QAnon acolytes in Dallas are now drinking toxic chemicals from a communal punch bowl, according to the family of a woman who joined the Texas “cult” that’s waiting for the supposed resurrection of President John F. Kennedy and his late son, JFK Jr.
Numerous members of the Leek family told the Dallas Observer that the woman, who reportedly abandoned her husband and children in Delaware last month to follow Trump-supporting QAnon leader Michael Brian Protzman to Dallas, has been quaffing a mixture containing chlorine dioxide—industrial bleach—which she apparently distributes among the group.
“She was proud to tell us that she was the one mixing it up and giving it to everybody,” one of her relatives told the outlet.
The woman got into the QAnon movement back in 2018, said her son, Sean Leek, who was unable to be reached by The Daily Beast on Monday. While the family didn’t specify why the group was drinking the potent chemical mixture, they said their relative is an ardent anti-vaxxer.
“She’s always been into, you know, natural remedies, getting aluminum out of deodorant, things like that,” Leek said in a Dec. 10 interview. “But that led to anti-vaxxing, and anti-vaxxing led to QAnon.”
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), chlorine dioxide has “not been shown to be safe and effective for any use, including COVID-19, but these products continue to be sold as a remedy for treating autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and flu, among other conditions, despite their harmful effects.”
It is sold online under various names, including “Miracle Mineral Solution,” “Miracle Mineral Supplement,” “Master Mineral Solution,” and “Chlorine Dioxide Protocol.” Ingestion can lead to respiratory failure, potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythms, life-threateningly low blood pressure, acute liver failure, and the rapid destruction of red blood cells. Members of a Florida family hawking chlorine dioxide through their Genesis II Church of Health and Healing in Bradenton were arrested by federal agents in 2020. They reportedly earned more than $1 million from sales of their “miracle” elixir.
One of QAnon’s core beliefs, which stem from a succession of online postings by a shadowy figure calling himself “Q,” contends that former President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a war against a cabal of “global elites,” made up of cannibalistic pedophiles in America’s Democratic Party, on Wall Street, and in Hollywood. None of Q’s predictions, such as the imminent second coming of JFK, have ever materialized.
Earlier this year, the FBI issued a bulletin stating that some QAnon adherents “likely will begin to believe they can no longer ‘trust the plan’ referenced in QAnon posts and that they have an obligation to change from serving as ‘digital soldiers’ towards engaging in real world violence.”
Prof. Christine Sarteschi, an extremism researcher at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, told The Daily Beast that certain political leaders bear a share of the responsibility for the rise of such behavior as drinking bleach.
“Unfortunately, there’s…a great deal of Republican support for not taking the vaccine and the belief that there’s no danger in Covid,” Sarteschi said in an email. “Any political party that turns away from science or logic endangers its followers.”
The actions taken by people like the Dallas group are “also likely the result of confirmation bias; the idea that people want to believe what they already believe,” explained Sarteschi. “News, opinions, and so forth are not judged on their own merits or their accuracy or reality. They are accepted if they confirm what they already believe and rejected if it goes against what they already believe, no matter how much evidence exists otherwise.”
The alleged bleach-drinkers in question are disciples of Protzman, a 58-year-old QAnon “influencer” and Holocaust denier who’s been accused of domestic violence and who previously owned a demolition company in the Seattle area.
Court records filed in King County, Washington Superior Court lay out a string of grim allegations made in July 2019 by Protzman’s then-wife, whose first name The Daily Beast is withholding to protect her privacy.“[A]t approximately seven in the evening, she arrived home and went inside her residence she shares with her husband of twenty five years, Michael Protzman,” states a charging document accusing Protzman of unlawful imprisonment. “They are currently in the process of getting divorced and Michael told her that if he couldn't have her, no one could. For the past two weeks, Michael has been acting differently, not showering or working and believing in government conspiracies. He physically held her down on the bed, using both of his hands to physically restrain her, using one of his legs to brace hers, rendering her unable to move. Michael held her in this position for approximately two to three minutes until she told him that she would agree to marriage counseling so he would let her up.”
When Protzman’s wife tried to walk away, Protzman, who calls himself “Negative48,” allegedly grabbed her and prevented her from leaving. She was “eventually able to get out of the house and walked barefoot to her neighbor’s house where she called 911,” according to the filing.
“[Protzman’s wife] stated she is scared of Michael because he has ‘blind rage’ and she believes he may hit her,” it continues. “Michael has assaulted her in the past; strangling her approximately six years ago.”Responding cops spotted Protzman walking out of the home, and after “attempting to physically overpower the officers,” was taken into custody.
The case was dismissed without prejudice on June 8, 2021, meaning it can be reopened at any time. Court records do not provide a precise reason for the dismissal, stating the case was dropped “in the interests of justice and upon discussion with the victim.”
Protzman did not respond to multiple requests for comment. His wife was unable to be reached.
Bleach-drinking enthusiasts got a boost last year when then-President Trump held a televised news conference during which he marveled at the possibility of using disinfectants to treat or prevent COVID-19.
“I see the disinfectant that knocks [COVID] out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said as White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx looked on, visibly uncomfortable. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
Following a worrying increase in calls to poison control centers nationwide, the company that manufactures Lysol was sufficiently disturbed that it issued a statement warning Americans not to use its products as Trump had suggested.
In its own follow-up statement, the American Cleaning Institute, a trade group representing the U.S. cleaning products industry, announced, “Disinfectants are meant to kill germs or viruses on hard surfaces. Under no circumstances should they ever be used on one’s skin, ingested or injected internally.”