More trans hatred after mass shooting; 'QAnon shaman' leaves prison after Jan. 6
Far-right extremists across the country have sharpened their rhetoric against the trans community after this week's school shooting in Nashville. Meanwhile, drag shows in Kentucky and Ohio come under threat from extremist groups in a long-running trend. And an FBI informant testifies in the Jan. 6 trial of the Proud Boys.
It's the week in extremism.
Rhetoric against trans community sharpens
Club Q attack 'no surprise': Club Q attack no surprise for extremism experts who saw looming threat, decades-old pattern
For more than a year now, perhaps the single issue that has most unified far-right extremists in America is that of rights for transgender people. Hatred against the trans community has dominated discussions on far-right message boards and social media. That rhetoric hit new levels this week when police stated the assailant in a Nashville school shooting Monday – in which three small children and three adults died – identified as transgender.
Extremist influencers like Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Fox News host Tucker Carlson both honed in on the shooter's gender identity, with Taylor Greene earning a brief suspension from Twitter for her comments. On Tuesday, Carlson called trans people the "Natural enemy" of Christianity.
Personalities on the extremist far-right have been cheering on anti-trans hate for months, long before the baseless claims stemming from Nashville.
That messaging has been taken up by street-level extremists including the Proud Boys gang, white supremacists and neo-Nazis, who have protested at dozens of drag shows around the country, conflating drag with transgenderism.
Fact check: Mass shootings by trans individuals are extremely rare. James Densley, a professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Metro State University who co-founded the Violence Project which monitors mass public killings , told the Washington Post the Nashville shooting was the first recorded mass shooting perpetrated by a trans shooter that the project has recorded.
To date, there have been 132 mass shootings in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Police continue to investigative any motive the killer may have had in this week's attack.
Ohio, Kentucky drag shows threatened
Lawmakers target drag shows: Lawmakers targeting drag shows with 14 bills across U.S., analysis finds
Extremists at Ohio drag event: Nazi salutes, pepper spray and pistols: Ohio drag event devolves into an extremist melee
In a continuation of the growing far-right protest movement against drag shows, a drag queen story time in Louisville, Kentucky was briefly delayed Sunday after the business hosting the event received a bomb threat. And a church in Northern Ohio, was vandalized with a molotov cocktail after announcing a drag story hour planned for this Saturday.
Despite the bomb threat at the Louisville event, the drag queen story time went ahead as planned. The event saw some protestors and at least one armed protester wearing a patch for the John Brown Gun Club, a left-wing gun club that has previously protected drag events.
The Community Church of Chesterland, just East of Cleveland, was vandalized with a molotov cocktail earlier this week after announcing it would hold a drag queen story hour on Saturday. Local police have asked the church to cancel the event, but it was still going ahead as of Thursday evening.
Context: Drag shows, especially those that allow children, have increasingly become targets of far-right extremist protest. An event in Wadsworth, Ohio two weeks ago was protested by armed neo-Nazis who shouted "Sieg heil," as well as local Proud Boys.
Dig deeper: Late last year we published this deep-dive investigation into a drag show in Roanoke, Texas, that was targeted by right-wing extremists but was also protected by armed left-wing activists.
In Kentucky: Read more about this incident from my colleague Chris Kenning here.
'QAnon shaman' leaves prison
Jake Angeli, also known as Jacob Chansley, who as the "QAnon shaman" became known as the face of the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol, was moved from federal prison into a halfway house on Tuesday. Contrary to claims from former President Donald Trump and others, the move was procedural and had nothing to do with Angeli being featured in a recent Tucker Carlson show that misrepresented the insurrection.
Tucker Carlson show drives threats: Exclusive: Social media threats exploded after Tucker Carlson's Jan. 6 claims, analysis finds
Angeli was among the fist rioters to enter the Capitol on Jan. 6. Sporting his horned fur hat and shirtless, he wandered through the Capitol and walked into the Senate chambers. He was not charged with violent crimes, but prosecutors said he played a key role in the insurrection. He was sentenced in Nov. 2021 to 41 months in prison.
Angeli was featured heavily in a misleading segment on Tucker Carlson tonight earlier this month that claimed the Capitol riot was more peaceful than it actually was. Carlson claimed Angeli was escorted around the Capitol by guards.
In a series of tweets Thursday, Chansley's lawyer dismissed claims from conservative pundits and politicians that Carlson's coverage had anything to do with securing his client's freedom.
Quote: "Let me make something CLEAR. The videos released and played on Fox News DID NOT play a role in any 'early release' for Jake Chansely," attorney Bill Shipley wrote.
FBI informant testifies at Proud Boys Jan. 6 trial
The Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy trial of leaders of the Proud Boys is ongoing, weeks after it started. This week, the courtroom heard testimony from one of apparently several FBI informants who joined the extremist street gang and who marched on the Capitol with the group.
Inside the Proud Boys: They joined the Wisconsin Proud Boys looking for brotherhood. They found racism, bullying and antisemitism.
Ex Proud Boy testifies: 'The revolution had failed': Ex-Proud Boy testifies of Jan. 6, group's desperation after lost election
The informant doesn't appear to have been communicating with Proud Boys leaders.
The informant testified he told his FBI handler the Proud Boys didn't instigate the Capitol riot, the Associated Press reported. “The crowd did as a herd mentality. Not organized,” he text messaged his handler.
Context: The Proud Boys seditious conspiracy case is one of the most high-profile prosecutions to come out of the Capitol insurrection. A similar case against leaders of the extremist group the Oath Keepers resulted in guilty verdicts for Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and others.
Statistic of the week: 3 of 2,697 (not 16)
The Washington Post this week laid out how the data simply goes against the notion that there is an "epidemic" of shootings by trans people in America.
It's worth reading in full, but a highlight is this analysis: The Gun Violence Project has counted 2,697 mass shootings — 4 or more people are shot or killed in a shooting incident, not including the shooter, in any circumstance since 2018.
Trans people make up an estimated 0.6% of the U.S. population. If 0.6% of the mass shootings were committed by trans assailants, that would be 16 shootings. Yet only three assailants have been cited by conservatives as trans shooters.
Catch up: Last week in extremism
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: More trans hatred after mass shooting; 'QAnon shaman' leaves prison after Jan. 6