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Proud Boys channels are exploding on Telegram
Jan. 14, 2021
Kevin Grisham, associate director of CSUSB’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, discussed the social media migration of the extremist group the Proud Boys to encrypted messaging apps Telegram and Signal as mainstream social media companies such as Twitter work to remove accounts tied to extremists.
“What we’re seeing right now is because of the deplatforming, all those people on Parler who were not Proud Boys but believed in Trump’s arguments and points, were creating similar channels on Telegram as Parler was getting ready to be taken down,” Grisham says, referring to the right-wing social media network. “Now you have people who may have never had much interaction with Proud Boy people and are now on a platform that Proud Boys have traditionally had presence.”
Grisham also discussed how the group is being perceived.
“If you think back to the debate where they were called out [by Joe Biden] and called a white supremacist organization and they came out and said ‘no we’re not,’ what’s been interesting is since the protests, you’re starting to see this shift…. They are really starting to put their ideology out there, like ‘this is what we truly stand for,'” says Grisham. “I think they’ve realized they can take the mantle of some of these other extremist groups” such as QAnon or white supremacist organizations, which are decentralized, fragmented, and floundering in the wake of Trump’s downfall.
He is particularly concerned about cross-pollination with the boogaloo movement, which has also been organizing and recruiting on Telegram: “that mixing could create some really dangerous situations,” he says.
Read the complete article at “Proud Boys channels are exploding on Telegram.”
CSUSB professor discusses QAnon influencers on paid subscription service Patreon
Jan. 13, 2021
Kevin Grisham, associate director of CSUSB’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, was interviewed for an article about aspiring and well-established QAnon influencers that are directly profiting off the paid subscription service platform Patreon, despite the website publicly cracking down on accounts pushing the conspiracy theory last winter.
Patreon is a way for QAnon influencers to “pull people into the movement more softly,” subtly presenting the central tenets of the conspiracy theory versus more fringe platforms like Telegram or Gab, says Grisham. “Because it’s a way for artists to get their work out there, it’s a way to pull people in from the art community or the meditation and yoga communities — places you traditionally wouldn’t have seen lots of overlap.”
Read the complete article at “Patreon Claimed They Kicked Conspiracy Theorists Off. QAnon Still Flourishes.”
CSUSB professor interviewed about state’s security preparations leading to Jan. 20 presidential inauguration
Jan. 15, 2021
Brian Levin, director of CSUSB’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, comments on the activation of the National Guard by Gov. Gavin Newsom as state officials take precautions over concerns of civil unrest ahead of President Donald Trump leaving office. The Capitol already has been the site of weekly weekend clashes between Trump supporters and counter-demonstrators.
“We’ve had continuing protests, but we kind of know who the characters are, so the biggest concern I think would come from some wild card,” Levin said, referring to a loner or a small group organized outside of social media that has been largely shut down or scrubbed since the clash in Washington, D.C.
“We’re not seeing the kind of intensity and geographic-specific chatter and activity that we’re seeing with other states,” Levin said. Yet officials are wise to prepare “as if Sacramento was in the first tier.”
Read the complete article at “California mobilizes National Guard amid concern over unrest.
Newsom’s call-up of National Guard to protect state Capitol ‘wise,’ CSUSB professor says
Los Angeles Times
Jan. 14, 2021
Brian Levin, director of the CSUSB Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call-up of the National Guard was “wise,” as state officials nationwide take steps to counter possible violence by right-wing extremists in the days leading to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Levin said that those who track extremist movements are not seeing evidence of a large-scale action planned in Sacramento. He said organized actions are more likely in states with open carry laws, or places where Trump supporters have been vocal about debunked theories of election fraud, including the Pacific Northwest, Georgia, and midwestern states including Ohio and Pennsylvania.
But Levin also cautioned that the violent insurgency in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 may have emboldened lone actors, or small groups of extremists. There is concern among California authorities, he said, that those individuals could plan violence on secondary targets, such as the homes of government officials or public buildings away from the state Capitol, largely acting alone. For that reason, Levin said, calling in the National Guard is “wise.”
“[It’s] the wild card, the do-it-yourselfers, that I am concerned about,” Levin said. “I am concerned about someone who not only dined at an ideology buffet, but who also seeks some kind of notoriety or is unstable and gloms on to the shiny object of the week.”
Read the complete article at “Newsom orders National Guard protection for California’s state Capitol.”
Nation may face period of prolonged strife related to 2020 presidential election, CSUSB professor says
The Mercury News/Bay Area News Group
Jan. 15, 2021
As state and federal officials prepare for a possible surge in violence leading up to the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration, an expert who monitors radical groups warns that the country is in for a period of prolonged strife.
“We’re entering a new insurgency which is going to last longer than this particular transition period,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “It would have even without the Capitol insurrection. Now everything’s supercharged.”
Read the complete article at “California National Guard activated to help secure state Capitol against potential armed protests.”
Difference in rhetoric of protests of hard right and BLM highlighted by CSUSB professor
ABC 10 (Sacramento)
Jan. 15, 2021
A segment about the resignation of an official with the California Republican Assembly (CRA), a volunteer organization, after his involvement in the violence on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 included an interview with Brian Levin, director of CSUSB’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
A CRA statement appeared to compare what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, to many of the other protests that have happened over the last six months in the United States.
Levin argued that the groups are very different. “Black Lives Matter, if you look at the leadership and the messaging coming out of there, it’s for peaceful social justice protests," Levin said. "You’re not hearing that from some of the extremists on the hard, hard right.”
Watch the online video and read the related report at “Sacramento man resigns from positions in California Republican Assembly due to participation in U.S. Capitol riot.”
CSUSB professor comments on arrest of Glendora man on charges related to Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot
KCBS TV (Los Angeles)
Jan. 15, 2021
Brian Levin, director of CSUSB’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, was interviewed for a segment about a 20-year-old Glendora man who has been arrested on various federal charges, including suspicion of breaking a window during the storming of the U.S. Capitol building last week.
“Not only am I not surprised that they are going after him on federal charges, I hope they throw the book at him,” Levin said. He expects more charges to be filed against the man, Hunter Allen Ehmke.
“We often see at these highly charged protests are different levels of engagement, and, indeed, people who want to perpetrate insurrectional violence,” Levin said.
As California responds to FBI warnings about potential violence by extremists leading up to the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, the newscast interviewed Brian Levin, director of CSUSB’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, on the state’s security steps, including the activation of the National Guard.
Levin said there have been more threats made recently against public officials, “not only at their workplaces, but at state capitols and in their homes. I think you have to look at each region what the particular threat is. Some, it might relate more to ‘stop the steal’ stuff, some might be more related to COVID restrictions.”
These news clips and others may be viewed at “In the Headlines.”