The concept and, maybe simply as necessary, the brand, have been circulating on social media since final summer season. But after the Capitol riot and swearing-in of President Joe Biden, Patriot Party teams have shaped and multiplied, totally on Telegram, where 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 individuals confirmed up, not a lot occurred and it was over in a couple of hours. But at its conclusion, when CNN returned to the parking zone, some attendees had modified their garments. At least eight had been sporting Proud Boys hoodies. They had been shouting that their vehicles had been vandalized. They wouldn’t clarify the wardrobe change and had been offended on the query.
The vitality and anger that fueled the Trump motion and the January 6 Capitol riot are nonetheless on the market, swirling round, and it isn’t clear but who’s going to grab them and to what ends. At the second, it seems the Patriot Party is turning into one vessel for that vitality. But even these inside it will not be positive who their comrades are.
The “awareness march” was organized by a man named Richard “Dick” Schwetz. Schwetz, who typically goes by Dick Sweats on-line and who indicated his identify had posed a problem for most of his life, has publicly, on video, stated he is a Proud Boy. But as he waited within the parking zone for a bus full of ladies 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 stated. 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 stated, “Stop. See that’s where you guys go. You go too deep.”
CNN then pointed to the pile of merchandise seen behind Schwetz’s automobile, which included hats with the Patriot Party brand within the Proud Boys’ black-and-gold colours. Was that supposed to appear like the Proud Boys? Schwetz stated, “No, I don’t, I — I just had yellow vinyl. I’m sorry. That’s all I had left over.”
Schwetz advised CNN that one cause 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 stated. It’s exhausting 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 will not be clear leaders. Many followers say they have been kicked off Facebook and Twitter, in order that they largely arrange on Telegram — where anybody can be a part of underneath any identify.
There, individuals are sharing the identical disinformation in regards to the election, QAnon, Covid-19 and the riot itself that’s typically banned from different social media.
CNN has spoken to a number of individuals in these channels who had been on the Capitol on January 6.
One one that was on the Capitol and likewise in Harrisburg was Andy Walker, a common at “Stop the Steal” occasions in Pennsylvania after the election. “We want our freedoms back. We want the constitutional way,” Walker stated. “The laws that … this nation was founded on … And there’s the censorship, the banning. Everything’s getting out of control.”
Walker stated he needed to get Patriot Party sorts elected to native authorities. Like different individuals on the rally, he stated he believed the election had been stolen. It wasn’t.
Walker stated he’d marched to the Capitol on January 6, however he denied going contained in the constructing. “I’d do it again,” he stated. “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 ladies got here by to lift consciousness about a lawsuit they thought would overturn the election outcomes. Some made plans to satisfy at a restaurant later. A lady requested the CNN crew if the journalists favored the American flag.
Then the rallygoers walked again to their vehicles, shouting, “Bye, CNN!” We hung round speaking to individuals for a few extra minutes, then headed again to the parking zone, where we discovered a unusual scene. The Patriot Party supporters had been distraught. And some had been sporting completely different garments.
At least eight had been sporting Lehigh Valley Proud Boys hoodies, some with yellow bandannas. One was sporting a strikingly comparable black-and-gold Patriot Party hoodie. They had been shouting. They stated “domestic terrorists” had vandalized their vehicles — nails behind the tires, two flags stolen, spray paint on the windshield and home windows of two automobiles, and one tire slashed.
“This is the aftereffects of domestic terrorism against conservatives in this country, which has been happening forever!” Schwetz stated.
When CNN identified that the Proud Boys had been there, Schwetz stated, “I don’t know, I never heard of them, never heard of those guys.”
In a video later posted to Telegram, Schwetz stated, “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 offended when CNN requested who he thought had accomplished 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 stated.
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 stated the occasion had nothing to do with the Proud Boys and but there they had 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 known as the police. A Black police officer eyed the Confederate flag sticker on Walker’s truck as he surveyed the harm.