DATA RELEASE: Discord Logs Expose Regional Networks Planning for #UniteTheRight

Charlottesville, VA – More than two weeks after the white supremacist Unite The Right event ended in a vehicular mass attack that left a woman murdered and nineteen people injured, many details from August 12 remain unresolved. Unicorn Riot obtained access to thousands of internet messages, files and plans used to organize white supremacist attacks in Charlottesville. Published below is the final large batch of 1066 screenshots from the primary Charlottesville Discord chat server.

Charlottesville Police came under criticism for passive inaction amidst armed white supremacists charging at crowds of counterdemonstrators on August 12. Going on two weeks later, Virginia authorities began making arrests and issuing warrants for violent far-right participants after reporters and law firms compiled the identities of men involved in some of the brutal assaults.

Two men have recently been arrested for the attack of DeAndre Harris, beaten in a parking garage by white supremacists with wooden sticks and is still receiving treatment for serious injuries.

Our reporting team in Charlottesville documented that the logo of the ‘face of American fascism’, Vanguard America, was on a shield used in the parking garage attack.

In another incident earlier on August 12, A man who fired a gun at a counter-demonstrator received more scrutiny after video surfaced. Unicorn Riot photographed Baltimore County-based Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard Richard Preston shortly before he attacked.

New video released by the ACLU of Virginia shows Preston pull a gun, point it at a black man who he calls n***er, and fire a shot towards the crowd of counter-protesters. Police in the video can be seen standing nearby, not responding at all after the shot rings out.

The various acts of violence carried out by far-right, white supremacist, and militia groups in Charlottesville earlier this month were not random, but were the natural result of months of planning between different groups leading up to the event. Much of this planning took place over Discord, a group text and voice chat platform marketed to gamers. Unicorn Riot was contacted by an anonymous source who provided us with access to several Discord servers associated with Unite The Right.

Today, we publish our fifth and final batch of over one thousand screenshots from the “Charlottesville 2.0” Discord server, used by organizers such as Jason Kessler and Eli Mosley to assemble resources and prepare participants for the event. This release documents white supremacists trying to develop clusters of connections and support work among different states. The overall aim of the organizers was to create a larger basket of affinity-group-like crews that could advance racist agendas closer to home, and build infrastructure for similar swarm activity to be used for future events.

(This is the end of our series of large screenshot releases from the Charlottesville 2.0 Discord server but we will be publishing additional data from related sources in coming days and weeks.)

The chat channels from the Charlottesville 2.0 server included in this release include regional and logistical messages: #alex_jones_chat, #pictures_and_video, #beltway_bigots, #virginia_laws, #lodging, #lodging_wanted, #lodging_available, #carpool_wanted, #carpool_available, #ny_nj, #dc_va_md, #ma_ct_ri, #vt_nh_me, #great_lakes_region, #midwest_region, #ky_tn, #tx_ok, #florida, #georgia, #carolinas, #california_pacific_nw, and #self-promotion.

Here is a slideshow of the 1066 images:

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The #alex_jones_chat channel mostly consists of gratuitous amounts of Alex Jones memes (which we mostly opted not to bother including) and various other self-admitted “shitposting.” At some points, white supremacists planning on attending Unite The Right shared selfies of themselves with their pets, or of themselves on the road to the event.

Chat participants also flaunted image templates for displaying swastikas and other Nazi symbols on their smart watches.

The #pictures_and_video channel features some conversations on messaging to be used at the event, as well as Unite The Right attendees sharing pictures taken at the torchlight rally on the night of Friday, August 11.

Baltimore wedding photographer and white supremacist organizer Colton Merwin also used this channel to solicit help working on a documentary about Unite The Right.

The channel #beltway_bigots appears to have served as a venue to discuss other activities in the DC and Virginia areas earlier in the summer. The channel was used to try to plan instances of ‘entryism’ in the Washington region, a key tactic of trying to mainstream racist and fascist thinking and personalities.

Local Charlottesville Unite The Right organizer Jason Kessler repeatedly posts in #beltway_bigots about his intention, at various events, to try to provoke antifascists into a violent confrontation that could be spun as an attack against regular conservatives (as opposed to genuine white supremacists like Kessler.)

At one point, Kessler brags to other Discord users about stealing a sign his neighbors had put on their lawn which read “no matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” in several languages.

A discussion abut the signs quickly veered off into a discussion of how Quaker homes and places of worship should be considered as targets for attacks due to their historical support for left-wing causes.

In another message in the same channel, Kessler announces his intention to entice people to burn LGBTQ pride flags.

We also found discussion of alt-right and militia events held earlier in the summer, including an operational document drafted by white supremacists attending the March Against Sharia at the Pennsylvania capitol in Harrisburg on June 10.

HarrisburgNotes2

Hammering out the strategy for how heavily armed they could roll into Charlottesville in the channel #virginia_laws, Unite The Right attendees discuss the various state and local laws regarding open-carry, shooting and killing people under Stand Your Ground laws, and related topics. They also discuss various types of weapons, and whether they could get in trouble for (or get away with) using them to attack antifascist counter-protesters.

The white supremacists preparing to arrive en masse in Charlottesville also seemed to have a high degree of confidence that the police would be sympathetic to their cause, and generally concerned with repressing anti-racist counter-demonstrators. However, there was still some debate among the neo-Nazi rally-goers as to how to feel about the police.

The #lodging channel mostly consists of dozens of posts of area homes and rooms to rent on AirBnB. However, on August 5, Unite The Right attendees began to notice their AirBnB reservations were being cancelled, and their accounts closed, due to violations of the company’s Terms of Service.

Most of the other channels, #ny_nj, #dc_va_md, #ma_ct_ri, #vt_nh_me, #great_lakes_region, #midwest_region, #ky_tn, #tx_ok, #florida, #georgia, #carolinas and #california_pacific_nw, show white supremacist Unite The Right attendees and supporters from various states connecting with each other and exchanging plans for carpooling and sharing housing.

The #self_promotion channel features various Discord users sharing links to their personal podcasts, YouTube accounts, fundraising pages, bands, and other projects, almost all of which are overtly connected to neo-Nazi or white supremacist messaging.

The end of this last batch of screenshots also includes images showing various Discord usernames that were active in the Charlottesville 2.0 server at the time the screenshots were taken.

In the wake of Charlottesville, white supremacist and “alt-right”-backed events across the country continue to either be cancelled, shut down, or vastly outnumbered by counter-protestors. Various civil lawsuits are underway against those involved in organizing Unite The Right. For the most part, the organized far-right affinity-group-like formations seen in Charlottesville have ducked out of sight on American streets as a much larger general public outcry rises coast to coast against their agenda for a “white ethnostate” enforced by racialized violence.

Evidence of planning conversations carried out over Discord may play a major role in litigation by victims of white supremacist attacks on August 12, lawyers working on the case told WIRED last week.

While many other countries have tighter restrictions on advocating genocide and racialized violence than the United States, here the landmark 1969 Supreme Court decision, Brandenberg v. Ohio defines an important test of whether speech is legal. In the US the Brandenberg test” for imminent lawless action from this case governs how public rallies and speech can be controlled by the government.

Brandenberg, one of Preston’s Klan predecessors, said, “it’s possible that there might have to be some revengeance [sic] taken.” The Supreme Court held that “Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

As attorneys have observed, the cache of messages from the Charlottesville Discord server constitute many statements that are far more ‘imminent’ in their timing. The messages were written not just before but during white supremacist attacks, directed to specific actions, times and locations, and through mobile devices- much more closely than the more vague threats Brandenberg leveled.  While it is unclear to what extent, evidence found in Discord logs will directly influence not just lawsuits, but how US public officials decide far-right rally permits in the future.


Unicorn Riot’s leaks from Charlottesville:
Unicorn Riot reporting in Charlottesville & beyond:

Unicorn Riot will continue to publish additional materials from Discord servers used for white supremacist organizing. Look out for our upcoming reports, and please take a minute to support us if you can.


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