A website that offered free anti-anti-fascist t-shirts for a real far-right march appears to have been a trap by anti-fascists.
On August 18, Trump supporters will host the “National March Against Far-Left Violence” in several cities, organized by a pair of frequent attendees at far-right rallies. Expected participants include members of anti-Muslim group the Proud Boys and people involved in the pro-Trump troll group Patriot Prayer, which has attracted white supremacists. In early July, when march leaders were planning their event, an apparent ally set up a website where marchers could pre-order anti-anti-fascist t-shirts. But the website appears to have been a trap by antifa, who turned around and published the names and addresses they’d collected from the website.
Now the far-right is trying to get their apparent anti-fascist trolls arrested.
An anonymous person registered a website for the National March Against Far-Left Violence in early July, web registry records show. An early version of the site encouraged fans to subscribe to its mailing list or pre-order t-shirts, which showed an anti-fascist symbol being damaged by the American flag. The site didn’t ask for payment, just an address “so we can calculate shippings costs.”
Privacy-savvy marchers might have known to avoid a web form asking for their information. The far right and its opponents often wage controversial doxxing campaigns against each other, with fascists and anti-fascists posting their rivals’ personal details online in attempt to intimidate them or reveal their identities. After the first Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, some white supremacists cited doxxing campaigns as the reason they would not participate in a future rally.
That didn’t stop approximately three dozen people who allegedly signed up for the mailing list or tried to reserve anti-antifa shirts. This week, days before the march, the site started publishing those people’s names, and sometimes their addresses.
“The following people still have not paid for the shirts they ordered,” the site’s publishers wrote above a list of several dozen names. “We’re hardworking organizers who paid hard-earned money out of our own pockets to have these shirts printed. The fact that our fellow patriots are now shirking their obligations is alarming to us.”
Prospective marchers began raging at the event’s organizers on the official Facebook page. One person whose name was revealed claimed to have never signed up for a t-shirt.
“It appears that a fake web page was set up in our name. We are not associated with it so don't trust anything on it. This is only a Facebook page,” the official march Facebook page wrote on Wednesday, when followers began complaining.
But marchers quickly pointed out that, not only had the march’s official Facebook page associated with the website, it had actually linked to it.
“Bullshit,” one person with a Pepe avatar responded. “That site has been in your about page since July! You all really fucked up this time.”
Hours later, the Facebook page changed its story, editing its status to clarify that yes, they had promoted the site with the fake t-shirts, but only because a stranger had asked them to.
“This ‘patriot’ came out of no where with an already built web page saying it was built to donate to the cause,” the Facebook moderators wrote. “A gift to this cause. Turns out it’s not and it was a fake website made to lure people into it. We are sorry about that.”
One of the alleged trolls posted a screenshot of an alleged July 8 Facebook chat with march organizers, in which he sent the completed website. “Oh neat,” one organizer replied.
Hours into the doxxing campaign, march organizers started piecing together what had happened.
“Some infiltrators created a website and due to the share number of mutual friends I trusted that it was legitimate,” the march’s official Facebook account posted on Wednesday. “They were just supposed to put out information but instead put up a phony order form for tea [sic] shirts. The infiltrator accounts are Ed Pinkley and Donny Murphy.”
The two Facebook accounts, neither of which used personal photos, appear to have been created to look like generic far-right Facebook users. Pinkley’s, which has since been deleted, was active since at least November 2017, befriending well known members of right-wing movements and posting conservative memes. Murphy’s account was created last month.
From its Facebook account, the march claimed to have called the feds.
“The authorities have been notified and are extremely interested because it appears that interstate fraud has been committed,” the page wrote. “The Antifa infiltrators made a big mistake by attempting to take phony t-shirt orders because now they are engaged in an actual crime.”
But observers noted that this is the second recent occasion during which march organizer Mark Sahady has attempted to coordinate a far-right event, only for anti-fascists to sneak in. In May, ThinkProgress published leaked conversations from Sahady’s Boston-based group Resist Marxism, which revealed that the group -- which outwardly railed against feminism, leftism, and “political correctness” -- was actually tied to more openly extremist and white supremacist groups.
“JFC, Mark,” one person wrote on the official march page, linking to the ThinkProgress article, “this is the second time you've gotten infiltrated and gotten everyone around you doxxed in less than three months.”