Twitter recently started taking action against “QAnon” accounts — and I am absolutely thrilled about it! In a thread on @TwitterSafety, Twitter stated that the company “will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm.”
On December 4, 2016, Edgar Maddison Welch, a 28-year-old man from Salisbury, North Carolina, went to a pizza place called Comet Ping Pong.
He wasn’t there to eat pizza. Welch brought what police described as an “assault rifle” with him and fired it, multiple times, inside the restaurant. Luckily, no one was hurt. The police also recovered two firearms from inside the restaurant and an additional weapon from Welch’s vehicle.
Edgar Maddison Welch was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.
Why did Welch do this? Welch said he came to the pizza place to investigate “Pizza Gate” (a conspiracy theory that is spread by followers of “QAnon”). Welch had become convinced that the Comet Ping Pong was allowing Bill and Hillary Clinton, and her former campaign manager, to “run a child sex slave ring” in the basement of the restaurant.
Comet Ping Pong does not have a basement.
On March 24, 2017, that Edgar Maddison Welch pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a federal charge of interstate transportation of a firearm with intent to commit an offense and a local charge of assault with a dangerous weapon. On June 22, 2017, Welch was sentenced to 48 months in prison.
Michael Hari, Michael McWhorter, and Joe Morris, three members of the “White Rabbit Three Percent Illinois Patriot Freedom Fighters Militia”, rented a truck in August of 2017, and drove 500 miles from Illinois to fire bomb the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota.
The Southern Poverty Law Center points out that “white rabbit” is a phrase connected to “QAnon”, whose followers encourage one another to “follow the white rabbit”. Michael Hari published “The White Rabbit Handbook” on Amazon in the same month that “QAnon” appeared.
Michael Hari picked the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center because it was far enough away from the White Rabbits’ central Illinois hometown that he he thought they would not be suspected. He also believed it was a focal point for terror recruiting. There is no evidence that that the mosque was engaging in that.
Michael McWhorter, 29, and Joe Morris, 23, pleaded guilty to federal charges that originated in both the District of Minnesota and the Central District of Illinois. McWhorter, Morris, and Michael Hari, 47, were federally indicted on possession of a machine gun; conspiracy by threats and violence, and attempted arson.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Minnesota, Hari built the bomb, but did not tell McWhorter and Morris about it until after the three had rented the truck and started driving to Minnesota. Morris broke a window on the mosque, and McWhorter lit the fuse on the bomb and threw it inside. Hari waited for them in the truck.
In addition McWhorter and Morris, along with Hari, attempted to set the Women’s Health Practice in Champaign, Illinois, on fire, on November 7, 2017. Morris broke a window and placed an incendiary device inside, and attempted to light a strip of magnesium that was used as the fuse. The device failed to explode.
On January 24, 2019, both McWhorter and Morris were convicted of: intentionally obstructing and attempting to obstruct by force and the threat of force the free exercise of religious beliefs; carrying and using a destructive device during and in relation to crimes of violence; possession of a machine gun; conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats of violence; and attempted arson.
Hari was convicted of: Intentionally defacing, damaging, and destroying any religious real property because of the religious character of that property; intentionally obstructing and attempting to obstruct by force and the threat of force the free exercise of religious beliefs; conspiracy to commit federal felonies by means of fire and explosives; carrying and using a destructive device and in relation to crimes of violence; and possession of an unregistered destructive device.
In July of 2018, Matthew P. Wright, a 30-year-old ex-Marine from Henderson Nevada, drove his homemade armored vehicle onto the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge leading to the Hoover Dam. He blocked traffic for almost two hours.
Previous to doing this, Wright sent letters to President Trump, members of Nevada’s congressional delegation, the FBI and CIA, and other federal agencies. The letters included the phrase “For where we go one, we go all”, a phrase used by followers of “QAnon”. (They tend to abbreviate it on social media to just the first letters of each of those words, and often put a # in front of it).
Wright then drove his vehicle across the bridge, where his tires were flattened by spike strips. He ended up stuck on a dirt road where he surrendered. Authorities found a military-style AR-15 rifle, a handgun, multiple magazines of ammunition and a flash-bang explosive device inside Wright’s vehicle.
Matthew Wright pleaded guilty to a charges of terrorism, aggravated assault, and fleeing from law enforcement. Under state sentencing guidelines, he could spend less than a decade in prison.
In a letter he wrote from jail, Wright stated that he held up a sign that said “Release the OIG report” during the standoff because he wanted to bring out what he thought were hidden truths to the public.
One of “QAnon’s” conspiracy theories centers on a supposedly government insider who “QAnon” follower believe is releasing revelations with cryptic language. One thing “QAnon” followers believe is that the investigation led by Robert Muller was to expose crimes involving Obama administration officials.
In reality, The Muller Report centered on collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and situations where Trump possibly obstructed justice. There is nothing in the Muller Report that a rational person would consider to have anything to do with the Obama administration.
In January of 2019, a video was posted to a YouTube account run by Paul and Chrissy Jaselskis at 8:07 p.m. ET. It was called “Melissa Video”, and it included nonsense pushed by “QAnon”. The video alleged that the world is run by a Satanic global pedophile ring that is fronted by celebrities and Hillary Clinton.
The YouTube account belonged to Paul and Chrissy, who were parents of Ryan Jaselskis, (22), who also used the account. He was the one who reposted the “Melissa Video” onto that YouTube account.
That same night, about an hour after the video was posted, a fire broke out at Comet Ping Pong (the same pizza place Edgar Maddison Welch entered with a gun in 2016). Security footage showed Ryan Jaslskis walking into Comet Ping Pong carrying a bag with lighter fluid inside.
The footage showed that Jaselskis “doused the curtains inside the restaurant with lighter fluid and set them on fire.” A customer at the restaurant and two employees attempted to put out the fire as Jaselskis left the building. The customer and employees were able to put out the fire before firefighters arrived.
A police camera captured footage of Jaselskis walking out of the pizza restaurant around the time of the fire. A witness also identified him as he left the restaurant.
On December 17, 2019, Ryan Jaselskis pleaded guilty to one count of arson and one count of assaulting a federal law enforcement officer. He was sentenced on April 26, 2020, to four years in prison and three years of supervised release.
Anthony Comello was arrested after he shot and killed Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, a Gambino crime family underboss. At first, this was believed to be a mob hit. But, Anthony Comello is not part of the mob.
Instead, he is a follower of “QAnon”. Comello believed that Francesco Cali was part of the “deep state”, and decided to take it upon himself to enact a citizen’s arrest on Cali. His plan was to take Cali into custody.
“QAnon” supporters believe in a “deep state” conspiracy theory. They believe that President Trump is “leading a winning battle against” the deep state forces. It has become common for “QAnon” supporters to attend Trump rallies.
He ended up killing Cali. Reportedly, Comello believed that President Trump would support what he had done. Comello was charged with second-degree murder.
At a court hearing shortly after his arrest, Anthony Comello held up his palms, which had ink scribbling of MAGA (for Make America Great Again) and the letter Q (a “QAnon” symbol).
In December of 2019, Anthony Comello refused to cooperate with a state mental exam. Judge William E. Garnett stated that he wanted a mental examination of Comello from the prosecution and defense by January 3, 2020.
On June 3, 2020, Anthony Comello had been deemed mentally unfit for trial. Both the prosecutors and the defense confirmed that finding during a remote conference. Judge William E. Garnett order Comello (now 25), transferred to a state Office of Mental Health facility for further evaluation. Comello is charged with murder and criminal weapon possession.
It is clear that Twitter had plenty of examples “QAnon” supporters engaging in offline harm. The FBI identified “QAnon” as a domestic terrorism threat in 2019.
In addition to permanently suspending accounts that tweeting about “QAnon” topics, Twitter will also permanently suspend accounts that have engaged in violations of the platform’s multiple-account policy.
Twitter will also permanently suspend accounts coordinating abuse around individual victims, and accounts of those that are attempting to evade a previous suspension. Twitter noted that they have seen more of that in recent weeks.
In addition, Twitter will no longer serve content and accounts associated with “QAnon” in Trends and recommendations. It will work to ensure Twitter is not highlighting “QAnon” related activity in search and conversations. And, it will block URLs associated with “QAnon” from being shared on Twitter.
According to NBC News, Twitter has taken down more than 7,000 “QAnon” accounts in the last few weeks for breaking the rules about targeted harassment. The action being taken by Twitter will definitely reduce the amount of hate, misinformation, and harassment on the platform.
Originally published at https://bookofjen.net on July 23, 2020.