Bitcoin donations to white supremacists are up during a series of far-right rallies leading up to the one-year anniversary of the deadly Charlottesville rally.
The cryptocurrency is beloved by the racist right for its bank-free, mostly anonymous nature. With online payment platforms like PayPal refusing to serve white supremacists, cryptocurrency allows racists to collect money from anonymous donors in digital bitcoin wallets, the contents of which are available for anyone to see. The Twitter account Neonazi BTC Tracker monitors a group of white supremacists’ wallets, and tweets when they receive a new payment. And new analysis from Forbes suggests prominent racists are cashing in on a spike of white supremacist activity this month.
The organizers of Unite the Right, the deadly Charlottesville rally, are hosting a sequel event directly outside the White House this weekend. The rally comes one week after far-right rallies in Portland, Oregon; Berkeley, California; and Providence, Rhode Island.
Already, the white-supremacist bitcoin wallets Neonazi BTC Tracker monitors have seen an uptick in donations. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi site, has seen a nearly $10,000 surge in bitcoin donation in recent days. The spike in donations is the Daily Stormer’s largest since Unite the Right last year, when fans forked over more than $60,000 in bitcoin. Most of the money came from a single donor who gave the site 14.88 bitcoins (a neo-Nazi meme), which was valued at approximately $56,000 at the time, Forbes reported.
Other recent payments logged by Neonazi BTC Tracker include donations to reported Daily Stormer webmaster Andrew Auernheimer (better known as “weev”), and to Chris Cantwell, a white supremacist who became known as the “Crying Nazi” after he filmed himself crying about the criminal charges he faced after Unite the Right.
A bitcoin wallet identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as belonging to Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler has seen less activity, earning just $55 in the past two months. But Kessler is deeply unpopular on the far-right, with most attendees of his first rally disavowing him or accusing him of cooperating with federal authorities. ThinkProgress previously reported that Kessler has abandoned most online fundraising platforms and is now begging for money via cash or check.
Not all Nazis depend on bitcoin. Cantwell is one of several to push monero, a less-popular cryptocurrency with private wallets that cannot be publicly tracked. But while the anonymity is alluring for white supremacists, it has also made monero a highly volatile investment and a target for hackers.
Cantwell, who encourages his followers to invest in cryptocurrency, appeared to lose more than two-thirds of his monero investment earlier this year. On Gab, a white-supremacist-friendly social network, Cantwell said he’d purchased monero at its peak price of approximately $440, and sold it after it crashed below $135. Shortly before selling, he told followers that, “if I had dollars to spare, I’d be buying right now.”
Monero has since crashed even further, to approximately $116 on Tuesday.