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tv   Frontline  PBS  January 4, 2022 10:00pm-11:31pm PST

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♪♪ ♪♪ >> (crowd chanting) who's our president! trump's our president! fight for trump! >> narrator: a year after the attack on the capitol... >> the january 6th committee issuing a new round of subpoenas... >> finding bannon in contempt of congress... >> mark meadows in contempt of congress... >> mr. meadows is improperly asserting executive and other privileges... >> the people that were there on january 6th said donald trump sent us. and they believed the election was stolen. >> narrator: correspondent a.c. thompson investigates how violent militia groups have become part of the political landscape. >> we definitely are the modern militia. we're the ones crazy enough to actually do something. >> narrator: and examines where the moment may be heading...
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>> many months have passed now, and we're starting to see organizing again in very dangerous ways. >> so, the movement lives on. >> it does live on. >> narrator: now on frontline, in collaboration with propublica and uc berkeley's investigative reporting program -- "american insurrection." >> i would hope for the sake of this democracy, this never happens again in the united states of america. >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. additional support is provided by the abrams foundation, committed to excellence in journalism... the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more at park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler.
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support for “american insurrection” is provided by the wnet group's “exploring hate” initiative, with prinicipal support by the following: and additional major funding from: with additional support from: >> a.c. thompson: january 7, 2021. washington's streets are quiet, tense. soldiers stand watch around the perimeter of the u.s. capitol. inside, the halls are deserted. new members of congress should be settling into their offices. but instead, furniture is stacked in doorways.
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it's hard to believe that just yesterday, these halls were flooded with pro-trump rioters and that today, four people are dead. this is how the trump presidency ends. it's shocking. yet there had also been warning signs. i wonder, what form will these violent energies take now? to find an answer, i feel like i have to go back to the beginning. ♪ ♪ if the trump presidency ended with an insurrection at the capitol, for me, it began here, in charlottesville, virginia, waiting on a darkened campus for the torches to arrive. >> (chanting): you will not replace us! you will not replace us! >> thompson: i'd been reporting on the rise in hate crimes and america's resurgent white
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supremacist movement. and that led me here. >> you will not replace us! you will not replace us! >> thompson: the rally was called "unite the right." white supremacists out in the open, unafraid, and soon violent. (indistinct chatter) the next morning, i followed a group of clergy to the rally. the white supremacists were returning. and counter-protesters were arriving to challenge them. >> no hate, no fear! white supremacists not welcome here! >> thompson: the white supremacists came prepared to fight, bringing guns and knives and bats and shields. they attacked people who tried to block their path, leaving them bloodied on the pavement. the violence kept escalating while the police looked on. just want to let you know there's been all kinds of crazy violence over here. pepper spray, people beating
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each other with sticks. we're trying to figure out if the police are going to intervene to stop that or if it's just going to keep going on. >> well, we've all got different assignments to try to maintain some sort of order here. so that's what we're focusing on right now. >> thompson: alongside the neo-nazis and white nationalists were militias and members of a group we would all come to know, the proud boys. its current leader was there that day. (shouting) i had never seen white supremacists gather in such large numbers. (shouting) but looking back now, charlottesville feels almost like a prelude of what was to come. anger. hatred. bloodshed. (screaming) a neo-nazi, james alex fields, slammed his car into the crowd, injuring dozens and killing
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32-year-old heather heyer. >> i always wondered, was she afraid? (sighs) did she see him coming? dear god, i would love to have my daughter back. >> thompson: for you, what does justice for heather look like? >> i don't know. nothing's gonna bring heather back. those of us who miss her, miss her... forever. >> thompson: james alex fields is the person who's been prosecuted for heather's murder. in your mind, is he the only person who should be held accountable? >> no, for people from 35 states to come in to fight, that's absolutely absurd. >> you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were... very fine people, on both sides. >> thompson: at the time, trump
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had only been president for seven months but his response set the tone for the next three years. and many on the far right took his words as a sign of support. >> wait a minute, i'm not finished. i'm not finished, fake news. that was a horrible day. i watched those very closely-- much more closely than you people watched it. and you have-- you had a group on one side that was bad. and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. and nobody wants to say that, but i'll say it right now. (rain pattering) >> thompson: james fields was eventually sentenced to life in prison. but in the immediate aftermath of charlottesville, only a handful of others were arrested. i kept asking law enforcement what was going on. i got your message saying that basically we should look at the facebook and twitter posts you put out, but we have questions that go beyond that. had everyone else just blended back into society?
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like i said, i'm just trying to figure out how many, how many folks have been prosecuted, and how many cases might still be in the pipeline. so, we began trying to locate the people ourselves. ♪ ♪ >> there were a couple of guys in these few shots that we weren't able to idenfy. i wonderho he is. 'cause he looks like he's part of ram. >> thompson: oh yeah, he's definitely a ram person. over the next year, we tracked down some of the most violent individuals in charlottesville. look, he's got his right hand taped up. >> yeah. >> thompson: and then the, definitely the guy in charlottesville has at least one hand taped up. >> right hand. >> thompson: i wonder if his left hand is as well. my colleagues and i matched our footage with images from far-right rallies across the country, we gained access to encrypted chat logs, and developed sources inside extremist networks. our reporting led us to groups that had been in charlottesville, including the rise above movement-- or ram-- a white power fight club. hey, mike how you doing?
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they had also been linked to multiple attacks in california. i wanted to talk to you about what you were doing in charlottesville last year. >> uh, sorry i don't know anything about that, man. >> thompson: but you were there, you're on camera, you're on photos. >> no, i, i think you got the wrong guy. >> thompson: hey, do northrup and u.c.l.a. know you're involved with the rise above movement? >> gotta go, man. >> thompson: michael miselis was a ram member we'd seen punching a protestor in the face in charlottesville. but miselis was more than just a street fighter-- he had a government security clearance, and worked for the defense contractor northrup grumman. as we looked further, we found other white supremacists and neo-nazis with ties to the military, some of them on active duty. it was a problem that would continue to grow in the coming years, despite calls to root it out. >> the president has to be very clear about the unacceptability of these-- any extremists,
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including these white supremacist extremists acquiring the best military training in the world. >> thompson: keith ellison, then a congressman from minnesota, had seen our reporting and wrote to the pentagon demanding it take action. >> since we wrote that letter, we have been in verbal contact with the military that they're responding to our letter, we expect to have it soon, but we have not yet seen it. >> thompson: we've identified seven members of one neo-nazi group who are current or former military. what do you make of that? >> well, i think that they have decided this is a strategic initiative for them. they, they want their people to go into the military. there's a real legitimate fear here, and i think that we've got to be vigilant about it. >> thompson: the d.o.d. eventually told ellison it had investigated the people we'd ided, and had fired or disciplined 18 service members. >> i think one thing we can do is to shine a light on this, because when we get some light on it, then somebody somewhere is going to say, okay, this needs to become a priority.
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and so that's what we're going to do. ♪ ♪ >> thompson: a year after charlottesville, the spotlight was on. >> we are here today to announce the arrest of four members of the militant white supremacist group known as the rise above movement. >> thompson: the fbi arrested more people who'd been at unite the right, including michael miselis, who lost his job at northrop grumman and spent about a year in prison. it felt like our reporting had helped to expose some of the most dangerous figures in the white supremacist scene. i began receiving death threats even as the groups splintered, changed their names, and were hit with lawsuits. but one group did continue to take to the streets-- participating in rallies in portland, oregon-- the proud boys. >> (chanting): usa! usa! usa! >> thompson: they had black and latino members, and wanted to distance themselves from the
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white supremacist movement. they seemed mostly interested in drinking, fighting, and supporting trump. >> (chanting): usa! usa! >> thompson: so what's your deal, man, why-- why are you here? >> i'm here to stand up for freedom. >> thompson: they faced off against members of antifa. >> they've got one ideology over there, and these guys have a freedom-loving ideology. >> thompson: what do you think the ideology is over there? >> it's communism. >> thompson: they claimed they were defending the u.s. from some sort of communist takeover and they wore shirts celebrating pinochet, the chilean fascist dictator. tell me about your t-shirt. what's with-- what are you saying here? >> it says what it says. >> thompson: what do you mean by that? you're down for fascism is that, is that what you're saying? some wore patches that said rwds-- right wing death squad. fights broke out sporadically. but that march in portland would be the last i'd see of the proud boys for a while.
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i was drawn away to other stories. >> (over radio): we're under fire, we're under fire, he's got an automatic weapon, he's firing out of the front of... >> thompson: there was the attack on the tree of life synagogue in october 2018 that left 11 jewish worshippers dead. >> 7-1, suspect's talking about... >> thompson: and in august 2019 a gunman who'd ranted about a hispanic invasion opened fire in an el paso walmart, killing 23 people. horrific hate crimes, carried out not by extremist groups, but by individuals. but then, in january 2020, something different caught my eye. (distant cheers) a rally in richmond, virginia. 22,000 people turned out to protest the state's new gun laws. many of them were mainstream conservatives, but among the crowd were also militia members, white supremacists, and proud
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boys. i wondered if the energies from charlottesville were gathering again. >> (chanting): drain the swamp! ♪ ♪ >> thompson: the rally had been organized on facebook and i found someone who monitors right wing groups on social media. >> i'm a computer scientist, my background's in data mining and data science, so that means using, you know, facts and figures, names, dates, photos, dollar amounts, just all that good stuff, and then we look for patterns in that data. >> thompson: megan squire tracked the decline of far-right groups after charlottesville. >> charlottesville was incredibly disruptive to these groups. it started everything from infighting amongst themselves, all the arrests that happened afterwards, and then the lawsuits were just absolutely devastating for these groups. >> thompson: but not every group suffered from the backlash. some, like the proud boys, survived and grew. >> there were some that, that escaped unscathed.
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they evaded, um, really responsibility and scrutiny after unite the right and then, you know, came up to rear their ugly heads much later. >> thompson: examining 8,000 facebook accounts affiliated with the proud boys, squire found that many proud boys also belonged to white supremacist or fascist groups. in squire's research, one individual stands out-- brien james, the leader of the indiana chapter of the proud boys. brien's in this group and this is, like, the most hardcore white supremacist that you're gonna find out there. >> yeah. >> thompson: we've got the national socialist movement represented here. we've got, um... pro-hitler groups. we've got all kinds of real crazy stuff. >> this is a anti-muslim group. here's an anti-immigrant group. >> thompson: brien james was a key node in squire's map of the proud boys. he's been involved with some of the most extreme movements of the last three decades--
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the klan, an anti-government militia, and a neo-nazi gang called the outlaw hammerskins. in 2003 he became the leader of his own gang called the vinlanders social club. i pull court records in indiana. i don't find any cases for james, but members of his gang have been convicted in a string of beatings and homicides. i'm surprised and a little nervous when he agrees to meet me, and talk openly about his past as a skinhead leader. >> i was kind of a dictator there and i had a much smaller network of people, but there was no state in the united states i could travel to where i didn't have a place to stay, there was no shortage of... you know, women involved in it, you know, we had... it was guys who would kill for you in a second. so there-- you know, i never got caught or... i was arrested and charged with some pretty bad things in my life, but i got a lawyer and beat all the cases. >> thompson: james claims he
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left the white power movement behind years ago. >> there was a point in my life where like, if i met you, i would need to know what race you are, you're dark enough, i would need to know. you know, i would obviously-- he's not white, and that would have an impact on how i viewed him. >> thompson: i've met people who've left the white supremacist movement before. most of them go out of their way to express remorse for the people they've harmed, the things that they've done. i don't hear a lot of that from james. >> i haven't flipped over to the left, i haven't gotten-- it's not like i've changed, it's just that doesn't matter. it certainly doesn't matter as much as other things. ideology is the primary motivating factor to me and whether or not the country is going to turn out okay or not. >> thompson: but james was there in charlottesville at unite the right, marching alongside nazis and white nationalists. i ask him why, as a man who had supposedly abandoned the white power movement, he was so willing to work with avowed racists. >> i think most people look back on charlottesville as a mistake, and i do, i mean, we certainly didn't need those guys, we
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certainly didn't gain anything from working with those guys, especially after i had left. i thought we were doing something positive, and obviously that day turned out to be a horrible disaster and the impact of people who was there, was pretty severe after it was over, so i thought all right. >> thompson: people went to prison, people left the movement. >> people lost their jobs, people were de-platformed off of the public forum, people were financially de-platformed. >> thompson: james doesn't mention the killing of heather heyer or the people murdered by his former gang. but he does spend a lot of time talking about the threats he on the left. >> people see the left is taking over and moving society in a certain direction. so, we're just the ones that are the tip of the spear out standing up for that physically. >> thompson: james tells me that by focusing on political enemies instead of racial ones, he'd gained more support. >> i mean, i've been doing what i'm doing here for 30 years, and there's normally five, ten guys in the city, maybe 20 in the state. i have 200 right now. >> thompson: wow.
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>> yeah. >> thompson: he'd also found a powerful new ally in trump. >> well, you've got a guy who's a nationalist in the most powerful seat in the world. i mean, we've got a guy who's, you know, at least 75%, 80%, 90% on our side, and he's the president, there's no reason at that point to be... an extremist. >> thompson: you've been involved in right-wing movements for decades now, what was the time period that you found yourself having the most hope for real change? >> now. >> thompson: now? >> yeah. ♪ ♪ >> thompson: after my conversation with brien james, i check in with a longtime source of mine, pete simi. simi helped me understand ram and the other groups in charlottesville, and he's continued to track the white supremacist movement. i just interviewed a guy named brien james. have you ever come across this guy? >> oh sure, yeah, he was, especially during his time as the vinlander, he was a big name on the radar and, you
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know, really associated with a lot of violence. the vinlander, the vinlanders in general were known to be a very volatile, violent group that, you know, they had a guy whose nickname was "the butcher," and so, i mean this is... >> thompson: this is the guy with "murder" tattooed on his throat? >> yeah, right, right. so, i mean, there was a number of very violent incidents they were involved in. >> thompson: simi says that while the proud boys may have worked hard to push into the mainstream, many still subscribe to extremist beliefs. >> so, this is, you know, a t-shirt in reference to the mass slaughter of jewish people during the holocaust, that stands for "six million wasn't enough." their view is not to deny the holocaust, but to say the holocaust didn't go far enough. >> thompson: and so, he's flying proud boys' colors, and these clearly neo-nazi ideas here. you know, we get fixated on all these different groups out there, and in, from my perspective, i think it's more helpful to think about this as a broad worldview. >> thompson: the proud boys are led by enrique tarrio, he's
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this guy who is a cuban american, man of color. >> mm-hmm. >> thompson: what's going on with that do you think? >> if you look at, for instance, the history of the racist skinhead movement in the united states, any number of different racist skinhead crews across the country, they wouldn't be exclusively white necessarily. you have, you know, the capacity for people of-of various different backgrounds to embrace fascism as an ideology, as a worldview, and-and i think in many respects that's what we're dealing with here is a broad fascist movement. (waves splashing) >> i will fight to protect you. i am your president of law and order... >> thompson: in the summer of 2020, i watched as president trump rallied that movement, in response to the protests after the killing of george floyd. >> our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists,
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looters, criminals, rioters,her. >> thompson: the proud boys heard president trump's rhetoric as a call to action. they joined other right-wing vigilantes in attacking the protestors. (panicked shouting) the unrest had become a focal point of trump's re-election campaign. >> if biden gets in, they will have won, they will have taken over your cities. these are not acts of peaceful protests, but really domestic terror. >> thompson: one incident in particular would be blamed on antifa and become a target of the president's rage-- a drive-by shooting in may at the oakland federal building. >> a federal officer in california was shot and killed. the destruction of innocent life, and the spilling of innocent blood is an offense to humanity. >> if you don't think that we have been under attack from domestic terrorists, let me show you a picture of one victim. this is patrick underwood. >> thompson: the shooting was nothing like the street violence i'd been seeing, and i started looking into it.
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i went to see officer underwood's sister. >> literally, as i think about him, i think about him lying on the concrete... shot and alone. and the concrete is cold. i... it's, it's, it's been horrific for us. and at the same time it feels like we're constantly, you know, reliving it over and over again. so there's, uh, it's hard to say that we've had closure because we haven't. >> thompson: mm-hmm. >> and, uh, and actually, i don't know if we ever will. that's the tough part. >> thompson: how did you get the news? >> i received a phone call at approximately, maybe 4:00, 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. his fiancée stacy said, "angela, pat's been shot. pat's been shot." and, um, after that, i'm not
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quite sure what happened. 'cause i don'tnow... i-i can't remember if the screaming was, was from me or if it was from her. and it was just a bit hazy, a bit foggy, because you go completely to a state of denial. "are you sure? it can't be, what do you mean?" you go through all of those things trying to find some type of logic in an illogical situation. >> thompson: i see photos from the night of the attack. security cameras tracked a white van moving through the darkened streets of oakland. the door slid open and a gunman opened fire on a guard post in front of the federal building. but the man arrested by law enforcement didn't end up being antifa. his name was steven carrillo, a 32-year-old air force staff sergeant. he represented a new and deadly wave of far-right violence.
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>> in the surveillance footage, what you can see is the side of the van door just starts slowly opening up and by the middle of the intersection, the shots begin to fire-- he's on the side of the van. >> thompson: okay. >> facing this way, shooting at the guard post. >> thompson: kathryn hurd is part of a team at the u.c. berkeley investigative reporting program. we've been working with them on this story. wow, still bullet holes here. >> yeah, so as you can see, there's still remains on the... >> thompson: looks like there's three. >> yeah, there's actually one right here as well, but if you actually look on the wall back there, there are more bullet marks. >> thompson: what was the kind of weapon that he was using? >> it's fully automatic, uh, and as you can see from the bullet remains that are both on this guard post and slightly behind it on the wall, that thing got off at least ten rounds. >> thompson: and it was a ghost gun, right? >> it was a ghost gun, it was unmarked, it... >> thompson: so no serial number? >> no serial number, which suggests that it was privately assembled. >> thompson: meaning he put it together or somebody put it together for him? >> somebody put it together for him, or from the fbi complaints, but it sounds like is that he was building his own weapons. >> thompson: you've got a generic white ford van, no license plate, a gun that
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doesn't have serial numbers on it with a real common caliber bullet, nine millimeter, and basically it is a mystery at that point with not a lot of clues. >> exactly-- i mean, people just don't have anytng to go off of, they took off into the night down the street and no one was able to catch them. >> thompson: the gunmen disappeared and the trail went cold for a week. then here, in the woods of santa cruz county, some 80 miles away, a worker made a startling discovery. >> he was setting some game cameras up in the forest, and came across this van. and he looked in it, and reported that it had some bomb-making equipment. there was no license plate on the van, but there was a vin number. and it came back to the carrillo residence. >> thompson: sheriff jim hart says his deputies along with highway patrol went to carrillo's house, up this winding mountain road. >> these are very, uh, remote isolated areas, the topographies were very steep. sergeant gutzwiller and alex
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spencer get to the house. when they did, they're down on the roadway below the house, when the shot was fired. carrillo was putting a lot of rounds down stream, and he was maybe 40 feet away, from a position of cover. our people couldn't even see where he was at. then alex spencer stood up and spun to engage, up the hillside, and alex got shot. and then, a few seconds after that, a pipe bomb exploded near him, and he was hit with some shrapnel from that as well. they then engaged him in a gun fight. officer estey was shot in the hand. they were able to put a round into carrillo's abdomen, and then carrillo fled down a hillside. i think he was intent on shooting police that day, so i, i think he was gonna come to the command post. ♪ ♪ >> thompson: after fatally shooting sergeant damon gutzwiller, law enforcement says that carrillo escaped in a
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stolen car. he later abandoned the vehicle and continued on foot. >> all of a sudden i hear some cries for help. >> help, help! >> thompson: clara ricabal arrived on the scene by chance and began filming with her cellphone. >> he had blood on his leg and so, i mean, i knew that was the guy that they were looking for. >> thompson: she saw a local resident, a man she calls "the hero" wrestle carrillo to the ground. >> it's the guy! >> how do you know? (indistinct talking) pipe bomb, there's a (no audio) gun, pistol right there, holy... >> you want me to holdour dog? >> no stay back, there's a gun right there by your feet. >> oh! >> thompson: the hero grabbed him, took him to the ground. >> mm-hmm, and the gun flew. >> thompson: the rifle flies off at that point. >> uh-huh, and then he reaches in, i think, his chest area and he grabs a pipe bomb. and then the hero knocks that out like chuck norris... (chuckles) and it flies and then when he grabbed the pistol, i believe it was in his boot, and, then when he held it to his head, that's when...
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>> thompson: so carrillo had the gun to the hero's head. >> mm-hmm. >> thompson: wow. >> please, you guys! >> hey, we are holding him on the ground right here. >> there's a gun, please! he's gonna get up, there's only two people holding him down! he's on the ground... and the machine gun or the rifle, whatever, is right over here. >> two guns and a pipe bomb. (indistinct talking) >> oh my god, i'm choking. you can see the pipe bomb over here, it had landed on a step. and i guess the pistol was over here. >> thompson: when it was all over, steven carrillo had allegedly killed two officers and seriously injured two others. but why? >> (on phone): the police are the guard dogs, you know, ready to attack whenever the owner says, "hey, you know, sic 'em, boy." >> the first interview with steven carrillo was 20 minutes
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long, and that second one lasted for an hour-and-a-half. >> thompson: so you've spoken to him for almost two hours. >> yeah. >> thompson: gisela perez de acha is one of our reporting partners at u.c. berkeley. carrillo spoke to her from jail, where he is awaiting trial. she is the only journalist to have interviewed him. >> (on phone): the police is, it's the government's strong arm, basically. >> thompson: before he was captured, carrillo wrote messages in his own blood, including a single word that would be the key to all the chaos: boog. >> (on phone): what the boogaloo is, is a revolution, revolutionary thought... >> thompson: carrillo told perez de acha that he was part of a movement called the boogaloo bois. >> (on phone): the boogaloo movement? it's about people that love freedom, liberty, and they're unhappy with the level of control that the government takes over our lives.
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being free to do what you want as long as you don't hurt anyone else. >> aren't you accused of hurting someone? >> oh, that's, you know, that's what i'm accused of. but, uh, yeah so, back to the example... that's what i wanted to get to, you know, the freedom of choice, the freedom of expression. >> thompson: carrillo has pleaded not guilty and he wouldn't answer questions about the shootings. did you find it hard to get him to actually... >> it was so hard, it was so hard-- he would just deny and skirt every question. how did you come to this? how did you... because you said you didn't read a lot before. >> (on phone): basically, uh, through... friends, friends, you know, the air force. once i joined the air force, you know, i traveled around the world, i met people from all over the world. and just talking to people changed my whole views.
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>> thompson: so do you think that he's saying that he found these radicaideas in the military? >> yeah, i think, mainly from my conversations with him, i think he's definite-- definitely radicalized at the air force. >> (on phone): i love my country. there's not a day that goes by that, you know, i don't miss putting on the uniform, the air force uniform, and going to work and doing my part. >> thompson: once again, just as after charlottesville, i was seeing an extremist inside the military. and based on the berkeley team's reporting, carrillo was far from alone. >> we matched their photo on their facebook with the air force website. >> thompson: the team identified at least 15 active duty airmen openly promoting boogaloo content on facebook. like carrillo, eight of them served in the air force security branch. >> it was kind of substantiating this relationship we had already
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been digging into between the military and military experience, and this so-called boogaloo movement. we started to put the pieces together and say, "okay, these are people with legitimate military experience who are going out, and you know, creating noise on behalf of this movement, boogaloo bois." >> thompson: so was steven carrillo part of a local or regional chapter or cell or militia-- what was the deal? >> yeah, we know that he was a part of a local militia group called the grizzly scouts. >> thompson: so did steven ever train with these guys? did he meet up with them? >> he did, they had two meetings. the first was on april 25th. and when you think about it, that's only six weeks before the alleged oakland shooting. >> thompson: right. >> and the second time was on may 9th. >> thompson: so right before the shooting. >> right before that, yeah. >> thompson: and what was your sense of their ideology? >> the movement's decentralized, anyone can call themselves a boogaloo boy, just because there's a group of boogaloo bois who say, you know, we're colorblind, you know, look at, you know, these people who affiliate with our group who are not white, doesn't mean
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that there aren't white supremacists who affiliate with the boogaloo movement. they're very much so fluid in a sense. >> ultimately the "boogaloo" means a violent insurrection. like ultimately, whatever the spectrum you're in as a boogaloo boy, you are wishing and actively pushing for a violent insurrection. >> i think in steven carrillo's case, what's really interesting is if you saw some of the posts he was putting on facebook prior to that event, he was, you know, like, "let's use these protests to our advantage, let's go out and sort of use this moment to capitalize on it." >> thompson: the air force wouldn't comment on carrillo's case or the other members of the service we identified as connected to the boogaloo bois. but a senior pentagon official told me extremism in the ranks is a disturbing problem they're working to address. movement, trying to figure out its reach and capabilities.
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♪ ♪ outwardly, they're quirky-- hawaiian shirts, igloo patches, and ironic memes. their ideology is all over the map: i find a boogaloo telegram channel filled with neo-nazi propaganda, and another one with statements denouncing systemic racism. but there is one unifying idea: the desire for a violent insurrection. in our reporting, we found more than a dozen men linked to the movement who'd been arrested on weapons or explosives charges. one allegedly planned to execute a police officer and livestream it on facebook. another, ivan hunter, was charged for shooting up a police precinct in minneapolis. he pleaded not guilty, but court records show an online chat between hunter and steven carrillo: "go for police buildings," hunter says. carrillo responds just hours after the killing of the federal officer in oakland, "i did better lol."
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>> what's up, everyone? this is another episode of "flintlock faction." i am your host jay flintlock... >> thompson: "flintlock faction" is a podcast popular in boogaloo circles. >> today i am being graced with his presence, guerilla instructor-- what's up, dude? >> (laughs) uh, nothing much, man, just glad to be here... >> thompson: host jay flintlock, who claims to be a current national guardsman, chats with his guest, who says he's a former soldier. they discuss carrying out an insurrection. >> lot of regular infantry guys, cav scouts, uh, you know, mps, we've never done insurgency-type things, but we need to develop those tactics. i think we're gonna see a lot more sabotage and assassination. >> this is all hypothetical. for now. >> oh, purely hypothetical, in "minecraft." >> we-- we love cops, um, we love them so much. >> thompson: this episode, uploaded four weeks before officer underwood was gunned down in oakland, gleefully advocates drive-by shootings. >> you know, i saw, i saw on on your page, uh, "how to
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perform a drive-by shooting," and i was like, man that's some real gangsta (no audio) right there. (laughs) >> i believe honestly that drive-bys will be our greatest tool because it's very easy to teach, it's, hey, you know, let's get three guys in an s.u.v., roll up on this target, shoot it up, kill two dudes and run off. >> right. >> thompson: i don't know if steven carrillo ever heard "flintlock faction." but the similarities between the podcast and the shootings in oakland are haunting. i try to speak with the fbi about the carrillo case. the bureau won't talk, but john bennett-- a recently retired agent who oversaw the investigation-- agrees to meet with me. he tells me he's become increasingly concerned about the boogaloo bois. >> they were a very obscure group, um, that all of a sudden, you know, came on, came on the, uh, on the radar. you know, while i understood skinheads and neo-nazis and ms-13 and, and isis and all, all the, you know, groups that are violent around the world, boogaloo? and, and, the whole, the whole
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term just seemed, um, you know, nonsensical. so you'll see a lot of them carry, you'll see a lot of them in their hawaiian shirts because that is, you know, part of their uniform. but generally, there is a lot of wannabe. they wanna go out and they're gonna go camping and they're gonna do, um, you know, they're gonna go paintballing, so they can get their tactics down, and it's really a bunch of kids playing army, you know, that's the easiest thing i can relate it to. >> thompson: right. >> except some of them have taken it, "no kidding, we're gonna go ahead and put live rounds in our guns, and we're gonna, we're gonna do something that's-that's gonna be terrible and impact people's lives." they wanna be the instigators, the, the frontline of, of the civil war that's gonna happen in-in this country, and they're convinced, "we're gonna be ready and we're gonna be the ones that are gonna survive." >> thompson: i need to see the movement for myself. i go to virginia, where a boogaloo cell is marching against a local gun ordinance. fifty protesters show up.
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they have body armor, assault rifles, and outlawed high capacity magazines. they carry igloo flags and wear hawaiian shirts and ironic patches. the group is led by mike dunn. so how you feeling about today? >> liberty shall not be infringed. >> thompson: has this been a success in your mind? >> liberty shall not be infringed. >> thompson: dunn postures like a seasoned squad leader. but this doesn't look li a group that's going to lead a violent insurrection. i can see the threat they pose though-- the boogaloo bois have demonstrated the potential to carry out acts of violence. some in law enforcement and the intelligence community also saw this threat, but i've been told that their concerns were rejected by the white house. >> among the counterterrorism community, we took it very seriously, but you really do need that presidential level leadership saying, "this is a threat, we are gonna use all
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of our tools to go after this threat"-- that never happened under trump. >> thompson: elizabeth neumann was one of the top counterterrorism officials in the trump administration. she says she tried to warn the white house about the rising threat of far right extremists, but the president and his allies claimed the real threat was from black lives matter and antifa. >> does antifa exist? it's not an organization, it's a movement. you have groups of people that associate with them. do they show up at protests? sure. is it a massive conspiracy to overthrow the u.s. government and kill a lot of people? no. you know, where that is? it's on the right, it's in the white supremacist movement. it's in the anti-government militia movement. it's in the boogaloo boy movement. it's not in the anti-fascist movement. >> thompson: neumann says she watched with alarm as president trump didn't just ignore the threat of domestic extremism, he incited it. >> he attacked the governor of michigan, he attacked the governor of virginia for their pandemic mitigation measures, and was using rhetoric like,
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"you gotta take your, your state back, you gotta push back against your governor." now, not all of them are going to radicalize, not all of them are going to commit an act of violence. but that is a huge pool of people to be vulnerable. meanwhile, we have active white supremacist organizations, neo-nazis, um, we have a boogaloo bois movement looking for ways to attack our country, ways to commit acts of violence. >> thompson: neumann resigned in frustration from dhs in april 2020. by october, her warnings seemed to be coming true. police and federal agents arrested 14 militia members, charging them with plotting to kidnap michigan governor gretchen whitmer, try her in their own court, and potentially execute her for treason.ig probm with the young... a woman
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governor from... you know who i'm talking about, from michigan. >> thompson: for months trump had been railing against the governor and her covid restrictions. and even after the plot was revealed, his attacks continued. >> you got to get your governor to open up your state, okay? >> lock her up! lock her up! >> lock 'em all up. >> thompson: a kidnapping plot against a sitting governor. it was a shocking escalation in tactics. not long after the arrests, i went to michigan to investigate. the fbi identified the militia behind the plot as the wolverine watchmen. their social media is full of boogaloo iconography and law enforcement has connected them to militia members in at least four states. among the people arrested for the kidnapping plot were joe morrison and his father-in-law, pete musico-- the founders of the wolverine watchmen.
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also arrested was barry croft, who prosecutors call "probably the most committed violent extremist of the entire group." according to the fbi, some of the plotters convened secret meetings at this vacuum store in grand rapids. an fbi informant recorded the conversations. they met in this basement. in one recording, a member of the group describes a plan to seize the governor from her vacation home and put her on trial. "snatch and grab," he tells the informant. "grab the governor. because at that point, it's over." i wanted to know more about the wolverine watchmen, about how far their network went. >> usa! usa! usa! usa! >> thompson: i hear that several militias will be gathering at a rally in a suburb of grand rapids.
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i decide to show up. even so soon after the arrests, militia members seem undaunted. they march in the streets, openly supporting the alleged plotters and condemning the governor. >> this governor tries to control us, trampling all over our god-given individual liberties. >> thompson: the militia doing security today is missing two of its members-- the null brothers-- who were charged as part of the kidnapping plot. >> militia members are being arrested and stripped of the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. and i can't speak for all of them, but i know two of them, because two of them have stood right beside me at these very events. and i feel a heck of a lot safer when they're around me. >> free the nulls! >> yeah, free the null brothers. exactly. (applause) >> ...still walking around. >> whitmer's still walking around. what are you talking about? >> lock her up! lock her up!
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lock her up! lock her up! >> hey, careful, you guys say that out loud, they're going try to arrest you for attempting to kidnap her too. >> lock her up! lock her up! lock her up! >> thompson: they weren't just angry, they considered the governor's covid restrictions criminal. and the state's republicans were even preparing articles of impeachment to that effect. >> people are getting really mad at what she's done, they have found out is illegal, and she should be arrested and nothing's being done. >> thompson: and so you think the wolverine watchmen and the other guys were planning to arrest her? you think that's what was going on? >> yeah. yes. it was going to be a citizen's arrest. >> thompson: you think there's a lot of people that feel that way in michigan? >> oh yeah, oh yeah. people are upset. they're very, very upset at whitmer. very upset. (cars honking, crowd cheering) >> thompson: this anger at the governor had been boiling since the spring, when militias
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rallied at the state capitol. according to the fbi, it was here that the kidnapping plot first began to coalesce. >> let us in! let us in! >> open the door! >> let us in! >> thompson: egged on by president trump, who had tweeted "liberate michigan," heavily armed militia members stormed the capitol building. >> tyranny! tyranny! tyranny! >> thompson: with chants of "tyranny" and "heil whitmer,"wh" they confronted lawmakers. >> heil hitler! heil hitler to whitmer!r up! lock her up! >> thompson: looking back, it seems like a precursor to what would happen at the u.s. capitol. armed protestors made it into the legislators' gallery and disrupted the session. representative sarah anthony was there that day. >> april 30th, when, you know, armed gunmen stormed the capitol building, is probably the most terrifying thing that i've ever experienced in my life.
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filled, this lobby was filled. all around. up these steps. this is where, you know, we had hundreds of people. >> thompson: and most of them were armed? >> oh, absolutely. absolutely armed. when we got word that they were coming into the building, you know, just sheer fear went through my body and i can tell you that other legislators on both sides of the aisle were very fearful as well. i was on the floor and i missed three calls from my mom. she was not sure if her daughter was going to make it home alive. >> thompson: when we spoke, the attack in washington d.c. was still months away, but anthony was already worried where things might be heading next. >> 2020 has been building up, it's been a slow fire. it's like a powder keg. i don't know when that explosion is going to happen or what form it's going to take. (people shouting on video) >> thompson: in footage from april 30, you can see six of the alleged kidnapping plotters. one is visible with a boogaloo-style hawaiian shirt and an ar-15 at the front of the
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protestors. the wolverine watchmen founder, pete musico, is in the footage too, calling the legislators traitors. >> traitors! ♪ ♪ >> thompson: musico and his son-in-law pleaded not guilty to charges related to the kidnapping plot. i find property records in jackson for a parcel of land in musico's name. he was being held in the jackson county jail. his home may be empty, but i decide to take a look. (knocks on door) (knocks on door) hey, how you doing? >> no comment. thank you. >> thompson: hey, we would love to get in touch with pete and
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joseph. i saw what they been saying to... >> that's why i can't comment, because they put out so much misinformation. >> thompson: that's what we want to figure out what really happened. i saw what pete was saying in court and what his attorney said and we would love to talk to his attorney... >> no, i'm dealing with it. tell her just settle down. >> i'm real interested in what really happened. >> i'm sure a lot of people are. >> thompson: crystal musico is nervous, but eager to speak about the fbi raid, and the arrest of her husband. >> they separated us all and questioned us each one. it was always about politics. >> thompson: about politics and boogaloo? >> we won't have anything to do with politics anymore. there won't be anything. if you want to vote, vote. great, vote. i hope it does you some good because it ain't done us nothing but give us heartache. >> thompson: pete was at the rallies at the capitol, right? >> mm-hmm. >> thompson: why do you think he went out there? >> to protest. >> thompson: did you go? did you go? >> i did go to one. i went to one. >> thompson: and did pete bring arms when he went to the protest? >> yes. >> thompson: why'd he do that? >> because he has that right. >> thompson: what i see in the law enforcement bulletins and what i see in the court charges
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are boogaloo movement, it's abouviolently overthrowing the government, starting a civil war and killing cops. and to me that's fairly shocking. >> it is shocking. it is shocking to hear all that, but it's also shocking to know that a cop is legally allowed to stand on your neck and kill you. it is shocking that that's allowed and people are okay with that because i'm not, but i ain't doing nothing about it. >> thompson: and you think this isn part a response to concerns about police abuse and about police... >> i think it's a response to a lot of concerns more than just police. >> thompson: what else? >> the way the country is going. this is all in the bible. you can believe it or not, i don't care. your faith is not mine to judge and mine's not yours to judge. >> thompson: you think this... are we at the end of days, do you think? >> yeah. i do believe so. i think we're on the third day, jesus rose on the third day. ♪ ♪ >> thompson: crystal musico's beliefs have deep roots here in michigan. nearly 30 years ago, this was
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the epicenter of the modern militia movement. the michigan militia was once considered the nation's largest, claiming 10,000 members. timothy mcveigh reportedly attended some of its meetings before he blew up the oklahoma city federal building in 1995. (dialing out) >> (on laptop): can you hear me? >> thompson: michigan attorney general dana nessel knows the history well. she says the new generation of militias is different. >> i think the difference is that these folks felt supported by those in government and perhaps at the highest levels of government. you had the president of the united states calling her out by name, calling her a dictator, saying that individuals should liberate michigan. the president of the united states, after these armed gunmen had more or less taken over our capitol building, you know, his words were that these are very fine people and the governor ought to sit down and negotiate with them.
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can you imagine? that sounds like a hostage crisis more than anything. >> thompson: have you gotten threats? i mean, have people threatened your life? >> (laughs) i'm sorry to laugh. but it's like you should be asking me, "how many days a week are you not getting death threats?" and that's not just me, it's our secretary of state, it's our governor. i think that we would be lying if we said that we never got worried, we never got scared for ourselves or for our family members. >> thompson: though the d.o.j. is handling some of the kidnapping cases, nessel is prosecuting pete musico and seven of the other alleged plotters. do you think these arrests neutralize the threat? >> as of today, right now, do i think that it's still a significant concern in michigan? i do. >> thompson: nessel says the threat from militias is real and has been evolving for years. a new wave of militias emerged during the iraq war, groups like the oath keepers and the three percenters. but they've never been accused
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of anything like the terror attributed to the boogaloo and wolverine watchmen. ♪ ♪ i'm told about a location where the watchmen allegedly trained and prepared for the kidnapping operation. the camp is deserted. its training course-- with spray painted human targets-- is littered with spent shells. according to federal prosecutors, the watchmen blew up a homemade bomb here. neighbors tell me they heard the blast a half mile away. the bomb was allegedly built by the man prosecutors describe as one of the plot's masterminds-- barry croft. croft is being held in a michigan jail. in fbi recordings, he claimed he had been granted permission from god to commit murder. i try to contact him through his lawyer, but get nowhere. and then, i get an email.
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croft wants to talk. (phone ringing) >> good morning, sir. how are you? even though my attorney told me not to speak to you, i felt it necessary to clear my name. somebody has gotta say something contrary to what the federal propagated mainstream media's putting out there and that's why i came to you. >> thompson: is there anything you can say about the wolverine watchmen? >> you know, i'm very unfamiliar with their, uh, "militia." i wasn't a member. i was only tied in by satellite individuals. >> thompson: croft has pleaded not guilty, and won't talk about anything specifically related to the kidnapping plot. but in addition to his ties to the watchmen, the fbi says he's a leader of the three percenters, a national network of militia groups. >> if you look under the militia statute, every able-bodied american male, 17 to
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45, is considered in the unorganized militia. the militia is absolutely necessary to the security of a free state. >> thompson: i saw an interview with you, and you were wearing a hawaiian shirt with your tricorn hat. >> (laughs) yeah. >> thompson: what do you think of the boogaloo movement? >> i got a kick out of those kids because even though, you know, you might find some boogaloo bois that are over here, some are over there, at least they're paying attention. they're young, they're motivated. >> thompson: and they're militant. >> um, yeah. they're militant. and i-i got a kick out of those kids. they... you know, the one out of virginia, mike dunn. you know, you-you look at him and he's an inspiration. >> thompson: did you ever meet mike dunn? did you ever talk to him online? >> i talked to him on the phone once or twice before they, uh, before they came and wrapped me up. >> thompson: mike dunn. before his arrest, barry croft
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had been in contact with the boogaloo leader i'd seen at the rally in richmond. dunn is just 20 years old. he'd joined the marines out of high school but says he was medically discharged with a heart condition. and he leads one of the most visible boogaloo chapters in the country. dunn lives in rural virginia. >> we definitely are the modern militia. we're the ones crazy enough to actually do something. i think that a lot of people, especially on the right, republicans, realized that it was no longer a america of liberty. i think a lot of people woke up to that in these past four years. >> thompson: so the trump presidency is eroding people's faith in the government further. >> i wouldn't say that he's necessarily helped erode it further, i think he's just helped spotlight it further. i believe a lot of people were already skeptical, and then i think there are some that saw the president of the united states being skeptical and said, "maybe we should too."
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>> thompson: is this a movement that's hierarchical? are there commanders? are there leaders? how does it work? >> there are boogaloo cells within the movement. you have a fire team, or four people, five people, six people, whatever. and those teams have a leader that they answer to generally. as far as a leader for the movement itself, no, there's not a leader. >> thompson: you're sketching out a decentralized network where you have different nodes on that network that may have a leadermay have a commander and a structure, but overall there's no overarching general who's calling the shots? >> no, there's not. >> what do you think of these guys from michigan who are allegedly targeting the governor? >> i feel they, uh... they did what should happen across the united states in a lot of places. they were going to take a stand against what they perceive to be tyranny. >> thompson: did you interact with those guys, the michigan people? >> yeah, i'd interacted with a couple. >> thompson: online or in person? >> online. >> thompson: what about steve carrillo, the guy from california?
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>> steve carrillo, yeah. >> thompson: you talked to him? >> yeah, a lot of people in the movement knew who steve was. >> thompson: so you messaged with him? >> i'm not going to comment. >> thompson: but you saw him online? >> i knew who he was. >> thompson: you knew who he was? >> yeah. >> thompson: what did you think when he got arrested? >> i'm sure he had a reason for targeting who he targeted, and so be it. >> thompson: i don't buy a lot of dunn's claims. but listening to him is unsettling. it's clear that many in the movement are connected. and they seem to be growing more radical with each new arrest. there's been a bunch of arrests... >> yes, there has been. >> thompson: the last month. >> a lot. >> thompson: you worried about those guys? >> i think that a lot of them will take care of themselves while they're in, and when they get out we'll welcome them with open arms. or we have a revolution and we free them. when things pop off, we're going to be liberating them first. >> thompson: are you worried that more people are going to get wrapped up? >> yeah, more than likely. i just hope they go out shooting, killing the ones who come to enforce unconstitutional law, so be it. we're past the point of peace.
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i think about a revolution against the government. i do believe it's inevitable. >> thompson: with tensions high, washington d.c. boards up as if the election was a hurricane headed for the city. a trump victory could further embolden the far right movements that see him as a champion. a defeat could further radicalize them. throughout the year, the president had been whipping up fears that the election would be stolen, and as the night wears on with no concession speech, no declared winner, the moment seems full of danger. the next morning, with the nation on edge, i sit down with mary mccord, a former counter terrorism official at the u.s. justice department. >> obviously as of last night, and even this morning, there's a fair bit of uncertainty in terms of the ballot counting.
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we're in a tenuous situation in waiting to see how the right-wing organizations will react. and if biden is declared the winner, then i certainly have some concerns that those on the right who think maybe this is the result of fraud or a rigged election, particularly if the president is saying so, will take more aggressive action along the lines of what we saw earlier this year in opposition to, for example, governors' stay-at-home orders. >> thompson: mccord tracks extremist groups and was instrumental in suing the militias who'd shown up in charlottesville. >> under this presidency, the far right, unlawful militias have felt much more license to publicly engage. it's given them a real opportunity. and they've said this from the beginning. i trace a lot of things to charlottesville's unite the right rally, when the president's talked about very fine people on both sides, i mean, that was immediate. right-wing groups, including militia groups, just, you know, grabbed ahold of that language
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and it helps them recruit, it helps them fundraise, it helps them expand. >> thompson: you come a few years into the future, and now we're seeing that all the time in the present day. >> so much more so than i had ever seen before, i mean, you know, if we think back, you know, about militias, like, we remember things like ruby ridge and waco, texas, and even more recently, the bundy ranch standoff in bunkerville, nevada. or the malheur wildlife refuge standoff. still, those looked very different, right, than what we're seeing now with, like, going into, like, downtown areas, you know, whether it's small towns in idaho, sandpoint or coeur d'alene, or port... or big cities like portland, right? they feel that they have the president's approval and they're using that and that's partly why we're seeing them more and more and more on the streets. not, you know, not just in one or two areas of the country, but across the country. >> thompson: if trump leaves office, what kind of legacy do you think he'll leave behind? >> a lot of it will depend on what he's continuing to say once
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he leaves office-- if he does leave office. if he continues to say that the election was stolen from him, again, that will give these groups something to coalesce around. (indistinct chatter) >> thompson: on november 14, one week after the election was called for joe biden, trump's supporters take to the streets in washington. stirred up by the president's refusal to concede, they demand that the results be overturned. >> trump 2020! >> thompson: hundreds of proud boys gather, by far the largest contingent i've ever seen assembled. (crowd singing) brien james is here, both as a proud boy, and leading his own group called the american guard. >> ♪ wouldn't do us any harm (singing indistinctly) ♪ wouldn't do us any harm and we'll all hang on behind ♪ >> who's our president? >> trump's our president! >> hoo-roo! >> hoo-roo! >> i refuse to apologize! >> for creating the modern
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world! >> for creating the modern world! >> i am a proud boy! >> i am a proud boy! >> hoo-rah! >> thompson: new proud boys are initiated and they march through the streets. >> (chanting): usa! usa! usa! usa! >> thompson: i see former nazi skinheads with the proud boys. they mix with mainstream trump supporters. it was the kind of crowd that would turn out again and again to support trump's efforts to overturn the election. ♪ ♪ >> (chanting): all lives matter! all lives matter! >> thompson: as night falls, proud boys merge with maga marchers and roam the city looking for fights. trump supporters confront journalists... >> enemy of the people! >> thompson: vandalize black lives matter signs... (clamoring) (crunching)
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and fight with activists who try to stop them. (panicked shouting) >> get out of here! >> thompson: a month later, trump supporters take to the streets of washington again, and once again, the protests turn violent. (shouting) and then, he calls his supporters to the capitol on january 6. >> we're going to walk down and i'll be there with you. we're going walk down to the capitol. (cheers) you'll never take back our country with weakness. you have to show strength, and you have to be strong. (cheers) we have come to demand that congress do the right thing, and we fight. we fight like hell, and if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. >> thompson: as the clock runs out on his presidency, he urges them towards the capitol
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building. the proud boys are here, but they aren't wearing their trademark yellow and black. (indistinct shouting) the boogaloo bois are here too, also out of uniform. they both blend into the pro-trump crowd. inside, congress is trying to certify the election. outside, the crowd is bearing down on them. >> whose house? >> our house! >> whose house? >> our house! >> thompson: but the police on the steps are outnumbered and unprepared. (people clamoring, chanting) ♪ ♪ (people shouting)
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(clanging, shouting) (people shouting) >> (screams) help! >> thompson: around 140 police officers are injured. one officer, brian sicknick, will later die. (people shouting) (banging, glass shattering) a proud boy from new york state smashes through a window. (indistinct shouting) the capitol has been breached. ♪ ♪ >> you're killing me, man-- hey! (clamoring) >> thompson: a proud boy broke the window, but what about the crowd behind him?
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a mob, urged on by the president, willing to embrace an insurrectionary violence that was once confined only to the most extreme elements of the far right. >> it's amazing! >> thompson: bewildered, some wander through the halls. others move towards e senate chamber. (people shouting, fighting) police struggle to hold them off while congress members flee through back exits. the mob surges through the hallways, searching for them, coming within feet of their targets. >> (chanting): break it down! break it down! break it down! >> thompson: rioters try to break into a hallway that lawmakers are escaping through. (gun shot) (ringing) >> shot fired! >> thompson: a protestor is shot
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and killed. (muffled shouting) three other rioters die in the mayhem. (ringing, muffled audio) it would be hours before the capitol was cleared. (ringing fading) the morning after the attack, congress's hallways are deserted. ♪ ♪ i meet with representative andré carson. >> i was alerted by a capitol police officer that i needed to stay in my office. now as a former police officer, my instinct is to get more
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information and participate, but these group of officers urge me to stay in my office. >> thompson: carson served in a police anti-terrorism unit in indiana. in congress, he is a member of the house intelligence committee. >> i can remember when i first served on the intelligence committee, there were leaders in the fbi under the obama administration who very arrogantly and self-righteously talked about how they were gonna defend our country against these terrorist attacks, so-called muslim attacks. but when it comes to white supremacists, the fbi is too silent. it has to change. it has to change. much more work needs to be done. ♪ ♪ (phone dialing out) >> thompson: hey mike, are you there? >> (on phone): how's it going? yeah, man, how are you? >> thompson: all right, man. it's a gray day in d.c. >> it's a gray time for our nation as well. >> thompson: i reach mike dunn later-- he says he hadn't been at the capitol riot, but i want to find out what he's thinking.
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so in your mind, what changed for the boogaloo movement on wednesday? >> we realized that we're a lot closer to a revolution. our recruiting and interest went completely through the roof as well. they're beginning to understand that the only answer is revolution. >> thompson: proud boys didn't wear yellow and black, the boogs are not wearing hawaiian shirts. do you think we're in, like, a kind of new phase in the struggle? >> i think that people are learning and adapting. i think we're definitely looking at armed insurrection. many of us in this movement, myself and a lot of other young people like me, have come to grips with the fact that death is a reality, it's coming. we just want ours to count. ♪ ♪ >> thompson: washington goes on lockdown. the national guard patrols the streets. law enforcement agencies across
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the country spring into action. after charlottesville, it took months for the fbi to build a handful of cases. but within weeks there have been more than 130 arrests. i search the list of names. many of the individuals charged are affiliated with groups i've been tracking. but even more of them have no apparent ties to extremist groups at all. two weeks after january 6th, boogaloo bois stage rallies around the country. ♪ ♪ in michigan they return to the state capitol. and i recognize boogaloo bois who took part in the siege here back in april. ♪ ♪ in virginia, mike dunn marches again. >> all we do repeatedly is get tread on! well, today we're not getting tread on! >> thompson: this might be the last time he leads boogaloo bois in public. after this rally, he changes
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his phone number and vanishes from social media. in our last conversation, he tells me that the struggle is entering a new phase and he needs to disappear. the proud boys are here too. but their numbers are small. after the capitol siege, and proud boys getting arrested for that, for breaching the capitol. >> what proud boys >> thompson: there were dozens of proud boys there who were helping to orchestrate the breach. do you want an insurrection to overturn the election... >> we want a patriotic party that puts america first. >> thompson: you guys were never looking for trouble in d.c., or anywhere? >> we don't look for no problems at all. >> thompson: in the months that follow, the number of people arrested climbs to more than 700. some proud boys face potential sentences of years behind bars. and just like after charlottesville, groups splinter, turn on each other and fade from the front lines.
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♪ ♪ in washington d.c., the fences are gone. so are the national guard patrols. the city no longer feels like a war zone. but when i come back to the capitol almost a year later, there are many questions that remain unanswered. >> we cannot allow what happened on january 6 to ever happen again. we owe it to the american people. and we will not fail, i assure you, in that responsibility. >> thompson: the house of representatives has empaneled a committee to investigate january 6th and to recommend changes that will prevent something like that from happening again. representative bennie thompson is the committee chair. >> january 6th, uh, was a difficult day for me personally because i was in the capitol. i've seen a lot of people come to this capitol. uh, people have, uh, the
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ability, i thought, in washington d.c. to express themselves regardless of position. but if i ever imagined that somebody would invade the united states capitol, never in my wildest dreams did i imagine that would occur. despite what all had occurred, we were called back in the early morning hours to complete the certification. because if we don't certify the election, then donald trump is still president. >> thompson: mm-hmm. >> and he can do a number of things... martial law is a-a potential. uh... >> thompson: it could have been something looking like a coup. >> (laughs): absolutely. you get people who i talk to on a daily basis who actually tell me that what i saw and experienced on january 6th
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really didn't happen. >> thompson: people come to you and they say january 6th didn't happen? >> yeah, it-it... they say, "look, uh, it was the black lives matter folk, it was "antifa dressed up as trump people who did that." or, in addition to that, you have those millions of folk who are out there who are convinced that those individuals who broke into the united states capitol, they were some of the greatest patriots. >> thompson: right. right, they say these are heroes. >> that's right. >> thompson: they say that people like you are the enemy. >> absolutely. and that's why our mission on this committee is so important. >> thompson: thompson's committee has subpoenaed members of trump's inner circle and interviewed hundreds of witnesses, including some d.c. and capitol police officers. >> the fence came down and still nothing has changed. if a hitman is hired and he kills somebody, not only does
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the hitman go to jail, but the person who hired them does. there was an attack carried out on january 6th. and a hitman sent them. i want you to get to the bottom of that. those windows up there. those were some of the first windows that were smashed. that door. they were able to breech that door. >> thompson: the big one up the steps? >> yeah, up the steps right there. >> thompson: capitol police officer harry dunn walks me through what happened that day. >> i was on the other side of the capitol. once i cleared like this tree line right here, i was just looking out and i just couldn't believe what i saw. there were flash bangs going off. there were smoke grenades going off. um... >> thompson: from your side or from the other side? >> both! >> thompson: from both? >> i've never seen anything like that before. my number one thought was just to survive that day. just to survive. at that time, we had no clue what was going on. we were fighting for our lives. we're fighting for democracy. and... how was this gonna end?
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like, 'cause we were hours and hours and hours... it's gotta end somehow! how is it gonna end?! >> thompson: and did you think like it might end with these guys overrunning this place? >> yeah. yeah, it crossed my mind >> thompson: so i was interviewing recently, uh, an elected public official and he was here. he said, "i think maybe that was an antifa event. it was meant to make republicans and trump supporters, maga people look bad." what-what do you think when you hear stuff like that? and he was here. >> the rioters that day in the building told us that "donald trump sent us." i don't know how to make that any more clear to anybody. now whether donald trump gave what they've been saying as the marching orders, whether he did or not, whatever. that's not... that's not my job. i just know what i experienced. i know what i went through. and they were there because donald trump sent them, according to them. "donald trump sent us." ♪ ♪
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>> thompson: after the attack, we tried to get information from the justice department about its investigation and the people who'd been arrested. along with other news organizations, propublica sued for access to the evidence they'd been gathering. i thought that there was going to be battles across the country. i thought that there was going to be fighting. i kept thinking that we're going to go to like a civil war. >> thompson: in late november, 2021, the d.o.j. made public its interrogation of daniel rodriguez, who admitted to assaulting a police officer. >> what do you want me to tell you-- that i-i tased him? yes. i thought we were going to do something. i thought that it was not going to end-- happen like that. i thought that trump was going to stay president. >> thompson: rodriguez has pled not guilty, and his lawyers have argued he was manipulated by the agents. his words echo narratives i've heard before. we felt that they stole this country, that it's gone, it's wiped out. america's over. it's destroyed now. (crowd cheering and clapping)
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>> thompson: the arrests after january 6 may have quieted the movement for a time, but it would turn out to be short-lived. (cheers and applause) >> we need to fight back now. >> thompson: in rallies across the country, i see momentum building around overturning the 2020 election. the crowds include fewer of the characters and groups i've been tracking. i see more and more mainstream americans. according to polling data, around two-thirds of republicans have come to believe that the 2020 elections were stolen. and about a third say violence may be necessary to save the country. i go back to talk to mary mccord. what do you think has happened to those organized groups now? the proud boys, the boaloo bois, the militias, uh, like where are they at in terms of strength at this point? >> well, within days, literally days, they started
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finger-pointing, some dissolved, some reconstituted themselves. you know i think the three percenters said, "we are no longer," and you had all these three percenters national saying, "okay, we need to find another group." and they also started, you know, making up other disinformation, like this was all an antifa plot. >> thompson: right. >> this was a law enforcement plot. but, you know, americans have really short memory and time has passed, many months have passed now, and we're starting to see at least in the social media and online forums, you know, uh, organizing again in very dangerous ways. >> thompson: so the, the movement lives on. >> it does live on and, and, you know in a way, it's harder to... for law enforcement to deal with when it's so disparate like that, right? you know, a dozen individuals going to a local school board meeting in a rural county without a big police force-- that's harder to protect against than the capitol, right? the capitol will not suffer an
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insurrection like that again. >> thompson: where do you see the threats coming from at this point, and into the future? what keeps you up at night? >> mm-hmm. i mean a-a lot of the threats i still see coming from disinformation, uh, getting into our political discourse. and particularly as we come into another election year, what i'm really seeing is all, you know, the seeds are just being planted already of fraud rampant throughout our election systems. >> thompson: polling on this issue is pretty chilling. there are tens of millions of americans that absolutely believe that the 2020 election was a fraud, and a lot of them have said, "i'm willing to use violence to change things." >> first of all, it's astounding to see that data, um, and i... and i tell myself sometimes that surely there's something wrong (laughs) about that data collection and that some of that is hyperbolic, right? all of that said, you know, we know that gun purchases were up dramatically over 2020. we've seen more and more armed individuals coming out to government proceedings, whether
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it's the counting of the vote after the elections, whether it's public health meetings, you know, school board meetings. the willingness to be threatening government officials and even threatening them what... with arms is, you know, it's something that really needs to be addressed because that could just snowball. (crowd cheering) >> thompson: a year later the country is still living in the shadow of january 6th. the trail that began for me in charlottesville has taken another turn. along the way i've seen up close the peril posed by a resurgent white supremacist movement-- armed militias pledging to execute police and elected officials, ultra-nationalists brawling in the streets, would-be revolutionaries wearing hawaiian shirts. and now, millions of people, convinced the 2020 election was a fraud-- some of them angry enough to turn to violence.
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charlottesville and january 6th had once seemed like bookends to an era. but today it's clear: the movements i've been covering are changing and evolving, but they are not going away. >> go to for more reporting with our partners including our past films. and for a timeline of extremist events leading up to january 6th. >> "you will not replace us..." >> tyranny! tyranny! >> visit the frontline archive where you can stream more than 300 documentaries. connect with frontline on facebook, instagram and twitter. and stream anytime of the pbs video app, youtube or >> ...government orchestrated... ...inside job... ...powerful world government... >> he just kept adding more and more outrageous lies to the story. >> roger delivers legitimacy to
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alex jones and jones delivers to trump a disaffected voter. >> donald trump is our guest. >> i will not let you down. >> now those ideas, which used to be on the fringe are in the mainstream. >> conspiratorial thinking is a feature of this president. >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. additional support is provided by the abrams foundation, committed to excellence in journalism... the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more at park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler. support for “american insurrection” is provided by the wnet group's “exploring hate”
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initiative, with prinicipal support by the following: and additional major funding from: with additional support from: captioned by media access group at wgbh >> for more on this and other "frontline" programs, visit our website at ♪ ♪ frontline's, "american insurrection" is available on amazon prime video. ♪ ♪
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(suspenseful music) >>george floyd! george floyd! >>it took a police officer to put his knee in a black man's neck for the nation to hear like right, police brutality. >>no justice! no peace! >>like that's not right, it shouldn't take for a guy to get a knee put into his neck for change to happen. >>tell the police they can't do this anymore! >>no justice, no peace! >>you're a ----- without your gun. >>we got some good ones, it's okay. >>coming out here every day and evernight, you really don't know what to expect. i feel like if covid wasn't around, it wouldn't have escalated like how it did. so when that happened with george floyd, everybody united together and took the matters into their own hands. people of color want to be equal to everybody.


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