QAnon Pivots Its Online Movement In Exile To The Real World
The crowd pulsed as over 1,500 participants stomped and sang “We’re Not Gonna Take It! As the For God & Country Patriot Roundup, a QAnon-related conference in Dallas in late May, began with tales of unity and love, speakers hinted or bluntly talked about a second insurgency, including in a video with the words “INSURRECTION to RESURRECTION” and “THE ONLY WAY IS THE MILITARY”, and General Michael Flynn’s now infamous suggestion that a Burmese-style coup set to take place in US.
While many have wondered how QAnon would survive without their anonymous “boss,” Q, the event marked a new phase as online conspiracy theories turn into in-person actions and events. Similar to other efforts to overturn the 2020 election based on false allegations of voter fraud, including the recent move by former President Trump Ohio Rally and continued support for the Maricopa County audit – the Patriot Roundup brought a new sense of urgency and motivation that speakers sought to channel into local political action. And while QAnon has struggled to recruit online, the movement has found new communities to target, including evangelical Christians.
Throughout the weekend, speakers advocated for local political engagement and face-to-face meetings, with a particular focus on school boards, child protection services and local office application. For example, when asked about the upcoming “military courts” and his overthrow of the elections “KrakenFormer Trump lawyer and Lawyer QAnon Sidney Powell insisted the only plan is to get involved in local politics. “No, there are no ongoing military courts,” she said. “There is no one who is going to magically solve this problem for us.” She then encouraged participants to get involved “in your precincts, in your school districts, in every part of your life to reclaim this country”. While politically engaged supporters of QAnon have run for the local office in the past, the conference marked a formalized coordinated effort.
The push for local activity and offline events is a crucial response to QAnon’s deplatform of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube. Throughout the weekend, speakers made these cutbacks a key narrative of oppression. Hinting at the removal of the QAnon supporter platform immediately after January 6, one speaker, “Kate Awakening,” called it “the Purge” and said: “It was almost like the scene from Titanic. “
“Getting together was the inevitable next step,” said Brad Getz, a QAnon content creator and another speaker. “They can censor us – you know we’re just going to take it on the road then.”
Others have made extreme and inaccurate comparisons to the gulags. “They don’t need gulags, gas chambers and killing fields because the technology available today allows them to do so by writing a line of code,” said speaker Evan Sayet. “This Jew has been electronically ghettoized. They took my voice out of the Facebook community. They took my voice out of the Twitter community. I am in Zuckerberg’s gulag, because even if it is not the same and the method is not the same, the result, the goal, is the same.
Flynn, a keynote speaker, compared the deplatform to a military conflict: “We have been chosen by the titans of social media technology left and right… We are fighting for an information beachhead right now. . “
Speakers and attendees also continued to speak energetically about the fight against electoral fraud and mythologized the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill. Many have referred to the Maricopa County “audit”, a vote recount that is considered highly partisan and was rejected by the GOP Chairman of the County of Maricopa Supervisory Board. Many participants believed this would produce a chain reaction of similar audits in others. States which would eventually reverse the verified and certified results of the 2020 election. Maricopa style audits promoted by Robin Vos in Wisconsin, Steve Carra in Michigan, and Dave Argall in Pennsylvania, among others, are poised to continue to fuel this narrative and the violence associated with it.
Many attendees and speakers also shared stories of their presence on Capitol Hill on January 6 with pride, nostalgia, and invariably cheers.
“We know the media, your friends, your family want to shame you and tell you that you did something wrong… I wear January 6 myself as a badge of honor,” said Couy Griffin, a New Mexico county official who is under investigation for violation of the Capitol. Referring to QAnon’s motto, Griffin exclaimed, “Because where we’re going one…” and the audience responded, “We’re all going! “