James Lawler Duggan / Reuters
Conservatives online are seizing on a call for peaceful protest and casting it as a call for violent revolution online.
An anti-Trump group called Refuse Fascism is calling for an Occupy-style protest starting November 4th. Organizers are asking protesters to camp out in the streets until the Trump administration is no longer in power.
Known best for its ubiquitous signs emblazoned with a black-and-white “NO!” and for accidentally doxxing its own members, Refuse Fascism advocates for the impeachment of Trump in the belief that his administration is a step closer to a fascist American government.
Sunsara Taylor, one of the co-founders of the group, previously told BuzzFeed News that Refuse Fascism organizes peaceful demonstrations — November 4 included — in order to attract as broad a base as possible. However, Taylor says the group does not condemn tactics other anti-Trump protesters employ, including violence. Neither Taylor nor Refuse Fascism immediately responded to a request for comment about the conservative backlash to their event, but Refuse Fascism's voicemail states, “November 4th: mass nonviolent demonstration begins.”
Refuse Fascism's call-to-action on its website reads:
ON NOVEMBER 4, 2017:
We will gather in the streets and public squares of cities and towns across this country, at first many thousands declaring that this whole regime is illegitimate and that we will not stop until our single demand is met: This Nightmare Must End: the Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!
Our protest must grow day after day and night after night—thousands becoming hundreds of thousands, and then millions—determined to act to put a stop to the grave danger that the Trump/Pence Regime poses to the world by demanding that this whole regime be removed from power
It does not mention violence.
Jordan Peltz, who works for the private company US Warrant Service, posted a video to his YouTube channel in late September warning of an upcoming civil war. The video has been reposted and viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
In the video, he says, “On [antifa's] website, they're calling for an open civil war, which they will start in November. They are fundraising for weapons, ammunition, training, supplies…They're openly fundraising so they can attack.” Refuse Fascism is not asking for firearms or ammunition, according to its website.
Peltz has been incorrectly identified as a law enforcement agent. He has worked for a private company called US Warrant Service, a private contractor that describes itself as an “elite paramilitary reconnaissance and warrant agency.” US Warrant Service has operated out of Denver since November 2016, according to the company's website.
Peltz says that antifa members plan to attack first responders and “anyone in uniform” and then “white people and Trump supporters because you're a Nazi to them…I don't know why we're allowing this, but if our leadership isn't going to step up and finish this, we have to. That is our right, and that is what we must do.”
Peltz claims on Craigslist the video has been viewed millions of times and that he has been doxxed because of it. He did not immediately respond to request for comment. He also maintains a Facebook page called Veritas Aequitas USA — Hosted by Jordan Peltz, which features a donkey wearing a Nazi armband as its profile picture.
No other self-proclaimed anti-fascist collectives have said on social media that they're planning to participate in the November 4th protests, contrary to the right-wing assertion that antifa writ large is calling for a giant, violent protest.
There are dozens of other videos like Peltz's on YouTube. They've been viewed millions of times collectively.
Here are a few of them:
“Antifa Plan Civil War To Overthrow the Government On Nov 4, 2017” — 152,000 views
“Civil unrest/ nov. 4th” — 338,000 views
“Trump Could Declare Martial Law In FIVE Cities After Receivig [sic] Chilling Warning About Nov. 4th | Top” — 250,000 views
“The Nov 4th civil war explained. Don't fall for it!!!!!” — 141,000 views
“Antifa To Start The War On November 4th” — 384,000 views
Alex Jones' YouTube channel, which has two million subscribers, posted a video on October 25 — “Breaking: DOD Exercise To Simulate National Power Grid Collapse On Antifa Day Of Rage.” It's already been viewed nearly 30,000 times. InfoWars also published an article on the protest echoing Peltz's warning of civil war.
Some conservatives on Twitter are using the hashtag #CivilWar2017:
Though recently, left-wingers have used the hashtag to refute the idea that they are planning violent attacks:
Snopes also posted a debunk of the civil war conspiracy theory.
After his video went viral, Peltz responded to a Facebook post about the video in September, downplaying it by saying he had “little sleep” when he made it. He still says of antifa, though, that he will “stomp them out for good.”
“We're not p***ies, so we don't have to hide our faces.”