As far-right protesters stormed the Oregon legislature yesterday, an Infowars host cheered them on and vilified police responding, saying that “a certain number of these officers, they've signed on to the Democrats, folks. They've signed over and they've become the new Nazis.”
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that the protesters, who were interrupting a special session to consider a COVID-19 relief bill, were calling on legislatures “to reopen the state economy and end the restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus,” and some had firearms and bear spray; it also reported that the contingent was organized by the violent far-right group Patriot Prayer, which has ties to white nationalism. Some of the protesters demanded the arrest of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, and there are clips of protesters apparently assaulting journalists:
While guest-hosting the December 21 broadcast of The Alex Jones Show, Infowars’ Owen Shroyer praised the protesters as heroic and railed at the police for trying to stop them, at various points claiming that violence was not only justified but required, suggesting the police were making themselves the target, and likening Democratic governance to Nazi Germany.
Shroyer’s rhetoric about the police specifically echoes a Proud Boys stream from last week following protests in Washington D.C., where Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio has confessed to burning a Black Lives Matter banner ripped from a historic Black church. On a livestream discussing the protests, members of the “gang” complained at length about police in the cities and at one point one of them warned that “if it comes down, me or you, like, it's going to be me.”
The Proud Boys is a far-right organization with links to white supremacist movements, including the violent “Unite the Right” white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 and 2018. Last year in New York City, two members of the Proud Boys were sentenced to four years in prison for an attack against counter-protesters outside a 2018 event at the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan. Tarrio himself has encouraged members to bring bear mace with them to demonstrations and boasted earlier this year about praise from Trump while hinting at violence. (Per a Daily Dot report, “Rufio Panman” is “best known for his appearance in Oregon-based, far-right group Patriot Prayer propaganda recruitment video in which he knocks out someone identified as anti-fascist. His real name is reportedly Ethan Nordean.")
In recent months, Shroyer, who has a long history of pushing conspiracy theories, has issued escalating calls for violence. Following President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election, Shroyer argued in November that Democrats and members of the mainstream media “deserve” to be the targets of mass violence if Trump is not allowed to have a second term. He added that he would be happy to broadcast the violence for Infowars. In August, Shroyer said that former President Barack Obama is guilty of treason and has “a rope destined for his neck.”