The concept and, maybe simply as vital, the emblem, have been circulating on social media since final summer time. But after the Capitol riot and swearing-in of President Joe Biden, Patriot Party teams have fashioned and multiplied, totally on Telegram, the place they share memes, disinformation and commentary in chaotic channels in all 50 states.
On February 6, one Patriot Party group held its first organized public rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which was billed as an “awareness march.” Only about 30 folks confirmed up, not a lot occurred and it was over in a few hours. But at its conclusion, when Source returned to the parking zone, some attendees had modified their garments. At least eight have been carrying Proud Boys hoodies. They have been shouting that their automobiles had been vandalized. They wouldn’t clarify the wardrobe change and have been indignant on the query.
The power and anger that fueled the Trump motion and the January 6 Capitol riot are nonetheless on the market, swirling round, and it is not clear but who’s going to grab them and to what ends. At the second, it seems the Patriot Party is changing into one vessel for that power. But even these inside it usually are not positive who their comrades are.
The “awareness march” was organized by a person named Richard “Dick” Schwetz. Schwetz, who typically goes by Dick Sweats on-line and who indicated his title had posed a problem for many of his life, has publicly, on video, mentioned he is a Proud Boy. But as he waited within the parking zone for a bus full of girls that was supposedly coming from Pittsburgh that by no means confirmed, Schwetz denied this occasion had something to do with that group.
“This isn’t about the Proud Boys. It’s about the Patriot Party,” he mentioned. Asked if the Patriot Party was placing a friendlier face, with a cute lion brand, on extra violent actors, like militias or the Proud Boys, Schwetz mentioned, “Stop. See that’s where you guys go. You go too deep.”
Source then pointed to the pile of merchandise seen behind Schwetz’s automotive, which included hats with the Patriot Party brand within the Proud Boys’ black-and-gold colours. Was that supposed to appear to be the Proud Boys? Schwetz mentioned, “No, I don’t, I — I just had yellow vinyl. I’m sorry. That’s all I had left over.”
Schwetz advised Source that one motive for the rally was to “set up official Patriot Party representatives.”
“The only way we could figure out to do that, since we’re all deplatformed from every single social media outlet there is, is by meeting up in person and doing it the old-fashioned way. I got the pen and paper and everything,” Schwetz mentioned. It’s onerous to inform who’s for actual on-line, he admitted. “It’s a digital world. It’s unfortunate.”
There are a number of nationwide Patriot Party Telegram channels and teams in each state. There usually are not clear leaders. Many followers say they have been kicked off Facebook and Twitter, so that they principally arrange on Telegram — the place anybody can be a part of beneath any title.
There, individuals are sharing the identical disinformation concerning the election, QAnon, Covid-19 and the riot itself that’s typically banned from different social media.
Source has spoken to a number of folks in these channels who have been on the Capitol on January 6.
One one that was on the Capitol and in addition in Harrisburg was Andy Walker, a daily at “Stop the Steal” occasions in Pennsylvania after the election. “We want our freedoms back. We want the constitutional way,” Walker mentioned. “The laws that … this nation was founded on … And there’s the censorship, the banning. Everything’s getting out of control.”
Walker mentioned he needed to get Patriot Party varieties elected to native authorities. Like different folks on the rally, he mentioned he believed the election had been stolen. It wasn’t.
Walker mentioned he’d marched to the Capitol on January 6, however he denied going contained in the constructing. “I’d do it again,” he mentioned. “What do they expect from us when we’ve been suppressed and shut down and silenced?”
The Patriot Party supporters frolicked for a bit on the state Capitol steps in Harrisburg. Two girls got here by to lift consciousness a couple of lawsuit they thought would overturn the election outcomes. Some made plans to satisfy at a restaurant later. A lady requested the Source crew if the journalists appreciated the American flag.
Then the rallygoers walked again to their automobiles, shouting, “Bye, CNN!” We hung round speaking to folks for a number of extra minutes, then headed again to the parking zone, the place we discovered an odd scene. The Patriot Party supporters have been distraught. And some have been carrying totally different garments.
At least eight have been carrying Lehigh Valley Proud Boys hoodies, some with yellow bandannas. One was carrying a strikingly comparable black-and-gold Patriot Party hoodie. They have been shouting. They mentioned “domestic terrorists” had vandalized their automobiles — nails behind the tires, two flags stolen, spray paint on the windshield and home windows of two autos, and one tire slashed.
“This is the aftereffects of domestic terrorism against conservatives in this country, which has been happening forever!” Schwetz mentioned.
When Source identified that the Proud Boys have been there, Schwetz mentioned, “I don’t know, I never heard of them, never heard of those guys.”
In a video later posted to Telegram, Schwetz mentioned, “We got our boys here.”
No one would reply the query of why the Proud Boys had become their hoodies or why they’d come within the first place. A lady shouted, “Leave the Proud Boys alone!”
Walker, whose tire was slashed, turned indignant when Source requested who he thought had finished it. “First of all I don’t think anybody said anything about antifa. It’s domestic terrorism, that’s what it is. Nobody said anything about antifa. Nobody said anything about BLM,” Walker mentioned.
When requested who he thought did it, Walker turned enraged, shouting, “I don’t give a s***! Does it matter who it was? Nobody gives a s*** who the f*** it was! It happened! I don’t give a s***!”
(In a video recorded minutes later in the identical parking zone after which posted to the Patriot Party of PA Telegram channel, Schwetz did blame antifa, saying, “We came back earlier because of threats being made on telegram by antifa. … They came out and pretty much attacked us right away just assuming that because we’re men and we’re patriots that obviously we’re the enemy.”)
“We weren’t doing anything to anybody,” a lady chimed in. Some different males shouted, although it was incomprehensible in our audio recording.
When requested, repeatedly, how he reconciled the truth that he’d mentioned the occasion had nothing to do with the Proud Boys and but there they have been, Schwetz responded, “I have asked you to be respectful about the fact that it was a Patriot Party event. You keep going back to something has nothing to do with that.”
Schwetz referred to as the police. A Black police officer eyed the Confederate flag sticker on Walker’s truck as he surveyed the injury.