On August 8, 2022, the FBI launched a raid on Mar-a-Lago, the Florida home of former President Donald Trump. In the immediate aftermath of the raid, many of the former president's close allies leaped to his defense, rallying support across social media. Some prominent figures, including pro-Trump influencers and congressional candidates, called the raid the beginning of a war between the "deep state" and Trump supporters.
Across social media platforms and online forums, antigovernment extremist, white supremacist, and neo-Nazi users responded to the news of the raid, with many posting explicit threats of violence against police, politicians, members of the media, and ideological enemies. Other users argued that civil war was becoming inevitable and said that they were preparing for conflict.
Some users also alluded to acts of terror, comparing the Mar-a-Lago raid to the Waco or Ruby Ridge sieges and saying "Idaho and Waco leads to OKC" – a clear reference to Timothy McVeigh's 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Users on antigovernment forums were particularly violent in their reaction to the news, with many saying they were readying for armed insurrection or war against the federal government. Some users spoke of wanting to see politicians' "heads on a spike," while others said that "every single person who works [in the media], even the fucking janitor, is culpable" and therefore a legitimate target for violence.
The following report outlines initial extremist reactions to the FBI's Mar-a-Lago raid. All reactions were posted on the evening of August 8 or the morning of August 9.
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Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists And Other Extremists: Raid On Mar-a-Lago Lago Will Lead To Civil War
Many users on extremist-friendly platforms, including TheDonald, Telegram, and MeWe, called for armed conflict against the federal government, with many stating that a second civil war was imminent. Users said they were readying their weapons and preparing for violence, with many expressing the belief that the government is in the process of falling or becoming a "banana republic," and that there is a need for direct resistance against the federal government.
In an antigovernment group on Gab, a user posted an image of a flaming Capitol building with a tattered American flag and wrote: "Olympus has Fallen. Welcome to the Banana Republic."
On MeWe, in an antigovernment group a user posted a meme of an armed man in front of the Capitol, his left half dressed in Revolutionary era garb and his right half dressed in modern military garb, with the text: "IT'S TIME TO DO SOME PATRIOT SHIT."
Users Threaten Violence Against Media, Politicians, And Other Civilians
Users across social media took this opportunity to violently threaten members of the media, politicians, janitors, their neighbors, and other civilians. Many users on antigovernment forums promoted public execution of anyone who is vocally anti-Trump, while others expressed their hopes to see the heads of politicians "on a spike."
On the pro-Trump, antigovernment "TheDonald" forum, some users posted threats against prominent Democrats. One wrote: "Would have loved to have seen someone with Nancy and Chuck's head on a pike." Another user responded saying: "in Minecraft, soon elsewhere." The term "In Minecraft" is code used by extremists online to give plausible deniability to threats of violence.
Users also posted threats of violence against members of the media, local politicians, and other civilians. One wrote: "Just make sure your mags are loaded and you're ready. It's close. Remember that your neighbors are not the ones controlling this." Another user then directly threatened local politicians and media, saying: "Well the members of the local city and county boards as well as the local media should absolutely be targeted by every patriot." Another agreed, writing: "Media is the distribution center for the propaganda. Every single person that works there, even the fucking janitor, is culpable."
Neo-Nazis Incite Terrorism And Vigilante Violence
Neo-Nazi and white supremacist users online used the raid as an excuse to incite terrorism and violence, with many calling it a modern-day equivalent of the Ruby Ridge standoff and alluding to the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
On Gab, in an antigovernment group, a user posted a graphic showing Trump with red lasers shooting out of his eyes. The text reads: "Big. Fucking. Mistake."
On MeWe, in an accelerationist chat, a user posted an image of the burning Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, with an edited image of an FBI agent added to the foreground. The text reads: "WHEN WILL THE FBI DO ANOTHER WACO??"
Other users made references to terrorism, specifically comparing the Mar-a-Lago raid to the Ruby Ridge standoff and suggesting that retributive violence à la Timothy McVeigh may be due. A forum user wrote: "The answer to Idaho [Ruby Ridge] and Waco [Branch Davidians] is OKC [Oklahoma City]."