Crowd of Trump rioters outside the Capitol

Crowd of Trump supporters marching on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021
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Created: 6 January 2021

The storming of the Capitol by pro-Trump anti-democracy rioters is reported to have caught the local police off guard. Trump supporters have a long history of violence, more recently culminating with the breaking into statehouses in Michigan and Oregon as well as the Proud Boys march in D.C. that involved multiple stabbings.

The public threats made prior to the January 6 riot – Trump himself claiming that it “will be wild!” with many online suggesting people bring “handcuffs and zip ties”– led some of the media and public to question why it wasn’t taken seriously from the beginning. Research groups are now seeing the same kind of chatter online in reference to marches planned for this weekend and for Biden’s inauguration.

But local online Trump/QAnon groups are starting new conspiracies that the rallies are “ANTIFA traps,” warning Trump supporters not to show up to any Capitol until after the inauguration, creating more uncertainty about the coming days. 

The Washington Post reported January 9 that “second attacks” were being planned by Trump supporters in response to all major social media platforms banning Trump. They cited an Alethea Group report that found aggressive online chatter after Trump’s social media ban being planned for locations that include “the U.S. Capitol and the Mall in Washington, the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City, and locations in Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio. Some announcements, including an “Armed March on All State Capitols,” include localized events in all 50 states.”

The Intercept warned that white supremacist groups members if the “boogaloo boys,” an armed far-right movement that wishes to spark the next civil war which they call the “boogaloo,” are radicalizing new recruits in the messaging app Telegram ahead of Biden’s inauguration. Users are calling for killing law enforcement and even lashing out against Trump for his videos condemning the violence, claiming that he “betrays the white race again.”

States across the country are calling in the National Guard, boarding up Statehouses, and rightly preparing for the worst. Governor DeWine called in the National Guard and closed the Statehouse with surrounding buildings following suit.

While many Trump supporters have tried to emphasize Trump’s condemnation of the violence – at the same time coming up with new conspiracy theories to justify it (Ohio GOP Rep. Kris Jordan claimed that the rioters who stormed the capitol were actually “plants”) – Trump’s videos don’t appear to have the same impact for others in his base calling for an “ARMED MARCH ON CAPITOL HILL & ALL STATE CAPITOLS.” 

As Trump is now impeached by the House for a second time and banned from all social media platforms other than YouTube, it might be too late to stop any continued domestic terrorism being planned by his supporters.

Research into online Trump circles – what’s left on Facebook and one last social media site to allow QAnon theories – shows that supporters are posting warnings to not go to any rallies or marches; that these rallies are actually just conspiracies by the “mainstream media (MSM)” and “ANTIFA” to make Trump look bad. 

The “Trump Club of Columbus and Central Ohio” Facebook pageis run by Joseph Healy, a member of the Franklin County Republican Party’s Central Committee. After Trump’s first video condemning the violence, Healey posted it with the caption “Trump has NOT CONCEDED! Bring in the Army! Save the Republic!” He’s also called for the impeachment of DeWine for COVID lockdowns, but between cringe-worthy pro-Trump memes and conspiracy theories are the calls for Trump supporters to stay home the weekend and during the inauguration. One post proclaimed, “No protest at State Capitol this weekend stay home!” 

The Facebook page “Ohio for Donald Trump 2020” posted a Twitter video from Glenn Beck dismissing the armed rallies with the caption claiming “Democrats planned Antifa to do this so they can blame it on us and follow through with their plan of attacking the 2nd amendment. DO NOT ATTEND any armed protests. You will be responsible for the loss of our Second Amendment right if you riot. We must stay peaceful.#staypeaceful#donotattend.”

Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell what is real or what Trump supporters take seriously. While Columbus braces for the worst based on the information gathered from federal intelligence agencies, it’s unclear whether this will translate locally without any public coordination online from Trump supporters. With so many inventing new conspiracies that the rallies are “traps,” it begs the question: can conspiracies be used for good against potential domestic terrorists and will it be successful in cancelling any plans to storm Ohio’s Statehouse?