More than a year after a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, its cheerleaders are still being arrested for alleged racist attacks.
Brandon Higgs, 24, was arrested in December after he allegedly hurled racist slurs at construction workers in suburban Baltimore and shot one. Four new hate crime charges were added to his case last week. Higgs had a long history with hate, chat logs from 2017 reveal. Those chats, where he talked of murdering black and Jewish people, reveal his connection to a network of other prominent racists, several of whom have been charged or convicted in violent attacks since the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.
The December incident allegedly began when Higgs walked a dog through wet concrete that black construction workers were pouring on a driveway. Higgs allegedly addressed the workers with racist slurs and told them to “go back to Africa.” He allegedly went home, got a handgun, and came back to the site, where he resumed insulting the workers and shoved one before drawing the gun on them. He allegedly shot one of the workers during the struggle.
Higgs, who pleaded not guilty, claims he fired in self-defense after the men attacked him. He faces two counts of attempted murder and first-degree assault, in addition to the new hate crime charges. For Higgs’ hate crime charges to stick, a jury will have to rule that he attacked the black construction workers on the base of their race.
While planning for Unite the Right, Higgs had also spoke about murdering black people. “Brb hookjng [sic] up my n***er mulcher to the truck,” he wrote in a chat group for people planning Unite the Right in July 2017. Those logs were leaked to the media collective Unicorn Riot.Elsewhere in the months of leaked chats, he discussed gassing Jewish people and attacking Baltimore’s black population with bear traps, using the name “Americana - MD.” The Daily Beast verified his identity because, among references to his job and military service, he posted pictures of himself in the leaked logs.
One picture Higgs shared in June showed him marching a white supremacist rally in Pennsylvania. He was carrying the flag of Vanguard American, the fascist organization that James Fields Jr. marched with at Unite the Right before he murdered an anti-racist demonstrator.
Elsewhere in the chats, Higgs discussed attending other racist rallies. On April 15, 2017, he posted about arriving with Eli Mosley (the then-leader of white nationalist group Identity Evropa) in Washington, D.C. to attend a rally with white nationalist Richard Spencer.
On June 25, he attended another Spencer rally. This event was attended by Jeffrey and Edward Clark, a pair of neo-Nazi D.C. brothers who were well-connected in racist circles before Unite the Right. (The Huffington Post reported that they worked for Pizzagate hoaxer Jack Posobiec.) A photo from the event shows Higgs waving a flag behind Jeffrey Clark. (Higgs attempted to conceal his face with a bandana, but revealed a tattoo he posted in the leaked chat logs.)
The Clark brothers became infamous in late 2018. Edward, 23, killed himself hours after neo-Nazi Robert Bowers allegedly massacred 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue. The Clark brothers and Bowers appeared to be connected on the extremist-friendly social media site Gab, leading to speculation that Edward and Bowers had communicated prior to the attack. In December, Jeffrey Clark was arrested on weapons charges. The 30-year-old had openly praised Bowers on Gab, and had allegedly plotted to “expedite” a race war with an attack of his own.
In the leaked chat logs, Higgs addressed a man who appeared to be Edward Clark multiple times. “Can me and Eddie switch spots?” he asked in response to a now-deleted picture, apparently of a white supremacist rally. “I want to shoot the k*ke.”
These spring 2017 meetups were early efforts by extremists who united under the broad “alt-right” label. The rallies were short, and usually limited to people who participated in the private group chats. But Unite the Right that August was supposed to be the group’s public coming-out. There, far-right leaders like Spencer and Mosley marched alongside then-unknown racists like the Clark brothers and Higgs, as well James Fields Jr., and Taylor Wilson, a white supremacist who in October 2017 attempted to hijack an Amtrak train.