World
Thu Sep 24, 2020 4:55
Report: Pro-Trump Activists Plotted Violence Ahead of Portland Rallies
TEHRAN (FNA)- Leaked chat logs show Portland-area pro-Donald Trump activists planning and training for violence, sourcing arms and ammunition and even suggesting political assassinations ahead of a series of contentious rallies in the Oregon city, including one scheduled for this weekend, according to a report.

The chats on the GroupMe app, shared with The Guardian by the antifascist group Eugene Antifa, show conversations between Oregon members of the Patriots Coalition growing more extreme as they discuss armed confrontations with leftwing Portland activists, and consume a steady diet of online disinformation about protests and wildfires.

At times, rightwing activists discuss acts of violence at recent, contentious protests, which in some cases they were recorded carrying out.

At one point, David Willis, a felon currently being sued for his alleged role in an earlier episode of political violence, joins a discussion about the use of paintballs.

Where other members had previously suggested freezing the paintballs for maximum damage, Willis wrote, “They make glass breaker balls that are rubber coated metal. They also have pepper balls but they are about 3 dollars a ball. Don’t freeze paintballs it makes them wildly inaccurate” [sic.]

Willis did not immediately respond to voice and text messages sent to his listed cellphone number.

Another prolific poster is Mark Melchi, a 41-year-old Dallas, Oregon-based car restorer who claims to have served as a captain in the US Army.

Melchi has been recorded leading an armed pro-Trump militia, "1776 2.0" into downtown confrontations in Portland, including on August 22. At several points in the chat he proposes violence in advance of those confrontations, and appears to confess to prior acts committed in the company of his paramilitary group.

In advance of the August 22 protest, Melchi wrote, “It’s going to be bloody and most likely shooting, they’re definitely armed… so let’s make sure we have an organized direction of movement and direction of clearing or other Patriots will be caught in the possible cross fire. When shit hits the fan.”

He advised other members to ignore weapons statutes, writing, “I saw someone say bats, mace, and stun guns are illegal downtown. If you’re going to play by the books tomorrow night, we already lost. We are here to make a change, laws will be broken, people will get hurt… It’s lawlessness downtown, and people need to be prepared for bad things.”

Following these comments, several rightwing demonstrators were recorded using gas and bats on August 22, where Melchi and his militia were also present.

In other remarks ahead of the day, Melchi draws on what he claims is his group’s history of traveling to multiple states to engage in violence at protests.

“My Group 1776 2.0. Has been fighting Antifa in Seattle, Portland, for months”, Melchi writes, adding that “this won’t be a simple fist fight. People will get shot, stabbed and beat”.

He also claims police cooperation in interstate violence, writing, “Yes, going after them at night is the solution… Like we do in other states, tactical ambushes at night while backing up the police are key. You get the leaders and the violent ones and the police are happy to shut their mouths and cameras.”

Melchi nevertheless recommends that members disguise themselves to avoid the consequences of homicide.

“We must be ready to defend with lethal response… Suggest wearing mask and nothing to identify you on Camera…to prevent any future prosecution,” Melchi said.

In response to detailed questions about these contributions, Melchi responded with an email that falsely suggested his comments might have been photoshopped, and concluded with direct threats.

Melchi wrote, “I suggest you don’t threaten combat veterans sweetheart, might get a little uncomfortable for ya big guy!”

Melchi’s sentiments in the chat logs were in keeping with fantasies of, and plans for, violence, which are constantly discussed by group members.

Although some members are connected with extremist groups or militias, on the whole they describe themselves as “patriots”, and they express no clear ideology beyond a hatred of the left, and a preparedness to use violence. The shared allegiances expressed in the group are mostly to the police, the United States and Donald Trump, a person whom some say they are prepared to kill for.

Ahead of August 22, a user “Paige” says “I’m waiting for the presidential go to start open firing”.

Melchi, the militia leader, responds, “Well Saturday may be that go lol”.

Alex Newhouse, the digital research lead at the Center for Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute, said of the group that “the main mechanism that makes these communities so dangerous is the incessant desensitization to the idea of political violence”.

Newhouse noted that the ideas expressed in the group were entrenched in “extreme nationalism – that a few strong men with guns can together take out an evil that is at once imagined as an existential threat, and pathetically weak”.

Newhouse added that the group’s discussions “fit within a broader trend of rightwing extremists becoming more accelerationist over time”.

The chatlogs became fractious at the peak of Oregon’s recent wildfire emergency. While some members stated they had gone to rural areas to “hunt” imagined antifa arsonists, others became concerned about the dangers.

As early as September 9, the baseless idea that the fires were a coordinated arson attack was treated as settled fact, with Melchi writing, “People have officially died from these Antifa Fires. I’d shoot them on site” [sic], and another user, Dub, responding: “Yes sir if I see them they are getting dropped where they stand.”

When adverse consequences of vigilantism became evident, leadership attempted to bring the group back under control. After a member of the group reported that an associate had been arrested in Lane county for “holding [someone] at gunpoint”, the group’s administrator, who used the user name Patriot Coalition, wrote, “STOP HOLDING PEOPLE AT GUN POINT- STOP PULLING YOUR WEAPONS… VIDEO- TAKE PICTURES AND CALL 911."

Mary McCord is the legal director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law School, which on Wednesday released a series of fact sheets on anti-paramilitary laws in all 50 states.

Given details of the content of the chats, McCord said that “this is the kind of thing that might allow authorities to take action”, and that members of the group may “already be in violation of Oregon’s anti-paramilitary laws”.

The group also talked about coordinating at the rally with the Proud Boys, an extreme rightwing group. One user, identified as Bravo91 and a part of the group’s leadership, spoke of phone calls with the Proud Boys.

Along with antifascist demonstrators, Democratic politicians are also the target of violent fantasies in the chats. In particular, Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, is demonized and nominated as a possible target for assassination by the group.

On August 24, a user identified as “Trent-Medford” writes, “Fuck wheeler… guess what soon as we are done with these punks. He’s next freakin coward !!!!!!"

User T Durden went further. In response to news that an alleged arsonist had been released on bail, and without encountering disagreement, they wrote, “Maybe we need to start taking care of the justice ourselves!”, adding, “Start with justice on our DA and then move on to the governor. Maybe by the time we get to the first judge, they will have changed their tunes.”

 

 

 

 

Bottom top
Iranian Army, IRGC to Stage Joint Aerial Drills

TEHRAN (FNA)- Lieutenant Commander of Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base Brigadier General Qader Rahimzadeh announced that the Iranian Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) are preparing to stage joint aerial wargames codenamed 'Modafe'an-e Aseman-e Velayat 99' (Guardians of Velayat's Sky-99) on wednesday.
Karabakh War Drone Crashes at Iran’s Bordering Areas

TEHRAN (FNA)- Another drone most likely belonging to the warring sides of Azerbaijan and Armenia crashed near a village in East Azarbaijan province in Northwestern Iran.
UK Taps Open Orphan to Explore Vaccine Trials That Infect Volunteers with Coronavirus

TEHRAN (FNA)- Healthy, young people in the UK may soon be asked to volunteer to get deliberately exposed to COVID-19 as part of a set of human challenge studies, which aim to speed up the process of vaccine development.
Report: US Colleges Welcomed Students Back Likely Led to A Surge in COVID Cases

TEHRAN (FNA)- From late July through September, students from more than 2,400 colleges and universities went back to campus to participate in what has ultimately become an American experiment in how institutions of higher education can operate during a pandemic.
Iran Reports 5,039 New Coronavirus Cases

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian health ministry announced on Tuesday that 5,039 new cases of coronavirus infection have been identified across the country during the past 24 hours, adding that 322 patients have passed away during the same period.
Iran’s Exports Threefold Imports in H1

TEHRAN (FNA)- Head of Iran's Customs Administration (IRICA) Mehdi Mirashrafi said that the volume of exported goods was three times more than imports in the first six months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20-September 20).
Beijing Says US Smearing Cooperation Between China, Trade Partners

TEHRAN (FNA)- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is “smearing” normal economic and trade ties between China and other countries, Beijing announced.
Study: US Must Invest More Public Money in Early Childcare

TEHRAN (FNA)- The United States needs to invest more public money in early childcare, a sector hit hard by the pandemic, according to a study by the Boston Federal Reserve released Monday.
‘Shameful’: Palestinians Slam UAE Delegation Visit to Israel

TEHRAN (FNA)- The arrival of a United Arab Emirates delegation in Israel has been slammed as “shameful” by Palestinian officials.
Argentina Passes 1 Million Cases as COVID-19 Hits Latin America

TEHRAN (FNA)- Argentina has passed one million coronavirus cases and it is now smaller cities like Ushuaia – known as “The End of the World” at the edge of the country – that are seeing some of the most notable upticks.
Senior Commander: Iran’s Defense Power Aimed at Deterring Threats

TEHRAN (FNA)- Commander of Khatam ol-Anbia Headquarters Major General Gholam Ali Rashid said that Iran’s military power is based on deterring any possible threats.
Iran to Start Coronavirus Vaccine Human Test in Mid-November

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki said that the country has successfully tested its coronavirus vaccine on animals, adding that the human test phase will begin in mid-November.
Kremlin Slams Hacking Accusations Against Russian Intel Agencies as Blatant Russophobia

TEHRAN (FNA)- Western countries’ urge to blame everything on Moscow and Russian intelligence services is a sign of Russophobia, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.
Rouhani Stresses Government’s Endeavor to Tackle Economic Woes

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his administration is striving to confront economic problems to have the least consequences for the low-income strata, noting that no justification is accepted for shortages of basic goods.
Former FDA Head Says US Entering 'Biggest Wave' of Coronavirus Pandemic, Calls Trump 'Problematic' for Holding Large Rallies

TEHRAN (FNA)- The former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the US is entering the 'biggest wave' of the coronavirus pandemic.