Hours after a suspect was detained by the police in Waukesha after an SUV went careening into a Christmas parade, injuring dozens and killing five people, far-right provocateurs went searching for a motive late Sunday night. In short order, they found a spurious if viral-ready and inflammatory one: the Black Lives Matter movement.
Darrell Brooks, age 39, the alleged driver of the SUV, has a long rap sheet, including convictions for a slew of sexual crimes and violent offenses. Per multiple reports, Brooks was out on bail, awaiting charges after allegedly attempting to run over the mother of his child. On Monday, the Milwaukee district attorney described the $1,000 which had been assessed in that case as “inappropriately low.” Prior to the parade, Brooks had allegedly committed another, unrelated act of domestic violence and then chose to leave the scene before the police arrived there.
For now, there are no indications of any additional motive for driving his SUV through the parade, or any reasons to label it domestic terrorism, Waukesha police chief Daniel Thompson said in a press conference Monday afternoon. “We are confident that he acted alone,” Thompson added.
But a quick glance on social media would find an entirely different narrative playing out. Scores of accounts, some with hundreds of thousands of followers, are either insinuating or stating outright Brooks was in some way a member of Black Lives Matter, or had been inspired by the civil rights group. Others suggested without evidence this was the first shot in a looming race war, or that Brooks’s alleged crimes were somehow an act of retribution days after Kyle Rittenhouse was declared not guilty.
She also shared and endorsed a post by Pedro Gonzales, a fellow at the Claremont Institute, blaming the “US media” for inspiring Brooks, a “black nationalist.” Laura Loomer, who has been banned from almost every platform for sharing islamophobic sentiments, went further, answering the quetion that Greene “asked”: “From the moment this happened I said it was a black supremacist Muslim who carried out a terror attacking against WHITE PEOPLE,” she posted on Telegram.
All those evidently misleading and claims about Brooks’ motives (he identified as a Christian in other Facebook posts, according to The Daily Dot) came after Ngo, a prominent far-right figure and editor-at-large for The Post Millennial, put up a thread late on Sunday which circulated widely. After a New York Post reporter identified Brooks as the individual taken into custody and linked to his police record, Ngo went to work, sharing a photo of a prior mugshot. (Ngo regularly posts mugshots of leftist protesters.)
First, Ngo insisted Brooks had shown his support for, “BLM causes, George Floyd & black nationalism,” in various old social media posts allegedly belonging to Brooks.
(The Daily Beast cannot confirm the veracity of the posts, as Brooks’ social media accounts have all since been locked.)
For over nine hours, Ngo didn’t offer visual proof backing up his claims. The tweet circulated far and wide enough that a few aggregators even covered his radio silence and the resulting backlash. The following morning, Ngo returned to the thread.
He mentioned that Brooks had shared a falsified and antisemitic Hitler quote. He’d also praised a George Floyd mural and stuck positive emojis above cartoon about racial profiling by the police. Other posts allegedly attributable to Brooks and distributed by Ngo included a soundcloud track critical of former President Trump and a photo of a fruit bowl that had been carved into a raised fist plus the letters “BLM.”
None of those posts, or others floating around online and purportedly shared by Brooks, display anything resembling participation in the Black Lives Matter movement. In other posts, he expresses hostility towards white people, gives a thumbs up to a Black nationalist group, and cheers the removal of statues, along with others justifying his previous crimes and sharing his untalented rap music.
But if Brooks ever attended a protest or planned political action, violent or otherwise, he didn’t bother posting about that. .
Ngo also included another suggestion that bears little resemblance to reality. “He also has a post about how to get away with running people over on the street,” he tweeted. This is, at best, inflammatory and misleading. Yes, in 2016, Brooks shared a post from an ex-Minneapolis sargeant who’d encouraged citizens to run over BLM protesters, saying they could get off scot-free by calling 911 and claiming BLM had a “propensity towards violence.” Anyone with a cursory knowledge of the story would easily realize Brooks was condemning the cop. Ngo left all of that information out. Instead, in another tweet in the thread, he stripped away the context to quote Brooks saying: "Run them over. Keep traffic flowing & don't slow down for any of these idiots.”
In doing so,Ngo implies it was Brooks who was providing a how-to guide for using a car as a weapon and not the ex-Minneapolis cop.
This isn’t the first time critics of Ngo have suggested he omits details or selectively edits information in order to paint leftists in the worst possible light. Ngo has been made a cause celebre by the right, lionized by senators like Ted Cruz, for his endless promotion of videos depicting antifa and other activists on the left as being a violent mob bent on destruction. Often, those narratives fall apart when given close examination. Famously, Ngo was embedded with the far-right gang Patriot Prayer, and was within earshot when they amiably discussed their plans for violence, according to an investigative report by the Portland Mercury. Ngo’s widely-shared videos only showed the response by leftists, making it seem as if Patriot Prayer were the victims and not the instigators. (Ngo has fervidly denied the allegation.)
It’s not that any of the information Ngo strung together about Brooks appears to be wrong. But it is framed in bad faith to lead a casual reader to the entirely unfounded conclusion that this was a racial attack of some sort. Scroll through the Waukesha trending topic on Twitter and it’s packed with culture warriors howling in outrage about BLM. Ngo never explicitly says Brooks was motivated by anti-white animus. And yet, the replies to his thread are littered with racial slurs.
While Ngo’s tweets have made the rounds online, no reputable outlets have seen fit to cite them to date. One “reactionary social media performer” with his own large following did, though. Tim Pool, a hugely popular YouTuber with a bent for whitewashing the far-right, put out a video Monday morning. His main source was Ngo’s tweets. In it, Pool made sure to couch his statements about Brooks, saying nothing had been confirmed regarding any connection to BLM. People should wait when commenting on a breaking news story, especially one involving crime, Pool advised, as it often takes time to sort fact from fiction. And any implication Brooks was motivated by politics should be rejected, he said, not long before flatly asserting that Brooks has “ties to Black Lives Matter.” Part of the title of the video states the “Person Of Interest Detained Is BLM Supoorter.” [sic}
Pool’s video, posted at 10am EDT on Monday, was recorded prior to the Waukesha presser in which the D.A. refuted the idea it was an act of terror, but after CNN had reported sources saying the same. Pool may have missed CNN’s coverage, but he suggested that since the authorities hadn’t ruled out terrrorism as a motive, according to a Daily Mail story from the day prior he read on-air, perhaps this could potentially be a "revenge attack" for the Rittenhouse verdict. (Pool also highlighted Ngo’s misleading framing of the post about the Minneapolis cop.) Later in the day, Ngo, too, posted an alleged screenshot showing Brooks’s dismay over the trial.
Pool did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication. Ngo responded on Twitter, posting the questions The Daily Beast asked. “I don’t want to speak to you & I stand by my reporting,” he wrote. Earlier on Monday, Ngo seemed pleased to be a trending Twitter topic.
If the goal was virality, accuracy be damned, then Ngo is right. No further comment is required.