Earlier this week, as part of his campaign to gaslight the public about the Capitol insurrection, Tucker Carlson tried to claim on his Fox News program that “there’s no evidence white supremacists were responsible for what happened on Jan. 6. That’s a lie.” Of course, the claim was immediately debunked, but that hasn’t prevented Republicans from continuing to lie and mislead the public into believing up is down about the event and its meaning, and for online trolls to continue repeating Carlson’s claim.
Multiple examples abound to prove Carlson a baldfaced liar, but the most striking was revealed this week: An investigation by Bellingcat’s Robert Evans found that Riley Williams, the 22-year-old woman from Pennsylvania who faces multiple charges in the Capitol siege and is suspected of having stolen Nancy Pelosi’s laptop, is the same person who posed in neo-Nazi gear in an online video and made Nazi salutes, all while posting on social media as a white nationalist “Groyper” and participating in a popular neo-Nazi Telegram channel.
The criminal complaint against Williams charges her with obstructing an official proceeding, violent entry on Capitol grounds, and other counts related to her entry into the Capitol and Pelosi’s offices on Jan. 6. Investigators stated her ex-boyfriend showed them videos taken from Williams’ livestream that day appearing to show her examining an HP laptop and taking it, but say they are still investigating the matter. They noted the witness told them Williams intended to sell the laptop to a Russian agent, but the deal had fallen through. The laptop has not been located.
Williams’ attorney has adamantly denied she stole the computer, and has complained she has been vilified, and the accusations against her are “overstated.”
The Bellingcat report, however, made clear Williams was not just a Trump fan who got “carried away,” as her mother tried to tell an interviewer. In the process of identifying her as the woman with her face concealed in the Nazi-salute video, it followed a long trail of evidence of her avid participation in far-right “accelerationist” online spaces, including on Parler and Telegram.
Williams also was a fan of white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes, the youthful leader of “America First” and the so-called “Groyper Army” who was present in the crowd outside the Capitol on Jan. 6. Fuentes had helped lead a “Stop the Steal” protest in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, and Williams had taken a fan shot with him that day, posting it on Twitter: “Thank you Nick!!” she wrote, adding a laughing emoji. “King of America!”
As Evans explains, Williams was particularly active on the Telegram channel of a Texas neo-Nazi named Christopher Pohlhaus, who specializes in accelerationist rhetoric under the nom de plume “The Hammer.” Much of the gear she wore in the Nazi salute video appears to have come from his online store, including the “skull mask” and a ball cap adorned with a Nazi occultist “Sonnenrad” symbol.
Pohlhaus specializes in recruiting young people to the fascist cause. Nazi stickers he sells were used in late 2020 to vandalize the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise, Idaho.
Of course, Williams is far from the only white supremacist to have been involved in the insurrection. Alt-right troll Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet, arrested in January for his role in the siege, helped lead Williams and others in vandalizing Pelosi’s office. The ADL found that among the 212 people charged as of Feb. 17, 10 of them were white nationalist “Groypers,” and another 17 were members of the proto-fascist Proud Boys organization.
Numerous far-right organizations, including an array of white nationalists, were involved in the planning of the insurrection. There were dozens of white supremacist banners and symbols being waved by the crowd that day, including a Confederate flag that was paraded around inside the Capitol, as well as various alt-right flags and other white nationalist symbols. One man, Robert Packer, was seen in a “Camp Auschwitz” T-shirt, a reference to the wartime Nazi death camps.
"White supremacists and rebranded alt-right rioters were assuredly there, but there was also a wide variety of other insurrectionists present who share a set of unifying grievances with hardened bigots, who do not necessarily buy into full-blown white supremacy," Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, told the Poynter Institute.