According to anonymous internet trolls, April 11 will be a day of spontaneous far-right anger. That’s when a supposedly “grassroots” coalition of demonstrators plan “White Lives Matter” rallies in cities across the country. But despite its “grassroots” claims, the movement is secretly being organized by a coalition of Proud Boys and other far-right figures, leaked chat logs reveal.
Now some of the rallies are in freefall, with members of their groups being outed as neo-Nazis. That’s bad news for organizers, who spent weeks trying to make the rallies appear as tame as possible in order to attract new recruits.
In late March, in a public Telegram channel for the White Lives Matter rallies, administrators emphasized that the marches were unaffiliated with far-right groups like the Proud Boys. “No mentioning of any groups,” a message read. “This is grassroot and no groups are affiliated.”
The public messages also emphasized that marchers should not use “hate slurs or symbols.”
But privately, those rules were being workshopped in a Telegram group called “ADMINS OF WLM ZONE,” according to chat logs reviewed by The Daily Beast. Multiple members of that group were self-described Proud Boys, while others had usernames with references to Nazis. The organizer of a White Lives Matter march in Massachusetts claimed to be affiliated with Nationalist Social Club, a New England-based neo-Nazi group.
One self-described Proud Boy from Michigan wrote in the private chat group that organizers should hide their extremist ties, for fear of alienating newcomers.
“It shouldn't have to be said but if your profile picture has swastikas, iron crosses or any other symbols that is commonly associated with the NS movement consider removing them. They will only give legitimacy to the insults our enemies throw at us to discredit this movement, plus it will alienate people of other races who are sympathetic to this cause,” he wrote.
He continued: “It should also be said if you're already a member of another fraternal organization; i.e Fraternal Order of the Eagles, Proud Boys, Knights of Columbus, Shriners, Patriot Front, consider not using common language and terms or symbols that you would use amongst each other. Again this lends legitimacy to the leftists.”
That same Proud Boy’s username contained a reference to fascist Italian leader Benito Mussolini. Other members of the private chat used swastikas as their avatars.
The rallies, some of which are still scheduled to take place on Sunday, were troubled from the outset. Earlier this month, the blog Left Coast Right Watch revealed that the organizer of Philadelphia’s planned White Lives Matter rally was actually a leader of the “New Jersey European Heritage Association,” a far-right organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group. He was identified, in part, because he posted neo-Nazi content in a Telegram group for “White Lives Matter Philadelphia,” where he bragged about participating in past Nazi demonstrations.
Organizers in the private channel reacted with irritation—not because any appeared to disagree with the Philadelphia organizer, but because he was blowing their cover.
“He posted an assload of racial slurs and shit like that,” one organizer complained in the private channel. “Hes making a joke of the entire thing man it’s disrespectful as fuck. For the rest of us. It throws us under the bus. That’s my final say on the matter. Not optical whatsoever.”
“Some people just really do not understand that there are steps to normalization of nationalist/racialist beliefs,” user “Your Fuhrer” replied.
The private group was determined not to fight over petty differences like neo-Nazism, however.
“This shit is why we fail,” one, who used a swastika avatar lambasted the group when members had a disagreement. “We all have different options [opinions] about things. Deal with it! I don’t care if you are a proud boy or Natsoc [National Socialist] or fucking Attomwaffen.” (Members of the fascist group Atomwaffen are tied to at least five murders.)
The group suggested inviting the organizer of the Philadelphia march to the private chat “to keep him in line and fix the damage he caused.” It is unclear whether he joined the private group. But elsewhere in the chat, members became paranoid that anti-fascists were monitoring their conversations.
They were right to worry. Two different infiltrators scraped the group’s contents and provided them to The Daily Beast. An Oregon anti-fascist group previously published some of those leaked messages.
Meanwhile, in more public White Lives Matter channels, operations were also going awry. Several Telegram channels for localized White Lives Matter marches—including those in New Jersey, Seattle, and New York City—revealed themselves to have been decoys operated by the left. Another Telegram group, for an Ohio rally issued an apology on Friday, stating that it would postpone its event due to lack of RSVPs.
Some of the planned Sunday marches have not been canceled, however. Among them are planned rallies in North Carolina and North Dakota, where activists on the left have announced counter-demonstrations.
The leader of the North Carolina faction used a swastika avatar and boasted in public chats of showing up ready for a fight, Raw Story previously reported. “I want this to be peaceful, but come prepared to fight if we have to,” he wrote, recommending attendees bring mace and batons.
He also suggested attendees all wear similar clothing “because I am being a fashy [fascist] nerd.”