Lansing, MI – As white nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak at Michigan State University on Monday, March 5, far-right, neo-Nazi and “alt-right” factions have been arriving in the area ahead of his event.
One such group is Patriot Front, which was formed after members of Vanguard America splintered off to create a new organization. Unicorn Riot has gained access to a large amount of materials from Patriot Front Discord servers, including chat lots and audio recordings of voice meetings. The records of conversations between Patriot Front leaders and members spans months and provides a unique insight into the operations of the self-described “American fascist” organization.
Content Advisory: racist language and descriptions of sexual assault
Recorded conversations between members show an obsession with firearms, a non-stop tirade of racist, sexist and otherwise abusive language, and a desire to take action in the real world. Patriot Front members are also told that raping women is acceptable, “as long as you’re raping, like, people in your own race” and describe how in their ideal society, “ethnostate rape gangs” would be allowed to freely target unmarried white women who did not adhere to “traditional values.” Discord users in the server repeatedly share pictures of themselves, wrestling, boxing, sparring, and shooting, which they casually refer to as “violence training.”
Last year Unicorn Riot was sent the contents of the Southern Front Discord server, which contained chat logs (now available on our DiscordLeaks platform) from May to September 2017, showing the transition of members from Vanguard America to Patriot Front. Patriot Front’s founder, Thomas Rousseau, who posts using the name Thomas Ryan, was active in Vanguard America leadership and is the owner of the website BloodAndSoil.org, which had been Vanguard America’s official domain.
Following a conflict between Rousseau and Vanguard America ‘CEO’ Dillon Irrizary (AKA Dillon Hopper) after Charlottesville, Rousseau resigned from Vanguard and took the website and a fair amount of active members with him. He founded Patriot Front the next day, and used the established ‘Blood and Soil’ website to boost its profile.
Rousseau, who is 19 years old, acts as the leader of the group, which includes many older men in their thirties. He tells his side of the story of the split between Patriot Front and Vanguard America in a Discord voice call that took place on February 9. On the call, after making jokes reveling in Heather Heyer’s violent death in Charlottesville at Unite the Right on August 12, 2017, Rousseau describes the “PR nightmare” that ensued after pictures surfaced of car attacker James Alex Fields standing alongside members of Vanguard America, including himself. (As of August 12, Rousseau had not yet left Vanguard America to found Patriot Front.)
Rousseau went on to claim that Vanguard America claimed “maybe” 250 members “at its peak” with 80 members actively participating. He boasted of accomplishing “more activism with apparently half of their people,” suggesting that Patriot Front has at most 125 members with perhaps 60 being regularly active.
Patriot Front appears to be the most active in Texas, where it has three different local networks for members. On a February 11, 2018 voice call, members estimated that “Florida has 11 guys” but lamented that their group had little to no presence in Appalachia. The group also seems to have a small but established presence in New England states, such as Massachusetts and Vermont.
Vanguard America is a member of the Nationalist Front coalition, along with the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), the League of the South, and the National Socialist Movement (NSM). While Patriot Front is actively feuding with Nationalist Front groups such as TWP, they still maintain an informal relationship through their affiliation with figures like Richard Spencer. An operational document (PDF) from Spencer’s appearance in Gainesville last October lists Patriot Front among the primary groups involved in an alt-right security “task force” which also included members of League of the South.
While groups of young white men like Patriot Front are often used as a personal security force by alt-right VIPs such as Richard Spencer, Discord chats show some confusion and/or denial regarding this relationship. “We don’t do security at alt-right events”, Rousseau wrote on October 15, 2017. However, just two days later on October 17, another Patriot Front member wrote that “Thomas, Me, etc are all going” to Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida on October 19, adding “most” were attending “in a security capacity.”
Late Sunday night after the Freedom for the Marketplace of Ideas (FMI) alt-right conference this weekend in Detroit, members of Patriot Front posted about how they had been acting as armed security for the event. “PF chi had to run armed patrols at FMI,” wrote user ‘Smiter IL.’ “Shit was crazy, but everything is ok.”
The ‘Front and Center’ chat logs also reveal confusion and frustration among Patriot Front members after three men were arrested for shooting at antifascist protesters following Spencer’s Florida speech. William Fears, a Texas neo-Nazi arrested on October 17 along with his brother Colton Fears and his friend Tyler Tenbrink, has repeatedly associated with Patriot Front although he is not an official member. Writing about Fears and his two co-defendants now facing charges of attempted murder, Patriot Front Discord member ‘NDO Nick – TX’ wrote,
“We will not publicly disavow these guys. With that being said Will was told by multiple people including Cross and myself not to attend.” – Discord user ‘NDO Nick – TX’, October 20, 2017 8:41 PM
‘Nick’ also shared many images of himself and other white supremacists attending Spencer’s Gainesville event.
While Vanguard America takes an openly national socialist approach, Thomas Rousseau and Patriot Front seek to present the same ideology in a slightly more subtle and patriotic package. While centering the group’s rhetoric around “American identity,” Discord messages reveal that Patriot Front’s vision is of an exclusively white America in which non-whites are driven out or forced into subordinate roles.
“The American Identity belongs to a certain group of people,” Rousseau wrote in a chat on October 15, “and citizenship doesn’t change that.” On November 1st, he reiterated his “American fascist” approach to branding the group: “If anyone asks what we are, we’re Americans, and we’re fascists. In that order exactly.” In a text chat on November 8, another Discord user in the Front and Center server further explained the strategic value of using patriotic American aesthetics to promote fascism.
“Patriotic American Imagery: Something true Americans identify with, and plausible deniability for us when associated with Naziism, etc.” – Discord user ‘Racist Milk TX’, November 8, 2017, 7:57 PM
Rousseau, the group’s teenage leader, describes how his vision of an American ethnostate would inevitably involve the forced removal of all black people. “We’re incompatible… either they have to go, or they get to go, depending on how willing they are.”
Our anonymous source who reached out to us from inside Patriot Front said they represented “a group of concerned individuals” and told us why they decided to take steps to expose the group’s internal workings:
“We chose to obtain and pass on information about Patriot Front to ensure that anyone considering joining this group or others like it understands what type of organization they are committing to. This is a group that presents itself as a bulwark for the future of white people in public, while behind closed doors they speak openly of violent ethnic cleansing, the rape of white women, the forcible abortion of female people of color and death for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We have seen what those like them are capable of in Charlottesville and Orange County.”
The new logs from the ‘Front and Center’ server, as well as a few related smaller chat groups, show how Patriot Front has continued organizing into 2018. Along with most of the alt-right since Charlottesville, Patriot Front taken up the tactic of short, unannounced ‘flash demo’ protests, in which they assemble in public to chant, hold banners, and take photos for propaganda before quickly dispersing to avoid counter-protesters. They held a short protest carrying flares and banners at the University of Texas campus on November 3, 2017, before being surrounded by police and quickly leaving the area. This ‘flash demo’ was written up for the Daily Stormer by Robert ‘Azzmador’ Ray, who, while not a member of Patriot Front, generally acts as an ally and supporter. Other Patriot Front ‘flash demos’ have taken place in Austin, Texas and more recently in Burlington, Vermont, where members had to change locations at the last minute due to their plans allegedly being leaked to local antifascists.
Patriot Front also places a strong emphasis on aggressively placing racist flyers and posters in public places, with members sharing hundreds of pictures of their escapades. The #activism channel in Patriot Front’s Discord server shows hundreds of images of mass-flyering campaigns carried out by member’s distributing the group’s racist propaganda. Cells of Patriot Front activists were also encouraged to carry out banner drops in their area. “20 minutes of work and we trigger hundreds,” gloated ‘NDO Eric – TX’ after a banner reading “America is a white nation” was dropped from a library balcony at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX. While targets included government offices, churches, and synagogues, the overwhelming focus was on college campuses, with some Patriot Front members driving to several different campuses in one night to distribute hundreds of flyers.
In a Discord voice meeting on February 13, a Patriot Front member with the username ‘Himmler’ described how he had hacked into hundreds of printers on college campuses to print off anti-semitic flyers. The man claims to have remotely accessed 29,000 printers and describes his actions as undertaken in collaboration with ‘Weev’, aka Andrew Aurenheimer, convicted hacker and systems administrator for the Daily Stormer. ‘Himmler’ brags about causing “upwards of $20,000” in financial damage due to ink used in the printing. He named UMass and DePaul as schools he had personally targeted.
One user in the Patriot Front Discord server, ‘Machinesmiter-IL,’ bragged about how he was secretly using his founding position at the College Republicans chapter at Roosevelt University in Chicago to prime susceptible young white men to be receptive to fascist ideology. He boasted about putting up hundreds of flyers on his campus and the surrounding area, and how on November 4 he “hit Federal Plaza and the whole surrounding area hard… I probably got up at least 150-200 posters downtown.”
The Chicago-based Patriot Front member claimed in his fall 2017 Discord posts that he planned on leaving school for work in a few months but wanted to leave a racist legacy behind on Roosevelt campus. On November 8, Discord user ‘Machinesmiter-IL’ shared his progress in grooming Roosevelt College Republican members:
“My first College Republicans turnout was excellent. 10 white athletic males, a couple fashy haircuts, good discussion. This has awesome potential. They said they came, because of my Pepe flyer that I put up. Meme magick worked wonders for me in a 3 hour window. Pepe comes in clutch. We talked Introductory stuff, talked about demographics being destiny, how being a straight white male makes you an enemy, and are talking about our first event. We are going to try and get American Flags put up on campus.”
Conor Ryan, the president of the College Republicans chapter at Roosevelt University, was not available for comment as of this writing.
In our previous leak from Patriot Front, we found that one active member of the group was working as a prison guard for the Georgia Department of Corrections. In the newer server logs, members of Patriot Front have also claimed to be collaborating with law enforcement against antifascists. “We’re going to have an Antifa arrest soon,” wrote user ‘PaleHorse FL’ on October 2nd, “I’m talking to Detective Declan Hickey of Charlottesville.”
Patriot Front has also repeatedly engaged in disinformation campaigns in the aftermath of recent mass shootings. After the Las Vegas shooting last year, members were posting memes in Discord pushing the false conspiracy theory that shooter Stephen Paddock was tied to anti-racist groups. One image of the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting had an added caption which read “THE RADICAL LEFT AIMS TO EXTERMINATE WHITE CULTURE.” Immediately after the recent shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, Patriot Front members tried to paint shooter Nicholas Cruz, who had swastikas etched onto his ammunition, was an antifascist and a leftist. Users in the Front and Center Discord server also joined in online campaigns trying to slander surviving students as ‘crisis actors.’
Patriot Front is expected to keep pushing their antisemitic, neo-Nazi message into the public sphere as they continue organizing in 2018. As various alt-right factions distance themselves from each other as they continue infighting and blaming each other for their movement’s failures, different groups appear to be experimenting with different approaches.
Patriot Front prefers a traditionally American nationalist aesthetic in an attempt to reach ordinary white Americans, whereas more overtly national socialist groups such as the Traditionalist Worker Party openly advocate for breaking up the United States into forcibly separated race-based nations.
Regardless of their branding, groups like Patriot Front and are having to contend with repeated leaks of sensitive information from inside their own organizations and continue to meet opposition from antifascists.
As part of our in-depth reporting on white supremacist and far-right movements, Unicorn Riot has added the server logs from the Patriot Front servers to our public Discord Leaks platform. See links to specific servers below, along with .MP3 downloads of the full leaked audio recordings.
We contacted Discord and asked them about Patriot Front and other neo-nazi groups using their platform to organize. They provided us with the following statement:
Discord has a Terms of Service (ToS) and Community Guidelines that we ask all of our communities and users to adhere to. Though we do not read people’s private messages, we do investigate and take immediate appropriate action against any reported ToS violation by a server or user. We will continue to be aggressive to ensure that Discord exists for the community we set out to support – gamers.
As of Monday afternoon, Patriot Front’s Discord servers were still online. By Tuesday afternoon, the servers appeared to have been shut down by the company.
Click below to download .MP3s of leaked Patriot Front Discord audio:
- February 9, 2018: part 1 / part 2 / part 3
- February 11, 2018: part 1 / part 2 / part 3
- February 13, 2018
- February 14, 2018: part 1 / part 2
- February 15, 2018: part 1 / part 2
- February 22, 2018
- February 23, 2018: part 1 / part 2