their monetary appeals, even in several cases where individuals have pleaded guilty or received prison terms. The sites include AllFundIt, which was started by a conservative blogger who backs Trump and which hosts the Straka Fundraiser.
Our FreedomFinancing provided a lucrative platform for several of the Proud Boy extremists allegedly involved on January 6. The site is currently promoting the fundraiser of Zachary Rehl, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the far-right group, who States: “He fought for all of us, now he needs us to fight for him.”
Rehl’s fund has so far raised over $ 40,000. He is in custody, having been part of a group of Proud Boys leaders who allegedly started plotting to prevent certification of Biden’s presidential victory by Congress on election day on November 3.
On January 7, Rehl posted on social media: âI’m proud of what we accomplished yesterdayâ.
The cash-generating platform of choice for suspected insurgents is GiveSend Go, which promotes itself as the â1 free Christian crowdfunding siteâ. Today, it is home to 96 fundraising appeals related to lawsuits following the Capitol uprising.
Four of these calls each raised over $ 100,000 for their topics.
Among the 96 fundraisers are appeals to several military veterans and former law enforcement officers charged with crimes on January 6. A former army ranger, Robert morss would have used his military training to play a leading role in the organization of the violent attack on the Capitol.
Ronald mcabee, then Deputy Sheriff of Tennessee, showed up on Jan.6 dressed in his own department’s tactical gear and spiked gloves with metal knuckles. Videos show him aggression other police officers.
A medical examiner find that Sidnick died of natural causes.
The Guardian has contacted GiveSendGo co-founder Jacob Wells, but he did not respond to questions about the site’s hosting of the suspected insurgents’ appeals. In one declaration on the website he calls himself a “committed Christian” who believes “the goal is from God.”
On the website, Wells says he does not condone the use of violence for political ends and that “we unequivocally condemn those who threatened the lives of our elected leaders and the police officers who were simply doing their jobs.” He does not, however, explain why his site is always present cash calls from individuals like Scott Fairlamb who pleaded guilty and is jailed for assaulting a police officer.