Violent rhetoric circulates pro-Trump internet after FBI raid, including that of Jan 6 rioter

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Other messages were more explicit, “I’m just going to say it. [Attorney General Merrick] Garland must be murdered. It’s as simple as that.” Another user posted, “kill all the feds.”

Users also encouraged others to post the address of the judge they believe signed the search warrant. “I see a rope around his neck,” read a comment below a photo of the judge.

On the same forum, researchers have previously found talking about violence and discussing how to attack police officers in the weeks leading up to the January 6, 2021 attack.

Among the forum users on Monday night was a convicted United States Capitol rioter.

A reply to the top rated “lock and load” post came from an account with the username bananaguard62 and asked “Aren’t we in a cold civil war at this point?”

While combing through messages from bananaguard62, Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that conducts public interest investigations, identified Tyler Welsh Slaeker as responsible for the account.

Slaeker was charged by the Justice Department last summer in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. Slaeker’s in-laws informed the FBI of his presence at the Capitol, according to court documents, making him one of several Jan. 6 rioters who were reported by family members.

He was initially charged with four non-violent misdemeanors and pleaded guilty in June to one count of entering a restricted building. His sentencing is scheduled for November.

BNC News was the first to report Advance Democracy’s findings on Slaeker. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It can be difficult to distinguish between empty and serious threats of violence online, but it can’t be ignored, said Daniel J. Jones, a former US Senate investigator who led the investigation into the use of torture by the CIA and now runs Advance Democracy, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that conducts public interest investigations.

“We are seeing conspiratorial rhetoric from elected officials, political leaders and political artists that fuels calls for violence in the real world,” Jones said. “The conspiratorial and divisive rhetoric – from elected officials and others who should know better – continues to undermine our institutions and our democracy at an alarming rate.”

A congressional security official told CNN shortly after the search warrant was announced Monday night, US Capitol police began discussions about monitoring and planning for potential violent rhetoric.

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Of particular concern is the potential for violence directed at members of Congress or other federal law enforcement, the security official said.

Capitol police declined to comment on security plans.

A post found by CNN called for violence against FBI agents. The FBI declined to comment on the release or broader security concerns due to harsh rhetoric.

After the Jan. 6 attack, alternative social media platforms grew more popular among Trump supporters after companies like Facebook and Twitter banned Trump and other prominent figures who spread election conspiracy theories.

These platforms, like Trump’s own Truth Social site, present themselves as bastions of free speech, with looser rules and moderation. But this can lead to the proliferation of violent rhetoric. CNN reported in June how threats against members of the Jan. 6 House Select Committee circulated on those platforms.

But talking about violence isn’t exclusive to more fringe platforms.

'Hang 'em all': Members of the January 6 committee are the target of violent speeches on right-wing social networks
There was an increase in tweets on Monday mentioning the “Civil War” – at times, more than one tweet per second, according to a CNN review of data from Dataminr, a service that tracks Twitter activity. While some mentions of “civil war” have come from critics of Trump expressing fear of what his supporters might do – a the researcher posted several screenshots of Twitter accounts outright calling for civil war.

Jones, whose Advance Democracy group has been monitoring online threats since Monday’s FBI raid, said political leaders posting to their main social media accounts were fueling more violent rhetoric.

“The attack on the Capitol on January 6 showed that we cannot ignore calls for political violence online — no matter how fringe the theories behind those calls for violence are,” Jones said.

CNN’s Whitney Wild and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.

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