Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has a frightening tale:
The details are still sketchy. Marshall is promising to do a follow up as more comes in, but here’s what he has so far on what happened when a biracial family in a school bus tried to go camping:
…anti-Antifa hysteria led members of one community in Washington state to go full feral and create a harrowing Deliverance type situation for a multi-racial family from Spokane who was looking to go camping. While stopping off to purchase camping supplies at Forks Outfitters in Forks, Washington, the family was confronted by “seven or eight carloads” of people demanding to know if they were with Antifa. This appears to have been in response to widespread rumors fanned in right wing media that “antifa” was sending formations into suburbs to loot subdivisions and rural homes.
The family decided to leave; they were trailed by 4 cars with passengers reportedly carrying automatic weapons in two of them. They were able to find a camping spot for the night, although when they heard chain saws and shooting in the distance, they decided to leave. They found the only road out had been blocked by trees that had been cut down.
Local high school students with chain saws were able to remove the trees; the Clallam County sheriff’s office has opened a criminal investigation after interviewing the family.
Marshall reports Facebook posts were lit up with news of the ‘successful resistance’ to the ‘invasion’.
The Antifa hysteria is being fed directly from the highest levels of the Trump administration. Rightwing threats like the Boogaloo Bois are not even getting name-checked. US News & World Report has a short article on the Washington incident, but it’s a bigger story. An AP News report from June 2, 2020 has details on what is apparently a widespread problem:
CHICAGO (AP) — In the days since President Donald Trump blamed antifa activists for an eruption of violence at protests over police killings of black people, social media has lit up with false rumors that the far-left-leaning group is transporting people to wreak havoc on small cities across America.
The speculation was being raised by conservative news outlets and pro-Trump social media accounts, as well as impostor Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Twitter and Facebook busted some of the instigators behind the unsubstantiated social media chatter. Twitter determined Monday that a tweet promising antifa would “move into residential areas” and “white” neighborhoods was sent by the white supremacy group Identity Evropa. The tweet was shared hundreds of times and cited in online news articles before Twitter removed it Monday, a company spokesperson said.
Yet the tweet continued to circulate Tuesday on Facebook and Instagram.
The AP article by Amanda Seitz cites a number of incidents around the country, including warnings that Antifa groups are roaming the country by the busload. (The family in Forks was driving a converted school bus, which is probably why they were initially targeted.)
This is pretty clearly an attempt to delegitimize the nation-wide protests and create a false narrative. It’s divisive and destabilizing at a time when the country is already under severe stress from the pandemic and economic collapse. Donald Trump and the right wing are doing their best to turn the country into an authoritarian state.
If Trump wants to declare a state of emergency and call out troops to block the election, or claim it was rigged, this is one of the ways the groundwork is being laid.
UPDATE: Kate Riga at TPM has a follow up with more.
…Seth Larson, the owner of the local “firearm and survival store” Fred’s Guns, posted heavily about a Black Lives Matter protest planned for Wednesday afternoon in town.
“For all of you uninformed for what may go down here in Sequim, you may want to show your face to make sure this is a peaceful demonstration and to declare ALL LIVES MATTER,” he wrote alongside the link to the protest.
…Based on a series of mea culpa videos, it seems that Larson raised the call for locals to come out and protect the town from antifa infiltrators based on “intel” he had received.
“I was told protesters were here, I was told antifas here are gonna trash the town,” he said in one such video. “I had all this intel.”
Update: Something from NBC News: www.nbcnews.com/…
“In any event like this with this much exposure, there is lots of information floating around out there on social media,” Burns told The Argus Leader newspaper. “Some of it has some truth to it, and some of it is just a false flag. It appears at this time that that’s what that was.”
Similar claims are sweeping social media in rural areas throughout the country, according to Matt Hildreth, the executive director RuralOrganizing.org, a national progressive nonprofit.
Hildreth said his national network of rural community leaders “are being overwhelmed” by claims from social media about out-of-towners’ riding in on buses to infiltrate local protests.
“Misinformation campaigns are specifically targeting these communities,” Hildreth said. “It seems to be specifically attempting to stoke fear and paranoia, especially in response to what we’re seeing in Minneapolis.”