Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars outlet have been hyping the prospect of violence in Virginia, particularly at an upcoming pro-gun rally, as the commonwealth considers passing stronger gun laws.
Jones and his associates are also preemptively claiming that any violence that does occur at the rally, planned for January 20 outside the Virginia Capitol, will be a “false flag,” a similar claim to what he’s said about violence that occurred at the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
Jones said that he and “dozens of our people” will be at the January 20 rally, and he has invited white nationalist Richard Spencer to join him. One of Jones’ other rally invitees, conspiracy theorist Matt Bracken, has made frequent appearances on Jones’ outlet Infowars to espouse violent rhetoric while discussing Virginia’s gun laws and has even showed people how to best equip their assault weapons for battle.
Virginia is poised to change its gun laws, and a large pro-gun contingent is expected to rally in Richmond on January 20
After gaining control of the Virginia legislature in the 2019 elections, Democratic lawmakers started their 2020 session by advancing several bills to strengthen Virginia’s gun laws, including requiring background checks on all gun sales and limiting handgun purchases to one per month. (Another bill that proposed to ban assault weapons was killed in committee on January 13.)
As the legislature works on Virginia’s gun laws, an annual “lobby day” held on Capitol grounds each Martin Luther King Jr. Day is approaching. Lobby day, which falls on January 20 this year, typically draws both those seeking to strengthen gun laws and those who want to loosen them, and this year the event is expected to bring in greater numbers. The pro-gun contingent often comes armed -- it is generally legal to openly carry handguns and assault weapons in public in Virginia -- and is organized by extremist gun group Virginia Citizens Defense League, which has previously suggested that violence was possible if it couldn’t get its agenda passed through legislative means. Because of the potential significant changes to Virginia’s gun laws, this year’s rally is expected to bring thousands of pro-gun activists to the Capitol grounds.
Amid concerns about violence at the event, Virginia law enforcement is reportedly closely monitoring the lead-up to the rally and will have increased security measures, according to The Washington Post. On January 14, The Associated Press reported that in response to threats from pro-gun activists, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) will declare a temporary emergency to ban people from carrying guns on the Capitol grounds during the event.
Alex Jones and his Infowars associates are pre-emptively labeling any violence in Virginia a “false flag”
Jones is preemptively labeling any violence that happens at the rally or otherwise in Virginia a false flag, drawing parallels to the deadly August 2017 Unite the Right protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, that he has claimed was staged. Jones claimed that the person who drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist counterprotesters at the event -- neo-Nazi James Fields -- was actually an “Obama supporter.” (Jones is currently being sued for defamation after suggesting a counterprotester who filmed the attack was involved in it as part of the “deep state.”) Jones has frequently claimed that “false flags” or leftist attacks would spur civil war, race war, and other mass conflict, and he has repeatedly indicated his willingness to take up arms if such a conflict were to occur.
During his January 2 broadcast, Jones compared the situation in Virginia around the January 20 rally to what happened in “Charlottesville, Virginia, a few years ago,” where he said “a bunch of leftists dressed up like white supremacists had their own rallies, got real white supremacists, nationalists, but also just traditionalists to show up and a lot of press” and then “antifa came in and attacked, funded by [George] Soros.” (The claim that Soros funded the Charlottesville event is another conspiracy theory.) He said it’s “the oldest trick in the book.”
During the segment, Jones repeated the white nationalist conspiracy theory that counterprotester Heather Heyer, who was killed in the car attack, actually died of a heart attack. In fact, Heyer actually died of blunt force trauma.
Jones said, “You only had one woman, who it turned out had a heart attack, very sad, in Charlottesville -- that turned into a mass murder that white supremacists carried out and Trump was behind it. If we get real conflict in Virginia, they’re going to activate their antifa squads, their terrorists, and really try to get the country burning down to drive Trump from power.”
Jones also mentioned billionaire financier George Soros in his December 18 broadcast, claiming that “Soros documents” show that Virginia Democrats want to “trigger a race war or a civil war, and they want to do it with gun confiscation.” Jones has peppered his broadcasts with false and inflammatory claims about the gun safety bills themselves, in one case saying Virginia gun owners have been told they will be killed if they don’t turn in their guns.
Jones says he will attend the rally himself and is imploring other extremists to join him
Jones has also expressed his intention to attend the rally himself. In a January 8 broadcast, he said he would travel to Virginia on January 18 “peacefully” and stay “for four or five days” to “survey what’s happening” because “we’ve had two revolutionary wars basically start in Virginia, and it looks like one may start again.”
In December, Jones claimed that Infowars “will have dozens of our people in Virginia on the 20th to stop the deep state from pulling” off a false flag event and said that he wanted to “work with Stewart Rhodes” of the far-right extremist Oath Keepers organization.
Speaking vaguely about people on the left who Jones claims will orchestrate an incident at the rally, he said that he and his cohorts will expose “the fake white supremacist windup toys that they admittedly had hired” during the event. (In Jones’ conspiracy theory parlance, a “windup” is a person recruited to carry out a false flag attack.)
Jones hosted white nationalist Richard Spencer -- who helped organize the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally -- on his January 13 broadcast and invited him to be interviewed in Virginia during Jones’ visit. Spencer said, “I might come down if you’re there, sure.” Jones then said of Spencer, “Compared to the left right now, you’re like an anti-racist.”
Infowars broadcasts have been rife with violent rhetoric about gun laws in Virginia
Infowars has been a platform for violent rhetoric about both the rally and Virginia’s move to change gun laws generally. While guest-hosting Jones’ show on December 12, Infowars associate Matt Bracken hyped the January 20 rally, saying that “there’s going to be a massive rally in Richmond at the Virginia Assembly of gun owners.”
Moments later, Bracken displayed an assault weapon on-air and told viewers how to accessorize it for battle proficiency. Bracken suggested removing any accessories that reduce mobility, using a laser sight that can be zeroed “in the field,” equipping the gun with high-capacity magazines in so-called “jungle style” to increase reload speed, and using a powerful optic so he can make “those 500-yard resting shots and those 300-yard offhand shots.”
Bracken said the “point” of his demonstration was to warn that “if these tyrants want to go for it … by passing laws that go directly against the Bill of Rights,” “there’s going to be a fight” and “never in history ever has there been a civil war where half of the people had deer rifles that could make 500-yard shots.”
Later during the segment, Bracken mentioned the January 20 rally again, saying, “You think something big happened in Charlottesville? Imagine, you know, thousands or tens of thousands of Virginians making a refusal to register their weapons.” Bracken concluded, “It’s going to be pretty serious,” before going on to predict false flag attacks in Virginia that will frame Trump supporters.
Bracken is one of the individuals Jones asked to join him in Virginia. While appearing on Jones’ broadcast on December 22, Bracken told Jones that U.S. special operations forces are poised to carry out false flag attacks in Virginia and again pushed the prospect of Virginians killing law enforcement members who enforce gun laws.
During the December 20 broadcast of Infowars show War Room, host Owen Shroyer and far-right conspiracy theorist Mike Adams, his guest, discussed a conspiratorial claim that there will be checkpoints on roads in Virginia where guns will be confiscated by law enforcement. After Adams suggested that “some group of patriots” might open fire on the hypothetical checkpoints, Shroyer argued that if such an incident happened, it would be a false flag conducted by the CIA, MI6, Mossad, or China. When Adams reiterated his prediction that “actual Trump supporters” would open fire on such a checkpoint, Shroyer said that even that would be “another false narrative” because the checkpoints would be “totally illegal.”