Ahead of a gun rights demonstration set to take place January 20, 2020 on the capitol grounds in Richmond, Virginia, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency and banned firearms on the Capitol grounds. This, he said, is due to "credible intelligence from our law enforcement that there are groups with malicious plans for the rally." He added that officials had heard reports of "out-of-state militia groups and hate groups" planning to participate "are coming to intimidate and to cause harm," and that state intelligence analysts had identified threats and rhetoric online similar to the chatter that preceded the August 2017 Charlottesville march that turned deadly. The planned January 20 lobbying day and demonstration are aimed at expressing opposition to a slate of gun control bills in the Virginia legislature. On January 26, it was reported that suspected members of a neo-Nazi group who had obtained guns and discussed traveling to Virginia had been arrested by authorities.
On various social media platforms, among them Facebook, Instagram, 4Chan, and Telegram, there has been some discussion of tactical preparations, hints at violence, and threats. Some individuals are speculating about whether the "boogaloo" that is talked about in these circles will be triggered. A private Facebook group dedicated to the rally, created four weeks ago, has over 102,000 members.
The following report will examine some of the discussions on these platforms ahead of the rally.
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Chatter On Telegram
On January 15, a Telegram channel posted: "After watching the situation in Virginia and other states, it's clear that there will likely not be a peaceful resolution to this ideological rift. The left is never going to willingly leave us alone, or even slow their advance on us. That much is clear. The only 'peaceful' resolution I could envision is one where the remaining right wing white majority states secede and make our own separate country, free of leftist/jewish/nonwhite insanity and parasitism. Even then, we would be separating from them at gunpoint and with the explicit threat that either 1. They will let us peacefully separate without pursing us, and cease their constant attacks, or 2. We will go to war, and left-wing people will cease to exist on the North American continent."
Another Telegram channel linked to a Wikipedia page about a Stingray phone tracker, a surveillance device employed by law enforcement, and stated: "If you intend on going to Richmond, turn off your fucking phone."
On Facebook, a private group created four weeks ago has 103,200 members. On this very active group dedicated to the upcoming rally, members voice concerns and share ideas. Out-of-state supporters are also voicing their support.
An out-of-state supporter from Massachusetts linked to a news article about the gun control bills in the Virginia Senate and wrote: "Governor Northam and the virginian senators are going to get themselves publicly executed and I'm all for it."
Chatter On 4Chan
On 4Chan, the image-based bulletin board where users are anonymous, a January 16 discussion on the rally focused on the question "Do you want shit to go down in Virginia or would you rather see it resolved peacefully?" One user replied: "Death and distraction anything less than killing everybody in the capital [sic] building would accomplish nothing." Another wrote: "There is no choice, anon. The plan is to make Charlottesville 2.0 right before the election, no matter what happens, glowies will light this event up. Bring extra ammo, may as well make a show of force."
Another post the same day on 4Chan warned that this rally would be the next Charlottesville: "...You're being rused. Virginia is CVille all over again. You'll pay dearly for ignoring this post and your mother will die in her sleep if you don't reply. You remember when I warned you all about CVille and you fucked up and went forward with it anyways? This entire Virginia 2A LARP [Live Action Role Playing] is the exact same thing. Bottom line: you're being RUSED by the (((usual suspects))). They want violence and they want you to overplay your hands. The (((people in charge))) want you to make a mess so they can well and truly deploy the National Guard (like they did in New Orleans) and confiscate ALL guns from whites... If you brainlets really wanted control and power then you should conquer the industries and institutions of power from the inside, like the Jews did over 100 years ago... You have been officially warned... PS (((christianity))) is Jewish."
Chatter On Instagram
On January 16, an Instagram user shared a tweet enumerating how the protestors' rights would allegedly be violated, and adding: "This is what we call the Charlottesville playbook, folks." They added in a comment: " I'm getting nervous boys. I have a feeling people are gonna die on Monday."
A user suggested: " Carry bolt cutters for the fence." Another said: "Virginia is feeling the full wrath of the leftist agenda. Here in Cali we only have a small percentage of gun owners with balls. I'm planning on attending the rally in Sacramento this coming Monday. I hope all goes well for you guys..." Yet another wrote: "I fully expect the police to start shooting people. It won't end well."
An account popular with circles promoting the idea of "boogaloo" posted on January 15: "A total shutdown of the corporately owned media amidst a tense time might motivatte the average american to get off the couch. Towers are easy to disable."
On January 15, an individual from out of state who frequently posts DIY IED and gun instruction manuals online and is running for the Senate, shared several memes about the upcoming rally. One shows a man on horseback in a gas mask and armed with a lance, and states: "When the Governor of Virginia tries to illegally ban weapons on the Capitol grounds so get a horse and a lance to spike tyrants from a distance."
Another meme posted by this individual shows a man, apparently Gov. Northam, in a hardhat looking bemused, that stated: "Ralph Northam in a few days when he hears the sound of automatic fire inside the governor's mansion: Somethin's Fucky."
On January 15, a user posted a link to a news story about the governor's ban on weapons on Capitol grounds, and wrote: "Get off the internet and show up. Monday will go down in history, whether you like it or not. Do you want to tell your kids that you did something, or you sat back while others stood up? Most importantly, keep a cool head, and choose peace until peace becomes impossible."
On January 14, an individual posted a meme of a man holding aloft Gov. Northam's severed head streaming blood, and wrote: "The Tree of Liberty is thirsty." The reference is to the Thomas Jefferson quote "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
A user posted, on January 15, Gov. Northam's tweet that stated: "We have received credible intelligence from our law enforcement agencies of threats of violence surrounding the demonstration planned for Monday, January 20. This includes extremist rhetoric similar to what has been seen before major incidents such as Charlottesville in 2017." A comment stated: "You got me fucked up if you think I'm complying."
A digitally altered image of Gov. Northam as Hitler was posted on January 15, with the text: "Ralph 'Abortion' Northam is trying and going to start a Civil War in Virginia."
Also on January 15, an individual advised: "Don't be fucking stupid. Have a plan. Don't show up without considering the possibilities. And there are lots of them. Remember your boogaloo tactics. God forbid it gets to that point, but if it does, be smart about how you react to a shots fired situation. Don't go crazy and start shooting at ghosts, or worse, the wrong team. It's quite possible that the state will put plants in the crowd. Actors and state agents to either make us look bad or implode the whole situation. Also, there will be loaded guns, and hundreds or even thousands of them. While most everyone there will be well versed in firearms safety, a negligent discharge either legitimate or intentional by a government plant, is possible. React accordingly, not out of fear."
 Npr.org/2020/01/15/796666321/virginia-governor-declares-state-of-emergency-ahead-of-pro-gun-rally, January 15, 2020.
 Nytimes.com/2020/01/16/us/politics/fbi-arrest-virginia-gun-rally.html, January 16, 2020.
 "Boogaloo" refers to an alleged upcoming civil war, and/or fight against the government.