Hundreds of QAnon followers from across the country gathered in Dallas on Tuesday afternoon to witness what they believed would be the reappearance of John F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr.
The assassinated president and his deceased son never arrived.
Rather than face their disappointment, though, the QAnon faithful quickly pivoted to a new prediction, claiming that the Kennedys and a host of other late celebrities would unveil themselves at a Rolling Stones concert in Dallas later that day.
“Rolling Stones?” said the host of one livestream monitoring the event. “Rolling away the stone!”
The crowd in Dallas represented a splinter faction of a splinter faction within the larger QAnon movement, and one that’s been denounced by some of QAnon’s leading figures as a scheme meant to embarrass QAnon believers. But the willingness of hundreds of people to travel to Dallas from as far away as New York and California demonstrates QAnon’s persistent popularity nearly a year after “Q”—the mysterious figure behind QAnon—last posted.
John F. Kennedy Jr. has long been an obsession for a faction of QAnon supporters, even as their beliefs that JFK Jr. faked his 1999 plane-crash death and will return to run as Donald Trump’s vice president have faced ridicule from other QAnon believers. On Tuesday, the conspiracy theorists were drawn to the site of the Kennedy assassination by claims made by obscure channels on the social media app Telegram with names like “Negative48” and “Whiplash347.”
The channels’ operators had amassed hundreds of thousands of followers online with their predictions, often by using numerology to claim that the members of the Kennedy family would unveil themselves sometime in early November and usher in a restoration of the Trump presidency.
QAnon promoter Michael Brian Protzman, who has more than 100,000 followers with the “Negative48” channel, has used numerology to argue that the Kennedys are descendants of Jesus Christ. On Monday, Protzman met with his fans in Dallas and performed a numerological equation on a fan’s T-shirt with Sharpie. During the celebration, Protzman wore a pin that said “I’m Just a Dumb Ass,” surrounded with numbers referencing his group’s numerological beliefs.
The Dallas QAnon believers had become convinced the Kennedys would unveil themselves on Nov. 2 around 12:30 p.m. Central time, right around the hour of Kennedy’s assassination. But they then began to add on other dead celebrities, convinced that they, too, would appear, having faked their deaths to avoid the deep state.
They began to pick out random people they encountered in the Dallas area as celebrities in disguise, claiming one man was comedian Robin Williams and another comedian Richard Pryor.
Still, some skepticism began to break in. During the Monday night livestream, some audience members became frustrated by their leaders’ refusal to peg the Kennedys’ reappearance to a specific time and date, the result of an apparent effort to avoid a single moment of crushing disappointment. One Dallas resident pointed out that no parade permits had been obtained for the parade of dead celebrities that was supposed to follow on Tuesday afternoon.
One of the livestream’s hosts shot back that followers needed to show more faith, pointing out how lonely so many of them had been before latching on to QAnon.
“Some of them were home alone feeling lonely,” she said. “They had nobody there. We’ve heard these stories for months about people, people feeling alone, having nobody they can talk to. And now you have, what, 1,000 people in Dallas?”
Suddenly, another woman cut her off.
“I just can’t wait to see Kobe Bryant!” the new woman said.
The list of returning celebrities grew long, coming to include not just the Kennedys, Bryant, and Williams, but also actress Debbie Reynolds and racecar driver Dale Earnhardt.
“Yes, there’s been a rapper here, we’re not sure of his name,” said one man livestreaming from Dallas.
“Tupac, maybe?” asked one helpful listener.
As 12:30 p.m. approached, the hundreds of people gathered at the Kennedy assassination site in Dealey Plaza began to chant “God bless America” and “JFK!” The chanting dwindled after the Kennedys failed to appear. An hour later, the crowd had dwindled to roughly a few dozen people standing in the rain.