Please disregard the man from the bondage porn videos whom 4chan’s politics board and several white supremacist sites repeatedly accused of punching white nationalist Richard Spencer in the face. That was all just a big misunderstanding.
This time, even Richard Spencer himself believes /pol/, 4chan’s politics den, has the right guy.
“/pol/ has engaged in tireless work, and I’m deeply appreciative. The entire movement is appreciative,” Spencer wrote on April 23.
Then Spencer quoted Twitter user RedPillDropper’s celebratory post. /Pol/ had identified the man who walloped him on the street outside Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., it said.
“Richard, you’re welcome,” the tweet reads. Spencer wrote that it was time to turn the man’s photo over to police.
And there in the picture was Jay Casey. He’s /pol/’s most recent random private citizen accused of being the balaclava’d guy who poleaxed America’s most evangelical white supremacist.
Since Spencer was TKO’d with a right hand while adjusting his Pepe the Frog pin on Jan. 20, video of the affair has opened up a national debate about whether it’s OK to “punch a Nazi.” (For the record, Spencer swears he isn’t one.)
There’s a website called canIpunchnazis.com now. (“YES,” the site declares.) Then there’s the more declarative punchanazi.com. It redirects to the ACLU. There are T-shirts. You can get one in Arabic that reads “Punch Nazis,” and proceeds go to refugee organizations. Another simply shows Spencer’s glowering mug pummeled by a disembodied hand, betwixt the words “Born in the USA.”
Spencer, fearful of repeat performances, has started wearing “Clark Kent glasses” to provide a thin layer of disguise.
And now, at last, /pol/ and Spencer believe they have a name to match the fist. Not like when they got it wrong a few months ago. For real this time.
It’s Jay Casey.
“I definitely did not punch Richard Spencer,” Casey told The Daily Beast. “But I did like it.”
Maybe not, then.
Casey, it turns out, was at his job as an assistant in New York City at the time, not in Washington, D.C. He’s happy to talk more once he gets out of that job at the end of the day.
“I can call after 5, if that works,” he said. “And yes, I am definitely not a dead sub.”
Oh, by the way, /pol/ did this all before in January. They were certain they had the guy, the one true puncher, almost immediately.
They thought their man was Ray Bailey. It certainly looks like Ray Bailey, the guy who features prominently in some bondage porn videos a 4chan user had seen kicking around the web. There are some parts of the internet where people are still pretty sure it’s Ray Bailey. If you Google “Richard Spencer puncher,” that name is mostly what you’ll see.
But it can’t be Ray Bailey.
Turns out that guy’s dead.
It only took a few hours for /pol/ to zero in on Bailey, and just a few more minutes to make the slapdash collage of domination porn in which he’s prominently featured. It couldn’t have been more than a day, said Mandy Flores.
Flores would know, because she’s in the porn collage, too.
“Richard Spencer was attacked publicly by [a] notorious high ranking Antifa member. He was identified later online,” some text reads above pictures of Flores and Bailey. “Please share information if you know anything about this man.”
Here is some information about this man: None of that is true. Ray Bailey, a dead guy, is not a “notorious high ranking” member of Antifa, America’s burgeoning antifascist movement.
The denizens of /pol/, who didn’t know that information yet, were taking a victory lap. Not only had they found the assailant of their favorite white supremacist, but that assailant was the cultural reprobate they had always dreamed of.
“Gotta love the resourcefulness of this fucking place,” one 4chan user wrote shortly after 1 p.m. the day after Spencer was punched.
Someone else had recognized Bailey from the videos he’d shot with Flores before his death.
“The really depressing thing is that I’ve seen those videos before,” wrote another. “I hate myself.”
Truth be told, from nose to mid-forehead, it looks like Ray Bailey. Similar glasses. Same basic face. That’s all you see of the attacker, who is masked like a bank robber.
“Let’s make sure the facts are in order before we go spreading this around,” said one /pol/ user, urging caution for a second.
After all, that half of a face was the sum total of evidence connecting the puncher to an otherwise apolitical 60-something who lived 1,200 miles from the scene of the crime.
Then, one paragraph break away, that same commenter said: “Of course a shit-eater would pull a punch and run.”
Ready or not, the hunt to find Ray Bailey, the dead man who punched Richard Spencer, was on.
/Pol/ users had already begun rifling through Bailey’s family and friends’ Facebook pages and posting addresses for any Ray Bailey they could find when Mandy Flores started to get emails.
They wanted to know: Where is Ray?
“There were only a few who contacted me directly. Mostly they were making derogatory comments about Ray, not about me,” Flores told The Daily Beast.
She’d known Bailey for about five years and she was certain, for a couple of reasons, that there’s no way he’d be in Washington, D.C., coldcocking a white supremacist on Inauguration Day.
“He was happy with his baseball games and his drink,” she said. “He had no political views whatsoever.”
Then there was the day in 2014, shortly after the last bondage pictures they shot together, he told her about the golf ball-sized tumor his doctor found. It was then that Bailey’s sessions with Flores, which Bailey had uploaded to a Twitter account and later were made into the meme collage, had to stop. A year after that, she would find out he had died.
Word of Bailey’s death, which had happened two years ago, didn’t reach alt-right and white supremacist sites like The Daily Stormer fast enough. Or maybe they didn’t want it to.
This was, after all, too perfect. Alt-right and white supremacist trolls had been calling any person who disagreed with their views “cucks,” short for cuckolds, for the last two years. Now, an actual cuckold had miraculously become public enemy No. 1.
“All in all, he was good-hearted with some pretty different fetishes, but nothing that would ever hurt anyone. It’s sad how people attacked him for it, called him disgusting and such,” said Flores.
By Saturday, a day after the punch, The Daily Stormer blared: “Antifa Who Attacked Spencer Confirmed to be Poop-Eating Cuckold Slave?”
Here’s the explanation from Andrew Anglin, The Daily Stormer founder who has been in the news for directing an online mob to intimidate a Jewish family in Whitefish, Montana, simply for living in the same town as Richard Spencer.
“There is no guaranteed confirmation as of yet—there probably will be soon—but this info comes straight from /pol/, whom I have been told is always right,” Anglin said.
Right on cue, 4chan users began to reverse course. Some of them had been stalking Facebook pages of Bailey’s family members. They kept seeing posts referring to Bailey in the past tense. A few of his friends and family kept commemorating the anniversary of his death. Bailey’s Twitter account hadn’t posted anything since 2015.
“The guy died months ago,” one /pol/ user posted.
The Daily Stormer started adding updates. “One of our guys hit up Mandy on Twitter, and she said ‘Slave Ray’ is dead,” one said.
But the updates weren’t about Bailey being dead. They were about Bailey faking his own death.
“In the description, [Flores] is saying he died—just as she said in the above Twitter DM—but that was obviously just an excuse for when they stopped making these videos together,” wrote Anglin.
Flores didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t find an obituary. All she had were the tribute posts from friends on Facebook.
“There were a lot of threats on Ray, how they were going to find him and kill him, that he couldn’t hide behind the ‘lie’ that he was dead,” she said.
Somebody found Bailey’s old employer’s website, photo and all. The company hadn’t gotten around to pulling his staff bio down.
“The absolute worst part to the story was the inundation of emails to his former employer’s website,” Flores said. “It was a public comment section that suddenly had the most hateful, awful things being posted.”
“We know Ray isn’t really dead,” somebody wrote on the guestbook of his company’s website. “Nice try having your degenerate friends deceive us. Don’t leave a paper trail of your activism stupid.”
The truth was the opposite. There was no paper trail. That’s the problem. Ray Bailey is dead. Ray Bailey has been dead for years.
“We knew that he died. He didn’t have a funeral. There wasn’t any kind of proof that he had died,” said Morgan LaGrone. “It was just our word against theirs.”
LaGrone is understandably wary of talking about what happened to her company’s website after it became an accidental home to a message board peppered with threats and racial slurs for a few days in January. The whole thing has largely blown over since her company pulled it all down, and she wants it to stay that way. (The company won’t be named here for that reason.)
“I won’t say it didn’t have an effect on us. The things that they were putting out there—they knew everything about us,” said LaGrone. “It did feel a little bit like it threatened our security. It threatened our peace.”
She had worked with Bailey for years, and one day she woke up to dozens of emails and posts on the company’s website about Bailey’s elaborately faked death.
“It took some time to sort through it. They were very thorough,” she said.
Quickly, she and her co-workers tried to think up a strategy. They responded to the first few people who sent notes. Ray Bailey is dead, she’d tell them. But she couldn’t prove it. By the end of the weekend, they were inundated. They had to pull down their website.
She didn’t want to tip off Bailey’s family, just in case they had somehow evaded the abuse. The Daily Beast reached out to a family member who was targeted, but she politely declined to comment.
“We didn’t know how much [friends and family] knew about what they were doing. We wanted to get them proof, but we didn’t want to call attention to the things they were saying about him,” LaGrone said.
Bailey’s dead, but you’d have to take their word for it, she told the commenters.
“I went to some of their websites. For a while, I could see their point.”
Proof of Bailey’s death was not particularly easy to find, but 4chan’s rampant doxxing of his entire family made his place of death very public information.
The Daily Beast reached out to the Tulsa, Oklahoma, chief medical examiner’s office last week. Bailey died of sepsis on Nov. 15, 2015, according to chief administrative officer Amy Elliott. It took one email to find that out.
By the time he didn’t punch Richard Spencer on Jan. 20, 2017, Ray Bailey had been dead for 422 days.
If you squint hard enough, you can kind of see the resemblance between Jay Casey and the puncher. He’s a white guy. He has facial hair. He has eyes.
But that’s really about it. Casey once commented on an Antifa chapter’s Facebook group, so his punch-out narrative makes a bit more sense than Bailey’s. The shape of his face doesn’t really match, though. He doesn’t have the same glasses.
The harassment got pretty bad for a few days, and considerably worse once Spencer retweeted RedPillDropper’s allegation. These are the perils of trying to identify a completely anonymous person by looking at a half of a face on the internet.
“At first, I was like, ‘Oh shit, they’re playing the game they always play. They’re getting a rise out of people,’” said Casey. “A day or so later, I thought, ‘Shit, these guys can do stuff to me.’ They were doxxing me, putting people I know in danger. Somebody started tweeting at me, ‘We’re gonna come get you.’”
Outside of a tweet to Spencer, Casey didn’t really engage.
“I tweeted at him, ‘Spencer, the idea of fighting is you have to fight back,’” he said.
The Daily Beast repeatedly called and emailed Spencer for comment on this story, but he never responded.
Since pinpointing Casey in the last week of April, the trolls have largely moved on. /Pol/ has had other priorities over the past few weeks. Its users tried to sway the French presidential election by bombarding Twitter and Reddit with a series of accusations and hacked email leaks against candidate Emmanuel Macron.
They didn’t succeed. Macron’s campaign anticipated a phishing attempt and flooded the hacker’s inbox with a bunch of nonsense emails and documents. /Pol/ didn’t bother to translate some of their remaining findings into French, and French media collectively chose not to report on whatever was in the breach. Macron won in a landslide.
A week before, /pol/ had transparently invented a rumor that Macron was having an affair with his adult stepdaughter. It didn’t work either, but that wasn’t the point.
As BuzzFeed’s Ryan Broderick put it, “I covered a different 4chan Macron rumor last week. They don’t care if it’s not true. They want it debunked.”
Meanwhile, Spencer’s puncher is still on the lam. Unless, of course, you’re reading The Daily Stormer, which hasn’t updated its big scoop since January. It’s got a story about a dead guy who punched a white supremacist.
—with additional reporting by Brandy Zadrozny