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US Virginia Capital on Edge as F.B.I. Arrests Suspected Neo-Nazis Before Gun Rally

02:50  17 january  2020
02:50  17 january  2020 Source:   nytimes.com

Men discussed opening fire at pro-gun rally in Richmond, say officials

  Men discussed opening fire at pro-gun rally in Richmond, say officials Three suspected neo-Nazis who were arrested this week in Maryland and Delaware discussed opening fire at a scheduled pro-gun rally Monday at Virginia's state Capitol, according to local law officials. Three other men were also arrested in Georgia this week and have been linked to the same group as the men who allegedly planned the attack at Virginia capitol.All six of the men are believed to be connected to a violent, white supremacist group called "the Base," The Wall Street Journal reports. The Georgia trio was arrested Wednesday for conspiring to murder a Georgia couple.

The FBI has arrested three suspected members of a neo - Nazi group who had weapons and hopes of starting a US race war, just days before a planned gun -rights rally in Virginia that was expected to draw thousands of people, officials said on Thursday.

A gun rights rally is scheduled for Monday at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond. WASHINGTON — The F . B . I . has arrested three men suspected of being members of a neo - Nazi hate group, including a former reservist in the Canadian Army, who had weapons and discussed traveling

RICHMOND, Va. — Alarming calls online for a race war. The arrest of three suspected neo-Nazis. Memories of the explosive clashes in Charlottesville, Va., three years ago.

a large tree in front of Virginia State Capitol: A gun rights rally is scheduled for Monday at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond. Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency and announced a temporary ban on weapons on the grounds of the Capitol.© Steve Helber/Associated Press A gun rights rally is scheduled for Monday at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond. Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency and announced a temporary ban on weapons on the grounds of the Capitol.

A sense of crisis enveloped the capital of Virginia on Thursday, with the police on heightened alert and Richmond bracing for possible violence ahead of a gun rally next week that is expected to draw white supremacists and other anti-government extremists.

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The FBI has reportedly arrested three men suspected of belonging to a neo - Nazi hate group, ahead of a pro- gun rally in Virginia on Monday. One was a Canadian army reservist who was fired in August over ties to hate groups and has been suspected missing since, the New York Times reported.

The FBI has arrested three suspected members of a neo - Nazi group who had weapons and hopes Several thousand gun rights supporters are planning a large rally in Richmond, Virginia 's capital , on Monday Virginia , where Democrats took control of the legislature by promising stronger gun laws

Members of numerous armed militias and white power proponents vowed to converge on the city despite the state of emergency declared by Gov. Ralph Northam, who temporarily banned weapons from the grounds of the State Capitol. The potential for an armed confrontation prompted fears of a rerun of the 2017 far-right rally that left one person dead and some two dozen injured in Charlottesville, about an hour’s drive from Monday’s rally.

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a close up of a man: Patrik Mathews© Royal Canadian Mounted Police, via Associated Press Patrik Mathews

The unease increased after the F.B.I. announced the arrest on Thursday of three armed men suspected of being members of a neo-Nazi hate group, including a former Canadian Army reservist, who had obtained weapons and discussed participating in the Richmond rally. The men were linked to The Base, a group that aims to create a white ethnostate, according to the F.B.I.

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The arrests came the day after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency (Reuters) - The FBI has arrested three suspected members of a neo - Nazi group who had weapons Several thousand gun rights supporters are planning a large rally in Richmond, Virginia 's capital , on

The arrests came the day after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Several thousand gun rights supporters are planning a large rally in Richmond, Virginia 's capital Share or comment on this article: Canadian ' neo - Nazi ' soldier who went AWOL to recruit for 'race war'

For weeks, discussions about the rally have lit up Facebook pages and chat rooms frequented by militia members and white supremacists. Various extremist organizations or their adherents are calling Monday’s rally the “boogaloo.” In the lexicon of white supremacists, that is an event that will accelerate the race war they have anticipated for decades.

“They are fanning the flames for this event,” said Megan Squire, a professor at Elon University in North Carolina who tracks extremist chatter online. “They want chaos.”

The rally on Monday, the holiday marking the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was initially organized to protest the Virginia Legislature’s proposed restrictions on gun purchases.

The organizer, the Virginia Citizens Defense League, is prominent in the state’s Second Amendment rights movement, donating tens of thousands of dollars to lawmakers over the years. Its president, Philip Van Cleave, refers to himself as an extremist but issued a statement saying the rally was meant to be a peaceful protest about gun rights.

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4. The F . B . I . arrested three men suspected of being members of a neo - Nazi hate group ahead of a contentious pro- gun rally in Virginia . The men had weapons and discussed traveling to the rally , which is scheduled for the State Capitol in Richmond on Monday, a federal holiday celebrating the Rev.

The three suspected members of The Base had discussed going to Monday's pro- gun rally in Virginia , a law enforcement official tells NPR. Mathews and Lemley had recently been living in Newark, Del. The arrests come days before a pro- gun demonstration that's slated to take place in

In the past, its lobbying efforts were focused on loosening the state’s gun laws. But with a new Democratic majority in the Legislature, the group has made it clear that Monday’s event will be focused on opposing sweeping gun control measures that could be enacted next week.

The governor, in declaring a state of emergency throughout the weekend, warned that “armed militia groups planned to storm the Capitol.”

On Thursday, the House of Delegates and the Senate held their regularly scheduled sessions under tighter-than-normal security by the Capitol Police. The Senate approved several gun control measures, including a bill that limits people to buying only one gun each month.

Also Thursday, a circuit court judge upheld the governor’s temporary ban on weapons in the area around the Capitol from Friday until Tuesday.

Governor Northam called it “the right decision.”

“I took this action to protect Virginians from credible threats of violence,” he said in a statement. “These threats are real — as evidenced by reports of neo-Nazis arrested this morning after discussing plans to head to Richmond with firearms.”

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The three men had obtained guns and discussed traveling to Virginia for protests against new gun control measures, officials said. Alabama man named James Bond, 2 others arrested after 'cages' for children found in home. S&P 500 crosses 3,300 on Morgan Stanley earnings, tech rally .

Topline: Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency ahead of a planned Monday rally over proposed gun control legislation that The New York Times reported Thursday that three suspected members of a neo - Nazi hate group were arrested by the FBI , and that the men were in

The parallels with Charlottesville are inexact because the organizers of Monday’s rally are mainly gun advocates. Charlottesville was a concerted attempt to make far-right, neo-Nazi views more mainstream. There is some overlap among the groups, but the outpouring of online support is an imperfect gauge of who will actually attend.

Still, law enforcement is readying for the worst.

The three men taken into custody on Thursday morning were part of a long-running investigation into an extremist group known as The Base. The men were charged with various federal crimes in Maryland, according to the Justice Department.

One of the men, Patrik J. Mathews, 27, a main recruiter for the group, entered the United States illegally from Canada, according to the officials. He was arrested along with Brian M. Lemley Jr., 33, and William G. Bilbrough IV, 19.

Mr. Mathews was trained as a combat engineer and is considered an expert in explosives. The Canadian Army discharged him after his ties to white supremacists surfaced. Mr. Lemley previously served as a cavalry soldier in the United States Army.

The F.B.I. has grown increasingly concerned about The Base as it has worked to recruit more people. The group encourages the onset of anarchy, according to the Counter Extremism Project, an organization that tracks far-right extremists. Experts say that its founder, an American, appears to be living in Russia.

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  Virginia House Republican leader to hate groups: 'You are not welcome here' The Virginia House Republican leader said anyone spreading "white supremacist garbage" is not welcome in Richmond after a state of emergency was declared because of threats surrounding a gun rights rally planned for Monday. © Joe Mahoney/AP"Any group that comes to Richmond to spread white supremacist garbage, or any other form of hate, violence, or civil unrest isn't welcome here," Todd Gilbert said Saturday in a statement. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

FBI agents on Thursday arrested a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist and two other men who are linked to a violent white supremacist group and were believed to be heading to a pro- gun rally next week in Virginia ’s capital . Virginia gun rights president: 'Northam needs to stop poking the bear'.

A political rally to defend our constitutional rights in Virginia . A Democratic governor who declares a “state of — Bracing for the possibility of violence ahead of a rally to protest efforts to enact sweeping new gun “WASHINGTON — The F . B . I . has arrested three men suspected of being members of a

Former law enforcement officials say The Base and another similarly inspired white supremacist group known as Atomwaffen have become priorities for the F.B.I.

In November, the F.B.I. arrested Richard Tobin, a young man in New Jersey, who was suspected of recruiting on behalf of The Base and of advocating violence, including the killing of black people with a machete.

Mr. Lemley and Mr. Bilbrough were charged on Thursday with transporting and harboring aliens along with conspiracy. Prosecutors also charged Mr. Lemley and Mr. Mathews with transporting a firearm and ammunition with the intent of committing a felony. The complaint also charges Mr. Mathews with possessing a firearm and ammunition while being in the country illegally.

A federal statute defines domestic terrorism but carries no penalties. First and Second Amendment concerns make prosecuting these cases difficult.

According to the authorities, Mr. Lemley and Mr. Mathews made a functioning assault rifle. They also bought more than 1,500 rounds of rifle ammunition, fired the rifle at a Maryland gun range and acquired vests to hold body armor.

Although the charges were not directly linked to the Richmond rally, law enforcement officials said the three men had discussed attending it. Adherents of extremist groups have been beating the drums for people to participate.

One online meme shows half a dozen men who carried out bloody attacks in the United States, Norway and New Zealand, dressing them as biblical saints with halos above their heads. “Virginia Is For” read the headline.

Gun rights rally in Virginia: FBI working with local law enforcement regarding 'threats of violence'

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(Reuters) - The FBI has arrested three suspected members of an armed neo - Nazi group known as The Base that hopes to start a race war in the United States, officials said on Thursday. The arrests came just days before a gun -rights rally in Virginia that was expected to draw thousands of people.

FBI agents on Thursday arrested a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist and two other men who are linked to a violent white supremacist group and were believed to be heading to a pro- gun rally next week in Virginia 's capital . The three men are members of The Base, a neo - Nazi group, and were

Many of the comments are racist, anti-Semitic and unprintable. “Y’all need to go full white ethnostate and really set the pace for 2020,” said another online message, below the picture of a road sign that had been altered to read “Virginia Is For Gun Lovers.”

The call to arms by others prompted fears that the Richmond rally would foreshadow the tenor of political events throughout what promises to be a fraught presidential election.

“This is about those who want to co-opt these moments and turn it into the start of a civil war or some sort of race war,” said Oren Segal, the director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “A lot of this is hyperbole, but who at this point would take that lightly.”

Workers installed temporary barricades and security fencing around the Capitol on Thursday as law enforcement officials announced beefed-up security measures, adding that the thousands of participants expected to attend the rally on Monday will be screened at security checkpoints before being allowed onto the Capitol grounds. That still leaves the possibility that the area outside the grounds will become an armed camp.

Militia members from as far away as Nevada and Oklahoma have announced they will attend — some of them tracked by the Hatewatch research staff at the Southern Poverty Law Center as well as the Anti-Defamation League.

They include national militias such as the Oath Keepers and American Patriots the III%. Members of the Gun Owners of America, an organization whose members consider the National Rifle Association too feeble, also announced plans to attend. Erich Pratt, the host of the Gun Owners of America’s podcast, has championed the idea that possible changes in Virginia’s gun laws are a precursor to the confiscation of weapons.

Several Confederate militias are also planning to attend the Richmond rally after attending an annual march in Lexington, Ky., the Lee-Jackson Day Rally, that honors the Civil War leaders on the weekend before Martin Luther King’s Birthday.

Those militias include the Heirs to the Confederacy, the League of the South and a newer group, the United Confederates of the Carolinas and Virginia, said Dr. Squire, the professor who follows online chatter.

Leaders of various chapters of the Light Foot Militia, including from Pennsylvania, South Carolina and New York, said they also planned to be in Richmond. Some were banned from Charlottesville after the “Unite the Right” rally there.

Richard B. Spencer, one of 24 defendants in a lawsuit over the rally in Charlottesville, told Alex Jones, the founder of Infowars, that he might join him in Richmond, but it was unclear whether either would show up.

Timothy Williams reported from Richmond, Adam Goldman from Washington and Neil MacFarquhar from New York.

Suspected 'Base' members ordered held in detention pending hearings .
All three suspected members of a violent white-supremacist group arrested last week in Maryland and Delaware were ordered held in detention pending further hearings. © Zach Gibson/Getty Images Gun rights advocates attend a rally organized by The Virginia Citizens Defense League on Capitol Square near the state capitol building on January 20, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. Brian Lemley, 33; Patrik Mathews, 27; and William Bilbrough, 19, have been charged with a variety of weapons charges as well as harboring an alien.

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