Two Washington, D.C. brothers accused of planning for race war had deep ties to the violent white nationalist scene, as well as to other, supposedly non-violent figures on the far right.
On Tuesday, the FBI announced the arrest of Jeffrey Clark, 30, on weapons charges. Clark’s brother Edward, 23, had killed himself two weeks earlier, just hours after white nationalist Robert Bowers allegedly murdered 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue. The Clark brothers were neo-Nazis, their social media and statements to the press indicate. They made these views known online and in person, where they mingled with ostensibly less extreme racists like white nationalist Richard Spencer, Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, and far-right troll Jack Posobiec.
Far from “lone wolves,” the Clarks ran in a pack.
A year of far-right attacks—the Pittsburgh attack, a neo-Nazi’s car attack in Charlottesville, a shooting in Florida, an extremist’s attempt to hijack a train—have largely been characterized as isolated incidents, because the killers and would-be killers do not use the attacks to promote any specific extremist group. But outside the public eye, extremists like the Clarks keep in close contact with each other, organizing and radicalizing online.
When a Robert Bowers shoots up a synagogue or an Edward Clark shoots himself, it’s not an act of random violence, but the fruition of a long radicalization campaign.
In early April, the Clark brothers rallied in D.C. with Spencer, a white nationalist who casts himself as a non-violent racist (he calls, impossibly, for “peaceful ethnic cleansing”) and evoked Hitler at speeches where followers threw fascist salutes. One of Spencer’s followers has pleaded guilty in an attempted murder of protesters outside a speech in Florida last year, and Spencer has previously used violent fascist groups like the Traditionalist Worker Party to act as his security force. Spencer did not immediately respond to a return The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
The Clark brothers appear to have followed Spencer closely. They posed with him outside the White House at the April rally and the following month, they attended another Spencer rally outside the White House, Idavox previously reported. This rally had a broader appeal. Posobiec, the Pizzagate conspiracy theorist who currently works for One America News Network, was scheduled to speak, but broke off to launch his own rally after a rift with Spencer. (Known white supremacist Austin “Augustus Invictus” Gillespie reportedly attended Posobiec’s rally.)
The brothers would remain in Posobiec’s orbit. On June 2, they crashed an event by author Alexander Reid Ross, who was leading a discussion on his book Against the Fascist Creep. The Clarks and two other far-right men in “Make America Great Again” hats attempted to disrupt the event, the anti-fascist news site It’s Going Down reported at the time. One of the men was Jamie Troutman, a Unite the Right organizer who went by AltRightVA online, and who has posed for pictures with failed U.S. Senate candidate Corey Stewart. Reid Ross’s book reading also attracted attention from right-wing media, including Posobiec.
“They came in aggressively with MAGA hats on and were told to sit in the corner and be quiet, which they did as antifascist activists streamed in to ensure security,” Reid Ross told The Daily Beast. “After the event, as people were leaving, activists on the scene pointed out a cab hovering outside with a journalist inside pointing what looked like an iPhone, with attachments, at the building. He was identified as a reporter with the Daily Caller, and he had been waiting outside for a long time. The Clark brothers and their associates attempted to leave the scene in a cab, but the cabbie drove away after learning who they were, so they skulked off. Later that evening, Posobiec posted a pirated copy of my book on Twitter.”
Reid Ross, who has been targeted by far-right troll campaigns, speculated that the Daily Caller had been warned of a possible disruption “and were prepped to capture footage of the supposed ‘intolerant left.’”
Jason Kessler, the Unite the Right organizer, quote-tweeted a picture of the four MAGA-hatted men. "These are some of my favorite people!" he wrote. "#MAGA"
The Huffington Post reported late Tuesday that Posobiec hired the brothers to film him for a documentary in May 2017. Although Posobiec denied the report, the Huffington Post published a picture of the brothers filming Posobiec, who is holding a microphone. (Jeffrey Clark appears to have tweeted at Posobiec multiple times, according to screenshots reviewed by The Daily Beast.) Anti-fascist researcher Laura Sennett told the outlet that the film was for the far-right media company Rebel, from which Posobiec has since been fired for plagiarizing Kessler.
Sennett told the Huffington Post that she’d asked Jeffrey Clark whether Posobiec was aware of the brothers’ neo-Nazi beliefs. “He told me that Posobiec absolutely was and had told Jeff that he was sympathetic to those beliefs,” she said.
Posobiec did not respond to a request for comment.
Days after the incident at Reid Ross’s book reading, one of the brothers began posting in a Discord chat group dedicated to planning Unite the Right, leaked chat logs reveal. The brother is likely Jeffrey, as he links to what appears to be his Twitter account. Alongside memes about killing Jewish children, Clark had chummy conversations with Kessler, who claims not to support violence. Kessler did not return The Daily Beast's request for comment.
In the chats, Clark implied he was a member of Vanguard America, a neo-Nazi group. James Fields Jr., the man accused of killing an anti-racist protester with his car at Unite the Right, also marched alongside the group at the rally. A criminal complaint against Clark, released Tuesday, alleges that he and Edward posed holding a Vanguard America flag.
Both brothers marched at Unite the Right. Photographs reviewed by The Daily Beast reveal they entered the rally in a column led by William Fears, one of the Spencer followers accused of conspiring to shoot anti-Spencer protesters in Florida last year. (Charges against Fears were later dropped.) The brothers were also photographed standing behind Fields, who in turn, was photographed that day standing next to Taylor Wilson, a neo-Nazi who would go on to attempt to hijack an Amtrak train in an act of anti-black terrorism.
After Fields was accused of murder at Unite the Right, much of the open white nationalist community abandoned in-person demonstrations. Both Clark brothers appeared to limit their attacks to the internet, where they posted violently racist and anti-Semitic memes on Twitter and Gab.
Bowers, the alleged Pittsburgh murderer, appeared to announce the massacre on Gab. After a series of extreme anti-Semitic posts, Bowers announced that he was “going in,” and entered the synagogue with a gun shortly thereafter.
Jeffrey Clark cheer-leaded the attack from his own Gab account. “fucking kikes that got shot by the hero #RobertBowers were all active supporters of pedophilia,” he wrote, “and every last one of them deserved exactly what happened to them and so much worse.”
He and Bowers were friends on Gab, the according to the criminal complaint. Edward Clark, also a Gab user, appeared have been familiar with Bowers as well.
“Within hours after Bowers’ fatal attack on the Tree-of-life Synagogue, news media outlets and online sources reported that Gab was cooperating with federal law enforcement authorities in their investigation of Bowers,” the criminal complaint reads.
By 12:45 that afternoon, Edward fatally shot himself. Days later, Jeffrey Clark told a family member “that he expected the FBI to ‘show up’ because of his contacts with Bowers on Gab,” according to the criminal complaint.
The family member told investigators that Clark said Vanguard America hadn’t broke the law, “but at some point if a line gets crossed, I would be violent, everyone has a line, including you.”