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tv   Frontline  KQED  April 13, 2021 10:00pm-11:31pm PDT

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>> who's our president?! trump's our president! fight for trump! >> narrator: they stormed the capitol. >> ty were hostile, they were venomous, that their country somehow was being taken away from them. >> narrator: and plotted to kidnap a govnor. >> a terror plot to kidnap governor gretchen whitmer. >> and so, you think the guys were planning to arrest her? >> it was going to be a citizen's arrest. >> narrator: correspondent a.c. thompson investigates the long road to where we are today. >> it was a point in my life where like if i met you, i would need to know what race you were. you're dark enough, i would need to know. >> narrator: how these violent groups have become part of the
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political landscape. >> you've had a pandemic, people who have lost jobs, people who questioned the legitimacy of elections... this was blood in the water, and became a feeding frenzy. we definitely are the modern militia. we're the ones crazy enough to actually do something. >> the pentagon has ordered a military wide stand down to root out extremism within its ranks... >> president biden directs law enforcement to study the urging threat. >> domestic violent extremism is one of the number one threats to this country. >> narrator: with the biden administration promising to crack down on domestic extremism. >> i can just tell you that this administration sees this as a top priority. we're going to do everything we can to address it. >> narrator: now on frontline, in collaboration with propublica and us berkeley investigative reporting program - american insurrection. >> you really do need that presidential level leadership saying, “this is a threat. we are gonna use all of our tools to go after this threat.” >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.
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thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major support is provided by the ford foundation: working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. additional support is provided by the abrams foundation, committed to excellence in journalism... the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler and additional support form koo and patricia yuen. “support for “american insurrection” is provided by the wnet group's “exploring hate” initiative with principal support by the following: and additional major funding from... with additional support from... corporate support for frontline is provided by... >> hi, i'm ryan reynolds owner of mint mobile. we're big fands of pbs, so this message will be delivered documentary style. since america's founding, people have struggled with communication plans. they called the pony express too
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slow making ponies everywhere feel like *horse sound*, but times have changed. mint mobile offers no contract wireless plans unlimited talk and text, nationwide 5g coverage, and customers can bring their own phone. no ponies were harmed in making of this wireless company. >> a.c. thompson: january 7, 2021. washington's streets are quiet, tense. soldiers stand watch around the perimeter of the u.s. capitol. inside, the halls are deserted. new members of congress should be settling into their offices. but instead, furniture is stacked in doorways.
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it's hard to believe that just yesterday, these halls were flooded with pro-trump rioters and that today, four people are dead. this is how the trump presidency ends. it's shocking. yet there had also been warning signs. i wonder, what form will these violent energies take now? to find an answer, i feel like i have to go back to the beginning. ♪ ♪ if the trump presidency ended with an insurrection at the capitol, for me, it began here, in charlottesville, virginia, waiting on a darkened campus for the torches to arrive. >> (chanting): you will not replace us! you will not replace us! >> thompson: i'd been reporting the rise in hate crimes and
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america's resurgent white supremacist movement. and that led me here. >> you will noreplace us! you will not replace us! >> thompson: the rally was caed "unite the right.” white supremacists out in the open, unafraid, and soon violent. (indistinct chatter) the next morning, i followed a group of clergy to the rally. the white supremacists were returning. and counter-protesters were arriving to challenge them. >> no hate, no fear! white supremacists not welcome here! >> thompson: the white supremacists came prepared to fight, bringing guns and knives and bats and shields. they attacked people who tried to block their path, leaving them bloodied on the pavement the violence kept escalating while the police looked on. just want to let you know there's been all kinds of crazy violence over here.
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pepper spray, people beating each other with sticks. we're trying to figure out if the police are going to intervene to stop that or if it's just going to keep going on. >> well, we've all got different assignments to try to maintain some sort of order here. so that's what we're focusing on right now. >> thompson: alongside the neo-nazis and white nationalists were militias and members of a group we would all come to know, the proud boys. its current leader was there that day. (shouting) i had never seen white supremacists gather in such large numbers. (shouting) but looking back now, charlottesville feels like a prelude of what was to come. anger. hatred. bloodshed. (screaming) a neo-nazi, james alex fields, slammed his car into the crowd, injuring dozens and killing
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32-year-old heather heyer. >> i always wondered, "was she afraid? (sighs) did she see him coming?" dear god, i would love to have my daughter back. >> thompson: for you, what ds justice for heather look like? i don't know. nothing's gonna bring heather back. those of us who miss her, miss her... forever. >> thompson: james alex fields is the person who's been prosecuted for heather's murder. in your mind, is he the only person who should be held accountable? >> no, for people from 35 states to come in to fight, that's absolutely absurd. >> you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were... very fine people, on both sides.
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>> thompson: at the time, trump had only been president for seven months but his response set the tone for the next three years. and many on the far right took his words as a sign of support. >> wait a minute, i'm not finished. i'm not finished, fake news. that was a horrible day. i watched those very closely-- much more closely than you people watched it. and you have-- you had a group on one side that was bad. and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. and nobody wants to say that, but i'll say it right now. (rain pattering) >> thompson: james fields was eventually sentenced to life in prison. but in the immediate aftermath of charlottesville, only a handful of others were arrested. i kept asking law enforcement what was going on. i got your message saying that basically we should look at the facebook and twitter posts you put out, but we have questions that go beyond that. had everyone else just blended back into society?
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like i said, i'm just trying to figure out how many, how many folks have been prosecuted, and how ma cases might still be in the pipeline. so, we began trying to locate the people ourselves. ♪ ♪ >> there were a couple of guys in these few shots that we weren't able to identify. i wonder who he is. 'cause he looks like he's part of ram. >> thompson: oh yeah, he's definitely a ram person. over the next year, we tracked down some of the most violent individuals in charlottesvle. look, he's got his right hand taped up. >> yeah >> thompson: andhen the, definitely the guy in charlottesville has at least one hand taped up. >> right hand. >> thompson: i wonder if his left hand is as well. my colleagues and i matched our footage with images from far-right rallies across the country, we gained access to encrypted chat logs, and developed sources inside extremist networks. our reporting led us to groups that had been in charlottesville, including the rise above movement, or ram-- a white power fight club.
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hey, mike how you doing? they had also been linked to multiple attacks in california. i wanted to talk to you about what you were doing in charlottesville last year. >> uh, sorry i don't know anything about that, man. >> thompson: but you were there, you're on camera, you're on photos. >> no, i, i think you got the wrong guy. >> thompson: hey, do northrup and ucla know you're involved with the rise above movement? >> gotta go, man. >> thompson: michael miselis was a ram member we'd seen punching a protestor in the face in charlottesville. but miselis was more than just a street fighter-- he had a government security clearance, and worked for the defense contractor northrup grumman. as we looked further, we found other white supremacists and neo-nazis with ts to the military, some of them on active duty. it was a problem that would continue to grow in the coming years, despite calls to root it out. >> the president has to be very clear about the unacceptability of these-- any extremists,
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including these white supremacist extremists acquiring the best military training in the world. >> thompson: keith ellison, then a congressman from minnesota, had seen our reporting and wrote to the pentagon demanding it take action. >> since we wrote that letter, we have been in verbal contact with the military that they're responding to our letter, we expect to have it soon, but we have not yet seen it. >> thompson: we've identified seven members of one neo-nazi group who are current or former military. at do you make of that? >> well, i think that they have decided this is a strategic initiative for them. they, they want their people to go intthe military. there's a real legitimate fear here, and i think that we've got to be vigilant about it. >> thompson: the d.o.d. eventually told ellison it had investigated the people we'd ided, and had fired or disciplined 18 service members. >> i think one thing we can do is tshine a light on this, because when we get some light on it, then somebody somewhere is going to say, okay, this
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needs to become a priority. and so that's what we're going to do. ♪ ♪ >> thompson: a year after charlottesville, the spotlight was on. >> we are here today to announce the arrest of four members of the militant white supremacist group known as the rise above movement. >> thompson: the fbi arrested more people who'd been at unite the right, including michael miselis, who lost his job at northrop grumman and spent about a year in prison. it felt like our reporting had helped to expose some of the most dangerous figures in the white supremacist scene. i began receiving death threats even as the groups splintered, changed their names, and were hit with lawsuits. but one group did continue to take to the streets-- participating in rallies in portland, oregon-- the proud boys. >> (chanting): usa! usa! usa! >> thompson: they had black and latino members, and wanted to distance themselves from the
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white supremacist movement. they seemed mostly interested in drinking, fighting, and supporting trump. >> (chanting): usa! usa! >> thompson: so what's your deal, man, why-- why are you here? >> i'm here to stand up for freedom. >> thompson: they faced off against members of antifa. >> they've got one ideology over there, and these guys have a freedom-loving ideology. >> thompson: what do you think the ideology is over there? >> it's communism. >> thompson: they claimed they were defending the u.s. from some sort of communist takeover and they wore shirts celebrating pinochet, the chilean fascist dictator. tell me about your t-shirt. what's with-- what are you saying here? >> it says what it says. >> thompson: what do you mean by that? you're down for fascism is that, is that what you're saying? some wore patches that said rwds-- right wing death squad. fights broke out sporadically. but that march in portland would be the last i'd see of the proud boys for a while.
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i was drawn away to other stories. >> (over radio): we're under fire, we're under fire, he's got an automatic weapon, he's firing out of the front of... >> thompson: there was the attack on the tree of life synagogue in october 2018 that left 11 jewish worshippers dead. >> 7-1, suspecs talking about... >> thompson: and in august 2019 a gunman who'd ranted about a hispanic invasion opened fire in an el paso walmart, killing 23 people. horrific hate crimes, carried out not by extremist groups, but by individuals. but then, in january 2020, something different caught my eye. (distant cheers) a rally in richmond, virginia. 22,000 people turned out to protest the state's new gun laws. many of them were mainstream conservatives, but among the crowd were also militia members, white supremacists, and proud
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boys. i wondered if the energies from charlottesville were gathering again. >> (chanting): drain the swamp! ♪ ♪ >> thompson: the rally had been organized on facebook and i found someone who monitors right wing groups on social media. >> i'm a computer scientist, my background's in data mining and data science, so that means using, y know, facts and figures, names, dates, photos, dollar amounts, just all that good stuff, and then we look for patterns in that data. >> thompson: megan squire tracked the decline of far-right groups after charlottesville. >> charlottesville was incredibly disruptive to these groups. it started everything from infighting amongst themselves, all the arrests that happened afterwards, and then the lawsuits were just absolutely devastating for these groups. >> thompson: but not every group suffered from the backlash. some, like the proud boys, survived and grew. >> there were some that, that escaped unscathed.
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they evaded, um, really responsibility and scrutiny after unite the right and then you know came up to rear their ugly heads much later. >> thompson: examining 8,000 facebook accounts affiliated with the proud boys, squire found that many proud boys also belonged to white supremacist or fascist groups. in squire's research, one individual stands out-- brien james, the leader of the indiana chapter of the proud boys. brien's in this group and this is, like, the most hardcore white supremacist that you're gonna find out there. >> yeah. >> thompson: we've got the national socialist movement represented here. we've got, um... pro-hitler groups. we've got all kinds of real crazy stuff. >> this is a anti-muslim group. here's an anti-immigrant group. >> thompson: brien james was a key node in squire's map of the proud boys. he's been involved with some of the most extreme movements
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of the last three decades-- the klan, an anti-government militia, and a neo-nazi gang called the outlaw hammerskins. in 2003 he became the leader of his own gang called the vinlanders social club. i pull court records in indiana. i don't find any cases for james, but members of his gang have been convicted in a string of beatings and homicides. i'm surprised and a little nervous when he agrees to meet me, and talk openly about his past as a skinhead leader. >> i was kind of a dictator there and i had a much smaller network of people, but there was no state in the united states i could travel to where i di have a place to stay, there was no shortage of... you know, women involved in it, you know, we had... it was guys who would kill for you in a second. so there-- you know, i never got caught or... i was arrested and charged with some pretty bad things in my life, but i got a lawyer and beat all the cases. >> thompson: james claims he
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left the white power movement behindears ago. >> there was a point in my life where like, if i met you, i would need to know what race you are, you're dark enough, i would need to know. you know, i would obviously-- he's not white, and that would have an impact on how i viewed him. >> thompson: i've met people who've left the white supremacist movement before. most of them go out of their way to express remorse for the people they've harmed, the things that they've done. i don't hear a lot of that from james. >> i haven't flipped over to the left, i haven't gotten-- it's not like i've changed, it's just that doesn't matter. it certainly doesn't matter as much as other things. ideology is the primary motivating factor to me and whether or not the country is going to turn out okay or not. >> thompson: but james was there in charlottesville at unite the right, marching alongside nazis and white nationalists. i ask him why, as a man who had supposedly abandoned the white power movement, he was so willing to work with avowed racists. >> i think most people look back on charlottesville as a mistake, and i do, i mean, we certainly
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didn't need those guys, we certainly didn't gain anything from working with those guys, especially after i had left. i thought we were doing something positive, and obviously that day turned out to be a horrible disaster and the impact of people who was there, was pretty severe after it was over, so i thought all right. >> thompson: people went to prison, people left the movement. >> people lost their jobs, people were de-platformed off of the public forum, people were financially de-platformed. >> thompson: james doesn't mention the killing of heather heyer or the people murdered by his former gang. but he does spend a lot of time talking about his new ideology, which he calls civic nationalism, a label adopted by many proud boys. >> thompson: and as a civic nationalist, what are your issues? what are your bedrock beliefs? >> individual liberty and adhering to the constitution as much as possible, um... i don't like this climate where we take away accountability, where we try to force equality
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of outcomes, instead of equal opportunity. i don't like cancel culture and political correctness to a large extent. people see the left is taking over and moving society in a certain direction. so, we're just the ones that are the tip of the spear out standing up for that physically. >> thompson: james tells me that by focusing on political enees instead of racial ones, he'd gained more support. >> i mean, i've been doing what i'm doing he for 30 years, and there's normally five, ten guys in the city, maybe 20 in the state. i have 200 right now. >> thompson: wow. >> yeah. >> thompson: he'd also found a powerful new ally in trump. >> well, you've got a guy who's a nationalist in the most powerful seat in the world. i mean, we've got a guy who's, you know, at least 75, 80, 90% on our side, and he's the president, there's no reason at that point to be... an extremist. >> thoson: you've been involved in right-wing movements for decades now, what was the time period that you found
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yourself having the most hope for real change? >> now. >> thompson: now? >> yeah. ♪ ♪ >> thompson: after my conversation with brien james, i check in with a longtime source of mine, pete simi. simi helped me understand ram and the other groups in charlottesville, and he's continued to track the white supremacist movement. i just interviewed a guy named brien james. have you ever come across this guy? >> oh sure, yeah, he was, escially during his time as the vinlander, he was a big name on the radar and, you know, really associated with a lot of violence. the vinlander, the vinlanders in general were known to be a very volatile, violent group that, you know, they had a guy whose nickname was "the butcher," and so, i mean this is... >> thompson: this is the guy with "murder" tattooed on his throat? >> yeah, right, right. so, i mean, there was a number of very violent incidents they were involved in. >> thompson: simi says that while the proud boys may have worked hard to push into the mainstream, many still subscribe to extremist beliefs.
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>> so, this is, you know, a t-shirt in reference to the mass slaughter of jewish people during the holocaust, that stands for "six million wasn't enough." their view is not to deny the holocaust, but to say the holocaust didn't go far enough. >> thompson: and so, he's flying proud boys' colors, and these clearly neo-nazi ideas here. you know, we get fixated on all these different groups out there, and in, from my perspective, i think it's more helpful to think aut this as a broad worldview. >> thompson: the proud boys are led by enrique tarrio, he's this guy who is a cuban american, man of color. >> mm-hmm. >> thompson: what's going on with that do you think? >> if you look at, for instance, the history of the racist skinhead movement in the united states, any number of different racist skinhead crews across the country, they wouldn't be exclusively white necessarily. you have, you know, the capacity for people of-of various different backgrounds tombrace
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fascism as an ideology, as a worldview, and, and i think in many respects that's what we're dealing with here is a broad fascist movement. (waves splashing) >> i will fight to protect you. i am your president of law and order... >> thompson: in the summer of 2020, i watched as president trump rallied that movement, in response to the protests after the killing of george floyd. >> our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, antifa, and others. >> thompso the proud boys heard president ump's rhetoric as a call to action. they joined other right-wing vigilantes in attacking the protesrs. (panicked shouting) the unrest had become a focal point of trump's re-election campaign. >> if biden gets in, they will have won, they will have taken over your cities. these are not acts of peaceful protests, but really domestic terror.
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>> thompson: one incident in particular would be blamed on antifa and become a target of the president's rage-- a drive-by shooting in may at the oakland federal building. >> a federal officer in california was shot and killed. the destruction of innocent life, and the spilling of innocent blood is an offense to humanity. >> if you don't think that we have been under attack from domestic terrorists, let me show you a picture of one victim. this is patrick underwood. >> thompson: the shooting was nothing like the street violence i'd been seeing, and i started looking into it. i went to see officer underwood's sister. >> literally, as i think about him, i think about him lying on the concrete... shot and alone. and the concrete is cold. i... it's, it's, it's been horrific for us. and at the same time it feels like we're constantly, you know, reliving it over and over again.
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so there's, uh, it's hard to say that we've had closure because we haven't. >> thompson: mm-hmm. >> and, uh, and actually, i don't know if we ever will. that's the tough part. at first there was outrage and anger and then i'm, and then i went to sadness in hoping that we were going to find the people that murdered my brother in cold blood. >> thompson: how did you get the news? >> i received a phone call at approximately, maybe 4:00, 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. his fiancée stacy said, "angela, pat's been shot. pat's been shot." and, um, after that, i'm not quite sure what happened. 'cause i don't know... i, i can't remember if the screaming was, was from me or if it was from her.
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and it was just a bit hazy, a bit foggy, because you go completely to a state of denial. "are you sure? it can't be, what do you mean?" you go through all of those things trying to find some type of logic in an illogical situation. >> thompson: i see photos from the night of the attack. security cameras traed a white van moving through the darkened streets of oakland. the door slid open and a gunman ed fire on a guard post in front of the federal building. but the man arrested by law enforcement didn't end up being antifa. his name was steven carrillo, a 32-year-old air force staff sergeant. he represented a new, more deadly wave of far-right violence. >> in the surveillance footage, what you can see is the side of the van door just starts slowly opening up and by the middle of the intersection, the shots begin to fire-- he's on the side of the van. >> thompson: okay. >> facing this way, shooting at
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the guard post. >> thompson: kathryn hurd is part of a team at the uc berkeley investigative reporting program. we've been working with them on this story. wow, still bullet holes here. >> yeah, so as you can see, there's still remains on the... >> thompson: looks like there's three. >> yeah, there's actually one right here as well, but if you actually look on the wall back there, there are more bullet marks. >> thompson: what was the kind of weapon that he was using? what do we know about that? >> so he was using an ar-15 rifle, it's fully automatic, uh, and as you can see from the bullet remains that are both on this guard post and slightly behind it on the wall, that thing got off at least ten rounds. >> thompson: and it was a ghost gun, right? >> it was a ghost gun, it was unmarked, it... >> thompson: so no serial number? >> no serial number, which suggests that it was privately assembled. >> thompson: meaning he put it together or somebody put it together for him? >> somebody put it together for him, or from the fbi complaints, but it sounds like is that he was building his own weapons. >> thompson: you've got a generic white ford van, no license plate, a gun that doesn't have serial numbers on it with a real common caliber bullet, nine millimeter, and
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basically it is a mystery at that point with not a lot of clues. >> exactly-- i mean, people just don't have anything to go off of, they took off into the night down the street and no one was able to catch them. >> thompson: the gunmen disappeared and the trail nt cold for a week. then here, in the woods of santa cruz county, some 80 miles away, a worker made a startling discovery. >> he was setting some game cameras up in the forest, and came across this van. and he looked in it, and reported that it had some bomb-making equipment. there was no license plate on the van, but, but there was a vin number. and it came back to the carrillo residence. >> thompson: sheriff jim hart says his deputies along with highway patrol went to carrillo's house, up this winding mountain road. >> these are very, uh, remote isolated areas, the topographies were very steep. sergeant gutzwiller and alex spencer get to the house. when they did, they're down on the roadway below the house,
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when the shot was fired. carrillo was putting a lot of rounds down stream, and he was maybe 40 feet away, from a position of cover. our people couldn't even see where he was at. then alex spencer stood up and spun to engage, up the hillside, and alex got shot. and then, a few seconds after that, a pipe bomb exploded near him, and he was hit with some shrapnel from that as well. they then engaged him in a gun fight. officer estey was shot in the hand. they were able to put a round into carrillo's abdomen, and then carrillo fled down a hillside. i think he was intent on shooting police that day, so i, i think he was gonna come to the command post. ♪ ♪ >> thompson: after killing officer damon gutzwiller, police say that carrillo escaped in a stolen car. he later left it at a roadblock and continued on foot. >> all of a sudden i hear some
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cries for help. >> help, help! >> thompson: clara ricabal arrived on the scene by chance and began filming with her cellphone. >> he had blood on his leg and so, i mean, i knew that was the guy that they were looking for. >> thompson: she saw a local resident, a man she calls "the hero" wrestle carrillo to the ground. >> it's the guy! >> how do you know? (indistinct talking) pipe bomb, there's a (no audio) gun, pistol right there, holy... >> you want me to hold your dog? >> no stay back, there's a gun right there by your feet. >> oh! >> thompson: the hero grabbed him, took him to the ground. >> mm-hmm, and the gun flew. >> thompson: the rifle flies off at that point. >> uh-huh, and then he reaches in, i think, his chest area and he grabs a pipe bomb. and then the hero knocks that out like chuck norris... (chuckles) and it flies and then when he grabbed the pistol, i believe it was in his boot, and, then when he held it to his head, that's when-- >> thompson: so carrillo had the gun to the hero's head. >> mm-hmm. >> thompson: wow. >> please, you guys! >> hey, we are holding him on
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the ground right here. >> there's a gun, please! he's gonna get up, there's only two people holding him down! he's on the ground... and the machine gun or the rifle, whatever, is right over here. >> two guns and a pipe bomb. (indistinct talking) >> oh my god, i'm choking. you can see the pipe bomb over here, it had landed on a step. and i guess the pistol was over here. >> thompson: when it was all over, steven carrillo had allegedly killed two officers and seriously injured two others. but why? >> (on phone): the police are the guard dogs, you know, ready to attack whenever the owner says "hey, you know, sic 'em, boy." >> the first interview with steven carrillo was 20 minutes long, and, that second one lasted for an hour-and-a-half. >> thompson: so you've spoken to him for almost two hours.
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>> yeah. >> thompson: gisela perez de acha is one of our reporting partners at uc berkeley. carrillo spoke to her from jail, where he is awaiting trial. she is the only journalist to have interviewed him. >> (on phone): the police is, it's the government's strong arm, basically. >> thompson: before he was captured, carrillo wrote messages in his own blood, including a single word that would be the key to all the chaos: boog. >> (on phone): what the boogaloo is, is a revolution, revolutionary thought... >> thompson: carrillo told perez de acha that he was part of the militant movement called the boogaloo bois. >> (on phone): the boogaloo movement? it's about people that love freedom, liberty, and they're unhappy with the level of control that the government takes over our lives. being free to do what you want as long as you don't hurt anyone else.
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>> aren't you accused of hurting someone? >> oh, that's, you know, that's what i'm accused of. but, uh, yeah so, back to the example... that's what i wanted to get to, you know, the freedom of choice, the freedom of expression. >> thompson: carrillo has pleaded not guilty and he wouldn't answer questions about the shootings. did you find it hard to get him to actually... >> it was so hard, it was so hard-- he would just deny and skirt every question. how did you come to this? how did you... because you said you didn't read a lot before. >> (on phone): basically, uh, through... friends, friends, you know, the air force. once i joined the air force, you know, i traveled around the world, i met people from all over the world. and just talking to people changed my whole views. >> thompson: so do you think that he's saying that he fnd these radical ideas in the
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military? >> yeah, i think, mainly from my conversations with him, i think he's definite-- definitely radicalized at the air force. (on phone): i love my country. there's not a day that goes by that, you know, i don't miss putting on the uniform, the air force uniform, and going to work and doing my part. >> thompn: once again, just as after charlottesville, i was seeing an extremist inside the military. and bad on the berkeley team's reporting, carrillo was far from alone. >> we matched their photo on their facebook with the air force website. >> thompson: the team identified at least 15 active duty airmen openly promoting boogaloo content on facebook. like carrillo, eight of them served in the air force security branch. >> it was kind of substantiating this relationship we had already been digging into between the military and military experience, and this so-called boogaloo movement. we started to puthe pieces together and say, "okay these
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military experience who are going out, and you know, creati violence and noise in, on behalf of this movement." >> thompson: so was steven carrillo part of a local or regional chapter or cell or militia-- what was the deal? >> yeah, we know that he was a part of a local militia group called the grizzly scouts. >> thompson: so did steven ever train with these guys? did he meet up with them? >> he did, they had two meetings. the first was on april 25. and when you think about it, that's only six weeks before the alleged oakland shooting. >> thompson: right. >> and the second time was in may 9. >> thompson: so right before the shooting. >> right before that, yeah. >> thompson: and what was your sense of their ideology? >> the movement's decentralized, anyone can call themselves a boogaloo boy, just because there's a group of boogaloo bois who say, you know, we're colorblind, you know, look at, you know, these people who affiliate with our group who are not white, doesn't mean that there aren't whit supremacists who affiliate with the boogaloo movement. they're very much so fluid in a sense.
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>> ultimately the "bgaloo" means a violent insurrection. like ultimately, whatever the spectrum you're in as a boogaloo boy, you are wishing and actively pushing for a violent insurrection. >> i think in steven carrillo's case, what's really interesting is if you saw some of the posts he was putting on facebook prior to that event, he was, you know, like, "let's use these protests to our advantage, let's go out and sort of use this moment to capitalize on it." >> thompson: the air force wouldn't comment on carrillo or the other members of the service we identified as connected to the boogaloo bois. ♪ ♪ they said the fbi was leading the investigation. i kept reporting on the movement, trying to figure out its reach and capabilities. ♪ ♪ outwardly, they're quirky-- hawaiian shirts, igloo patches, and ironic memes.
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their ideology is all over the map: i find a boogaloo telegram channel filled with neo-nazi propaganda, and another one filled with statements denouncing systemic racism. but there is one unifying idea: the desire for a violent insurrection. least nine men linked to thet group who'd been arrested on weapons and explosives charges. one allegedly planned to execute a police officer and livestream it on facebook. another one, a man named ivan hunter, was charged with shooting up a police precinct in minneapolis. he pleaded not guilty, but court records show an online chat between hunter and steven carrillo: "go for police buildings," hunter says. carrillo resnds just hours after the killing of the federal officer in oakland, "i did better lol." >> what's up, everyone? this is another episode of flintlock faction.
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i am your host jay flintlock... >> thompson: this episode uploadedour weeks before officer underwood was gunned down in oakland, gleefully advocates drive by shootings. >> ...his presence, guerrilla instructor-- what's up, dude? >> (laughs) uh, nothing much man, just glad to be here... >> thompson: host jay flintlock, who claims to be a current national guardsman, chats with his guest, who says he's a former soldier. they discuss carrying out an insurrection. >> lot of regular infantry guys, cav scouts, uh, you know, mps, we've never done insurgency-type things, but we need to develop those taics. i think we're gonna see a lot more sabotage and assassination. >> this is all hypothetical. for now. >> oh, purely pothetical, in minecraft. >> we-- we love cops, um, we love them so much. >> thompson: this episode, uploaded three weeks before officer underwood was gunned down in oakland, gleefully advocates drive-by shootings. >> you know, i saw, i saw on on your page, uh, "how to perform a drive-by shooting," and i was like, man that's some real gangsta (no auido) right there. (laughs)
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>> i believe honestly that drive bys will be our greatest tool because its very easy to teach, it's, hey, you know, let's get three guys in an suv, roll up on this target, shoot it up, kill two dudes and run off. >> right. >> thompson: i don't know if steven carrillo ever heard flintlock faction. but the similarities between the podcast and the shootings in oakland are haunting. but john bennett-- a recently retired agent who oversaw the investigation-- agrees to meet with me. he tells me he's become increasingly concerned about the boogaloo bois. >> they were a very obscure group, um, that all of a sudden, you know, came on, came on the, uh, on the radar. you know, while i understood skinheads and neo-nazis and ms-13 and, and isis and all, all the, you know, groups that are violent around the world, boogaloo? and, and, the whole, the whole term just seemed, um, you know, nonsensical. so you'll see a lot of them carry, you'll see a lot of them in their hawaiian shirts because
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that is, you know, part of their uniform. but generally, there is a lot of wannabe. they wanna go out and they're gonna go camping and they're gonna do, um, you know, they're gonna go paint balling, so they can get their tactics down, and it's really a bunch of kids playing army, you know, at's the easiest thing i can relate it to. >> thompson: right. >> except some of them have taken it, "no kidding, we're gonna go ahead and put live rounds in our guns, and we're gonna, we're gonna do something that's, that's gonna be terrible and impact people's lives." they wanna be the instigators, the, the frontline of, of the civil war that's gonna happen in, in this country, and they're convinced, "we're gonna be ready and we're gonna be the ones that are gonna survive." >> thompson: i need to see the movement for myself. i go to virginia, where a boogaloo cell is marching against a local gun ordinance. fifty protesters show up. they have body armor, assault rifles and outlawed high capacity magazines.
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they carry igloo flags and wear hawaiian shirts and ironic patches. the group is led by mike dunn. >> thompson: so how you feeling about today? >> liberty shall not be infringed. >> thompson: has this been a success in your mind? >> liberty shall not be infringed. >> thompson: dunn postures like a seasoned squad leader. but this doesn't look like a group that's going to lead a violent insurrection. i can see the threat they pose though-- the boogaloo bois have demonstrated the potential to carry out acts of violence. some in law enforcement and the intelligence community also saw this threat over the past year. but i've been told their concerns were rejected by the white house. >> among the counterterrorism community, we took it very seriously, but you really do need that presidential level leadership saying, "this is a threat, we are gonna use all of our tools to go after this threat"-- that never happened under trump. >> thompson: elizabeth neumann
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was one of the top counterterrosm officials in the trump administration. she says she tried to warn the white house about the rising threat of far right extremists, but the president and his allies claimed the real threat was from black lives matter and antifa. >> does antifa exist? it's not an organization, it's a movement. you have groups of people that associate with them. do they show up at protests? sure. is it a massive conspiracy to overthrow the u.s. government and kill a lot of people? no. you know, where that is? it's on the right, it's in the white supremacist movement. it's in the anti-government militia movement. it's in the boogaloo boy movement. it's not in the anti-fascist moveme. >> thompson: neumann says she watched with alarm as president trump didn't just ignore the threat of domestic extremism, he incited it. >> he attacked the governor of michigan, he attacked the governor of virginia for their pandemic mitigation measures, and was using rhetoric like, "you gotta take youryour state back, you gotta push back against your governor." now, not all of them are going to radicalize, not all of them
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are going to commit an act of violence. but that is a huge pool of people to be vulnerable. meanwhil we have active white supremacist organizations, neo-nazis, um, we have a boogaloo bois movement looking for ways to attack our country, ways to commit acts of violence. >> thompson: neumann resigned in frustrationrom dhs in april 2020. by october, her warnings seemed to be coming true. police and federal agents arrested 14 militia members, charging them with ploing to kidnap michigan governor gretchen whitmer, try her in their own court, and potentially execute her for treason. >> we've had a big problem with the young... a woman governor from... you know who i'm talking abt, from michigan. >> thompson: for months trump had been railing against the governor and her covid
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restrictions. and even after the plot was revealed, his attacks continued. >> you got to get your governor to open up your state, okay? >> lock her up! lock her up! >> lock 'em all up. >> thompson: a kidnapping plot against a sitting governor. it was a shocking escalation in tactics. not long after the arrests, i went to michigan to investigate. the fbi identified the militia behind the plot as the wolverine watchmen. their social media is full of boogaloo iconography and law enforcement has connected them to militia members in at least four states. among the people arrested for the kidnapping plot were joe morrison and his father-in-law, pete musico-- the founders of the wolverine watchmen-- and barry croft, who prosecutors call "probably the most committed violent extremist of the entire group."
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according to the fbi, the plotters convened secret meetings at this vacuum store in grand rapids. an fbi informant recorded the conversations. they met in this basement. in one recording, a member of the group describes a plan to seize the governor from her vacation home and put her on trial. "snatch and grab," he tells the informant. "grab the governor. because at that point, it's over." i wanted to know more about the wolverine watchmen, about how far their network went. >> usa! usa! usa! usa! >> thompson: i hear that several militias will be gathering at a rally in a suburb of grand rapids. i decide to show up. even so soon after the arrests, militia members seem undaunted.
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they march in the streets, openly supporting the alleged plotters and condemning the governor. >> this governor tries to control us, trampling all over our god-given individual liberties. >> thompson: the militia doing security today is missing two of its members-- the null brothers-- who were charged as part of the kidnapping plot. >> militia members are being arrested and stripped of the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. and i can't speak for all of them, but i know two of them, because two of them have stood right beside me at these very events. and i feel a heck of a lot safer when they're around me. >> free the nulls! >> yeah, free the null brothers. exactly. (applause) >> ...still walking around. >> whitmer's still walking around. what are you talking about? >> lock her up! lock her up! lock her up! lock her up! >> hey, careful, you guys say that out loud, they're going try to arrest you for attempting to
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kidnap her too. >> lock her up! lock her up! lock her up! >> thompson: they weren't just angry, they considered the governor's covid restrictions criminal. and the state's republicans were even preparing articles of impeachment that effect. >> people are getting really mad at what she's done, they have found out is illegal, and she should be arrested and nothing's being done. >> thompson: and so you think the wolverine watchmen and the other guys were planning to arrest her? you think that's what was going on? >> yeah. yes. it was going to be a citizen's arrest. >> thompson: you think there's a lot of people that feel that way in michigan? >> oh yeah, oh yeah. people are upset. they're very, very upset at whitmer. very upset. (cars honking) ♪ ♪ >> thompson: this anger at the governor had been boiling since the spring, when militias rallied at the state capitol. according to the fbi, it was here that the kidnapping plot first began to coalesce.
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>> let us in! let us in! >> open the door! >> let us in! >> thompson: egged on by president trump, who had tweed "liberate michigan," heavily armed militia members stormed the capitol building. >> tyranny! tyranny! tyranny! >> thompson: with chants of "tyranny" and "heil whitmer," they confronted lawmakers. >> heil hitler! heil hitler to whitmer! >> lock her up! lock her up! >> thompson: it seemed like a precursor to what would happen at the u.s. capitol. armed protestors made into the legislators' gallery and disrupted the session. representative sarah anthony was there that day. >> april 30, when armed gunmen stormed the capitol building, is probably the most terrifying thing that i've ever experienced in my life. filled, this lobby was filled. all around. up these steps. this is where, you know, we had
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hundreds of people. >> thompson: and most them were armed? >> oh, absolutely. absolutely armed. when we got word that they were coming into the building, just sheer fear went through my body and i can tell you that other legislators on both sides of the aisle were very fearful as well. i was on the floor and i missed three calls from my mom. she was not sure if her daughter was going to make it home alive. >> thompson: when we spoke, the attack in washington d.c. was still months away, but anthony was already worried where things might be heading next. >> 2020 has been building up, it's been a slow fire. it's like a powder keg. i don't know when that explosion is going to happen or what form it's going to take. (people shouting on video) >> thompson: in footage from april 30, you can see six of the alleged kidnapping plotters. one is clearly visible with a boogaloo-style hawaiian shirt and an ar-15. the wolverine watchman founder, pete musico, is in the footage
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too, calling the legislators traitors. >> traitors! ♪ ♪ >> thompson: musico pleaded not guilty to charges related to the kidnapping. i find property records in jackson for a parcel of land in musico's name. he was being held in the jackson county jail. his home may be empty, but i decide to take a look. (knocks on door) (knocks on door) hey, how you doing? >> no comment. thank you. >> thompson: hey, we would love to get in touch with pete and joseph. i saw what they been saying to... >> that's why i can't comment, because they put out so much
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misinformation. >> thompson: that's what we want to figure out what really happened. i saw what pete was saying in court and what his attorney said and we would love to talk to his attorney... >> no, i'm dealing with it. tell her just settle down. >> i'm real interested in what really happened. >> i'm sure a lot of people are. >> thompson: crystal musico is nervous, but eager to speak about the fbi raid and the arrest of her husband. >> they separated us all and questioned us each one. it was always about politics. >> thompson: about politics and boogaloo? >> we won't have anything to do with politics anymore. there won'be anything. if you want to vote, vote. great, vote. i hope it does you some good because it ain't done us nothing but give us heartache. >> thompson: pete was at the rallies at the capitol, right? >> mm-hmm. >> thompson: why do you think he went out there? >> to protest. >> did you go? did you go? >> i did go to one. i went to one. >> and did pete bring arms when he went to the protest? >> yes. >> why'd he do that? >> because he has that right. >> thompson: what i see in the law enforcement bulletins and what i see in the court charges are boogaloo movement, it's about violently overthrowing the government, starting a civil war
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and killing cops. and to mthat's fairly shocking. >> it is shocking. it is shocking to hear all that, but it's also shocking to know that a cop is legally allowed to stand on your neck and kill you. it is shocking that that's allowed and people are okay with that because i'm not, but i ain't doing nothing about it. >> thompson: and you think this is in part a response to concerns about police abuse and about police... >> i think it's a response to a lot of concerns more than just police. >> thompson: what else? >> the way the country is going. this is all in the bible. you can believe it or not, i don't care. your faith is not mine to judge and mine's not yours to judge. >> thompson: you think this... are we at the end of days, do you think? >> yeah. i do believe so. i think we're on the third day, jesus rose on the third day. ♪ ♪ >> thompson: crystal musico's beliefs have deep roots here in michigan. nearly 30 years ago, this was the epicenter of the modern militia movement. the michigan militia was once
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considered the nation's largest, claiming 10,000 members. timothy mcveigh reportedly attended some of its meetings before he blew up the oklahoma city federal building in 1995. (dialing out) >> can you hear me? >> thompson: michigan attorney general dana nessel knows the history well. she says the new generation of militias is different. >> i think the difference is that these folks felt supported by those in government and perhaps at the highest levels of government. you had the president of the united states calling her out by name, calling her a dictator, saying that individuals should liberate michigan. the president of the united states, after these armed gunmen had more or less taken over our capitol building, you know, his words were that these are very fine people and the governor ought to sit down and negotiate with them. can you imagine? that sounds like a hostage crisis more than anything. >> thompson: have you gotten
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threats? i mean, have people threatened your life? >> (laughs) i'm sorry to laugh. but it's like you should be asking me, "how many days a week are you not getting death threats?" and that's not just me, it's our secretary of state, it's our governor. i think that we would be lying if we said that we never got worried, we never got scared for ourselves or for our family members. >> thompson: though the doj is handling some of the kidnapping cases, nessel is prosecuting pete musico and seven of the other alleged plotters. do you think these arrests neutralize the threat? >> as of today, right now, do i think that it's still a significant concern in michigan? i do. >> thompson: nessel says the threat from militias is real and has been evolving for years. a new wave of militias emerged during the iraq war, groups like the oath keepers and the three percenters. but they've never been accused of anything like the terror attributed to the boogaloo and wolverine watchmen.
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♪ ♪ i'm told about a location where the watchmen allegedly trained and prepared for the kidnapping operation. the camp is deserted. its training course-- with spray painted human targets-- is littered with spent shells. according to federal prosecutors, the watchmen blew up a homemade bomb here. neighbors tell me they heard the blast a half mile away. the bomb was allegedly built by the man prosecutors describe as one of the plot's masterminds-- barry croft. croft is being held in a michigan jail. in fbi recordings, he claimed he had been granted permission from god to commit murder. i try to contact him through his lawyer, but get nowhere. and then, i get an email. croft wants to talk. (phone ringing)
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>> good morning, sir. how are you? even though my attorney told me not to speak to you, i felt it necessary to clear my name. somebody has gotta say something contrary to what the federal propagated mainstream media's putting out there and that's why i came to you. >> thompson: is there anything you can say about the wolverine watchmen? >>ou know, i'm very unfamiliar with their, uh, "militia." i wasn't a member. i was only tied in by satellite individuals. >> thompson: croft has pleaded not guilty, and won't talk about anything specifically related to the kidnapping plot. but he lays out arguments against the federal government as if he were before a court. >> okay. this comes straight out of the black's law dictionary. it's the word junta, j-u-n-t-a. definition number one, a military government that has come into power by force. people need to realize thaey
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are being ruled by an illegitimate authority that is in effect. >> thompson: to clarify on that, basically you feel like we're all under military rule in this country? >> yes, sir. >> thompson: in addition to his ties to the watchmen, the fbi says he's a leader of the three percenters, a national netwo of militia groups. >> if you look under the militia statute, every able-bodd american male, 17 to 45, is considered in the unorganized militia. the militia is absolutely necessary to the security of a free state. >> thompson: i saw an interview with you, and you were wearing a hawaiian shirt with your tricorn hat. >> (laughs) yeah. >> thompson: what do you think of the boogaloo movement? >> i got a kick out of those kidsecause even thou, you know, you might find some boogaloo bois that are over here, some are over there, at least they're paying attention. they're young, they're motivated. >> thompson: and they're militant.
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>> um, yeah. they're militant. unfortunately, when you try talking and talking and talking and you don't get anywhere, militant is the obvious, natural progression. that's it. you leave them no choice. and i-i got a kick out of those kids. they... you know, the one out of virginia, mike dunn. you know, you-you look at him and he's an inspiratio >> thompson: did you ever meet mike dunn? did you ever talk to him online? >> i talked to him on the phone once or twice before they, uh, before they came and wrapped me up. >> thompson: mike dunn. before his arrest, barry croft had been in contact with the boogaloo leader i'd seen at the rally in richmond. dunn is just 20 years old. he'd joined the marines out of high school but was medically discharged with a heart condition. he now leads one of the most visible boogaloo chapters in the country. dunn lives in rural virginia. >> we definitely are the modern
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militia. we're the ones crazy enough to actually do something. i think that a lot of people, especially on the right, republicans, realized that it was no longer a america of liberty. i think a lot of people woke up to that in these past four years. >> thompson: so the trump presidency is eroding people's faith in the government further. >> i wouldn't say that he's necessarily helped erode it further, i think he's just helped spotlight it further. i believe a lot of people were already skeptical, and then i think there are some that sa the president of the united states being skeptical and said, "maybe we should too." >> thompson: is this a movement that's hierarchical? are there commanders? are there leaders? how does it work? >> there are boogaloo cells within the movement. you have a fire team, or four people, five people, six people, whatever. and those teams have a leader that they answer to generally. as far as a leader for the movement itself, no, there's not a leader. >> thompson: you're sketching
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out a decentralized network where you have different nodes on that network that may have a leader, may have a commander and a structure, but overall there's no overarching general who's calling the shots? >> no, there's not. >> what do you think of these guys from michigan who are allegey targeting the governor? >> i feel they, uh... they did what should happen across the united states in a lot of places. they were going to take a stand against what they perceive to be tyranny. >> thompson: did you interact with those guys, the michigan people? >> yeah, i'd interacted with a couple. >> thompson: online or in person? >> online. >> thompson: what about steve carrillo, the guy from california? >> steve carrillo, yeah. >> thompson: you talked to him? >> yeah, a lot of people in the movement knew who steve was. >> thompson: so you messaged with him? >> i'm not going to comment. >> thompson: but you saw him online? >> i knew who he was. >> thompson: you knew whhe was? >> yeah. >> thompson: what did you think when he got arrested? >> i'm sure he had a reason for targeting who he targeted, and so be it. >> thompson: i don't buy a lot of dunn's claims. but listening to him is unsettling.
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it's clear that many in the movement are connected. and they seem to be growing more radical with each new arrest. there's been a bunch of arrests... >> yes, there has been. >> thompson: ...in the last mont >> a lot. >> thompson: you worried about those guys? >> i think that a lot of them will take care of themselves while they're in, and when they get out we'll welcome them with open arms. or we have a revolution and we free them. when things pop off, we're going to be liberating them first. >> thompson: are you worried that more people are going to get wrapped up? >> yeah, more than likely. i just hope they go out shooting, killing the ones w come to enforce unconstitutional law, so be it. we're past the point of peace. i think about a revolution against the government. i do believet's inevitable. with tensions high washington d.c. boards up as if the election were a hurricane headed for the city. a trump victory could further embolden the far right movements that see him as a champion.
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a defeat could further radicalize them. throughout the year, the president had been whipping up fears that the election would be stolen, and as the night wears on with no concession speech, no declared winner, the moment seems full of danger. the next morning, with the nation on edge, i sit down with mary mccord, a former counter terrorism official at the justice department. >> obviously as of last night, and even this morning, there's a fair bit of uncertaiy in terms of the ballot counting. we're in a tenuous situation in waiting to see how the right-wing organizations will react. if biden is declared the winner, then i certainly have some concerns that those on the right who think maybe this is the result of fraud or a rigged election, particularly if the president is saying so, will take more aggressive action along the lines of what we saw
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earlier this year in opposition to, for example, governors' stay-at-home orders. >> thompson: mccord continues to track extremist groups and was instrumental in suing the militias who'd shown up in charlottesville. >> under this presidency, the far right, unlawful militias have felt much more license to publicly engage. it's given them a real opportunity. and they've said this from the beginning. i trace a lot of things to charlottesville's unite the right lly, when the president's talked about very fine people on both sides, i mean, that was immediate. right-wing groups, including militia groups, just, you know, grabbed ahold of that language and it helps them recruit, it helps them fundraise, it helps them expand. >> thompson: so you come a few years into the future, and now we're seeing that all the time in the present day. >> so much more so than i had ever seen before, i mean, you know, if we think back, you know, about militiaslike, we remember things like ruby ridge and waco, texas, and even
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more recently, the bundy ranch standoff in bunkerville, nevada. or the malheur wildlife refuge standoff. still, those looked very different, right, than what we're seeing now with, like, going into, like, downtown areas, you know whether it's small towns in idaho, sandpoint or coeur d'alene, or port... or big cities like portland, right? they feel that they have the president's approval and they're using that andhat's partly why we're seeing them more and more and more on the streets. not, you know, not just in one or two areas of the country, but across the country. he's trying to stoke their activity by continuing to say that the election was stolen and that the only reason he didn't win is because it was rigged. those are the kinds of things that will feed in to the narrative that these groups have coalesced around already. (indistinct chatter) >> thompson: on november 14, one week after the election was called for joe biden, trump's supporters take to the streets in washington.
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stirred up by the presidens refusal to concede, they demand that the results be overturned. >> trump 2020! >> thompson: hundreds of proud boys gather, by far the largest contingent i've ever seen assembled. (crowd singing) brien james is here, both as a proud boy, and leading his own group called the american guard. >> ♪ wouldn't do us any harm! ♪ (singing indistinctly) ♪ wouldn't do us any harm ♪ ♪ and we'll all hang on behind ♪ >> who's our president? >> trump's our president! >> hoo-roo! >> hoo-roo! >> i refuse to apologize! >> for creating the modern world! >> for creating the modern world! >> i am a proud boy! >> i am a proud boy! >> hoo-rah! >> thompson: new proud boys are initiated and they march through the streets. >> (chanting): usa! usa! usa! usa! >> thompson: i see former nazi skinheads with the proud boys. they mix w with mainstream trump supporters.
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it was the kind of crowd that would turn out again and again to support trump's attempt to overturn the election. ♪ ♪ >> (chanting): all lives matter! all lives matter! >> thompson: as night falls, drunken proud boys merge with maga marchers and roam through the city looking for fights. trump supporters confront journalists... >> enemy of the people! >> thompson: vandalize black lives matter signs... (clamoring) (crunching) >> thompson: and fight with activists who try to stop them. (panicked shouting) >> get out of here! >> thompson: a month later, trump supporters take to the streets of washington again, and once again, the protests turn violent. (shouting) and then, he calls his
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supporters to the capitol on january 6. >> we're going to walk down and i'll be there with you. we're going walk down to the capitol. (cheers) you'll never take back our country with weakness. you have to show strength, and you have to be strong. (cheers) we have come to demand that congress do the right thing, and we fight. we fight like hell, and if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. >> thompson: as the clock runs out on his presidency, he urges them towards the capitol building. the proud boys are here, but they aren't wearing their trademark yellow and black. (indistinct shouting) the boogaloo bois are here too, also out of uniform. they both blend into the pro-trump crowd.
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inside, congress is tryingo certify the election. outside, the crowd is bearing down on them. >> who's house? >> our house! >> who's house? >> our house! >> thompson: but the police on the steps are outnumbered and unprepared. (people clamoring, chanting) ♪ ♪ (people shouting) (clanging, shouting) (siren blares, people shouting) >> (screams) help! >> thompson: around 140 police
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officers are injured. one officer, brian sicknick, will later die. (people shouting) (banging, glass shattering) a proud boy from new york state smashes through a window. (indistinct shouting) the capitol has been breached. ♪ ♪ >> you're killing me, man-- hey! (clamoring) >> thompson: a proud boy broke the window, but what about the crowbehind him? a mob, urged on by the president, willing to embrace an insurrectionary violence that was once confined only to the most extreme elements of the far right. >> it's amazing! >> thompson: bewildered, some wander through the halls. others move toward the senate chamber.
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(people shouting, fighting) police struggle to hold them off while congress members flee through back exits. the mob surges through the hallways, searching for them, coming within feet of their targets. >> (chanting): break it down! break it down! break it down! >> thompson: rioters try to break into a hallway that lawmakers e escaping through. (gun shot) (ringing) >> shot fired! >> thompson: a protestor is shot and killed. (muffled shouting) three other rioters die in the mayhem. (ringing, muffled audio) it would be hours before the capitol was cleared.
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(ringing fading) the morning after the attack, congress's hallways are deserted. ♪ ♪ i meet with representative andré carson. >> i was alerted by a capitol police officer that i needed to stay in my office. now as a former police officer, my instinct is to get more information and participate, but these group of officers urge me to stay in my office. >> thompson: carson served in a anti-terrorism unit when he was a police officer in indiana. in congress, he is a member of the house intelligence committee. >> i can remember when i first served on the intelligence committee, there were leaders in the fbi under the obama administration who very
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arrogantly and self righteously talked about how they were gonna defend our country against these terrorist attacks, so-called muslim attacks. but when it comes to white supremacists, the fbi is too silent. it has to change. it has to change. much more work needs to be done. ♪ ♪ (phone rings) >> thompson: hey mike, are you there? >> how's it going? yeah, man, how are you? >> thompson: all right, man. it's a gray day in d.c. >> it's a gray time for our nation as well. >> thompson: i reach mike dunn later-- he hadn't been at the capitol, but i want to find out what he's thinking. so in your mind, what changed for the boogaloo movement on wednesday? >> we realized that we're a lot closer to a revolution. our recruiting and interest went completely through the roof as well. they're beginning to understand that the only answer is revolution. >> thompson:roud boys didn't wear yellow and black, the boogs
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are not wearing hawaiian shirts. do you think we're i like, a kind of new phase in the struggle? >> i think that people are learning and adapting. i think we're definitely looking at armed insurrection. many of us in this movement, myself and a lot of other young people like me have come to grips with the fact that death is a reality, it's coming. we just want ours to count. ♪ ♪ >> thompson: washington goes on lockdown. the national guard patrols the streets. law enforcement agencies across the country spring into action. after charlottesville, it took months for the fbi to build a handful of cases. but within weeks of january 6, there have been more than 130 arrests. i search the list of names. many of the individuals charged are affiliated with groups i've been tracking.
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but even more of them have no apparent ties to extremist groups at all. what did it all mean? >> i think january 6, i think it really surprised everybody. here are groups that profess to be, you know, law and order in this country, and then here are cops that are in the group that are beating on other cops. you know, that is unheard of. >> thompson: i asked the former fbi agent john bennet about what he thought the takeaways were from january 6. when you were seeing the early news reports from january 6, did you think, "hey, this is a well-organized conspiracy?" >> i-i didn't think this was well-organized at all. i think this was opportunistic. they were banging on doors and opening doors that led to hallways and stairwells. they had no idea what the layout was and they were shocked that they got in there. you've had a pandemic, people who have lost jobs, people who questioned the legitimacy of elections. i think this was chum in the water and blood in the water, and it became a feeding frenzy. >> thompson: do you feel like
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now what you're seeing is radical fringe ideologies migrating into the mainstream and sort of moving out of those small fringe groups into broader circulation? >> the skinheads and, and, and all of that neo-nazi side of things, no-- that is something people really don't want to be associated with, but what the scary thing is, a lot of people in these, these groups that we're seeing now are your neighbors, are your... you know, the truck drivers and the doctors that believe in this. >> thompson: you spent years investigating domestic terror cases. when you think about the future of political violence in this country, are you worried about another january 6, where it's sort of a mass eruption, or are you more worried about an individual act of terrorism by an individual or a small cell? >> it's those individuals and those, those people who are plotting without a lot of people around them that are very challenging for, for any
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law enforcement to investigate. you know, referring back to the january 6 events, there, there was an individual who placed pipe bombs who has not been identified yet. that's the type of person that, you know, we're really concerned about. ♪ ♪ >> thompson: intelligence and law enforcement sources keep warning me about two sides of the extremist threat-- an expanding pool of radicalized individuals, and small groups of extremists recruiting them into violence. ♪ ♪ looking over our footage from the 6th with my colleague ford fisher, one group keeps appearing. close to the front, at the tipping points where the day turned-- the proud boys. >> so at the, at the previous two million maga marches, there were probably about a thousand proud boys. >> thompson: yeah, there were a lot. >> at each of them, um... >> thompson: and they're all wearing black and yellow. >> wearing pretty much identical, black and yellow. on january 6, it's quite different, they had specifically said that they were going to come wearing all
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black. >> thompson: even without their uniforms, i recognize ethan nordean-- a proud boy i'd seen in portland years ago. he's pleaded not guilty to charges related to january 6. the proud boy seen breaking the window-- identified by the fbi as dominic pezzola-- has also pleaded not guilty for his role in the attack. i used to see proud boys march with thin blue line flags, but now they're charged with participating in a riot that had killed a police officer. so we go to these rallies and the proud boys say, "we love the police, we back the blue, blue lives matter." but that changed, that changed on january 6 and suddenly they are at war with the police. >> i think sort of a transition from supporting the government to, uh, to believing that the incoming government is illegitimate. >> (chanting): our streets! >> thompson: the proud boys appeared to be the largest organized group at the capitol, but another pattern jumps out of the footage-- men and women
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in military-style combat gear. 43 of the rioters charged for the 6th are military veterans or current members of the armed forces. extremists within the military: it's the problem i'd long been tracking. the government had always downplayed the scale of it. >> president-elect joe biden today denounced the rioters who stormed the capitol and blamed president trump for... >> thompson: the new administration claims to be taking the threat more seriously. >> domestic violent extremism is one of the number one threats to this. >> thompson: with vows to make it a top priority. >> to study the urgent threat... >> thompson: but i've heard language like this in the past. >> people arrested were active military personnel or veterans... >> thompson: i wonder if this time will be different. and some of the signs are encouraging. >> ...a military-wide stand down to root out extremism within its ranks after the january 6 assault on the capitol. >> thompson: the man heading the dod's effort on extremism in the ranks agrees to talk to me.
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>> we know that this is a problem, it is absolutely a problem, it's a disturbing problem, and it's one that we're going to address. >> thompson: the pentagon had always framed this to me as an isolated issue. but january 6 seems to have changed that. >> you're a reporter, you've looked at the data. we know that veterans in america make up a small percentage of the overall population, definitely much less than 10%. but when you look at the, the number of the those individuals charged, we see that there was an out-sized representation of that veteran population in that space. so we need to understand what happened, and we need to, to do deep dives into the data to get a greater understanding of why this took place, why this happened. >> thompson: in the past when i would ask the military branches, the pentagon about this question, people didn't want to answer it honestly. >> well, i, i don't want to speak to what's happened in the past, i can just tell you that
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secretary austin, that president biden, this administration is... sees this as a top priority. we're going to do everything we can to address it. >> thompson: it seems like there's a shift, a few years ago, i was seeing guys who were affiliated with the neo-nazi movements, the white supremacist movements; more recently, what i seem to be seeing are guys that identify with anti-government groups, with militia groups. have you seen that shift as well in your work? >> well, i'll tell you, as society shifts, uh, and evolves, so do... so too do the nature of the threats. so we are trying to get a good handle on what we are actually facing so we can make the right type of recommendations and process in order to address it. ♪ ♪ >> thompson: two weeks after january 6, with authorities bearing down on extremist groups, boogaloo bois stage rallies around the country. ♪ ♪ in michigan they return to the
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state capitol. and i recognize boogaloo bois who took part in the siege here back in april. ♪ ♪ in virginia, mike dunn marches again. >> all we do repeatedly is get tread on! well, today we're not getting tread on! it's is not about trump! it's is not about maga! it's not about democrats, it's not about republicans. it's about me and my boys right here, standing together and saying we're done, we're not gonna comply. the only answer to solving our issue is armed revolt. >> thompson: but despite his bravado, this might be the last time he leads boogaloo bois in public. after this rally, he changes his phone number and vanishes from social media. in our last conversation, he tells me the struggle is entering a new phase and he needs to disappear. law enforcement is continuing to make arrests they charge four more people in
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connection to the boogaloo-related murder case against steven carrillo. according to the fbi, the group had been discussing tactics for killing police. ♪ ♪ the proud boys are here too. but their numbers are small. (indistinct chatter) after the capitol siege, and the proud boys getting arrested for that, for breaching the capitol. >> what proud boys? >> thompson: there were dozens of proud boys there who were helping to orchestrate the breach. do you want an insurrection to overturn the election... >> we want a patriotic party that puts america first. >> thompson: you guys were never looking for trouble in d.c., or anywhere? >> we don't look for no problems at all. >> thompson: yeah, but everywhere i go there's fights with the proud boys and other people. i've been in d.c. with you guys and you were looking for fights, you were looking... >> no, we weren't, i've been to every single d.c... >> thompson: you don't think so? >> i've been to two out of the three, we've been there on the ground. >> thompson: and so, the black lives matter signs that got torn down? >> that has nothing to do with this. >> thompson: except it was proud boys that were part of
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that group. i had reached the end of a trail that began in charlottesville, where i had seen up close the peril posed by a resurgent white supremacist movement. in the months leading up to january 6, what i saw was different-- armed militias pledging to execute police and elected officials; ultra-nationalists brawling in the streets with their perceived enemies; would-be revolutionaries in hawaiian shirts, and millions of people convinced the 2020 election was a fraud-- some of them angry enough to attack the united states capitol. after years of covering these movements, it's clear; they've they've been part of the american scene for decades, constantly evolving, and the threat is not going away. >> go to pbs.org/frontline for more reporting with our partners including our past films and for a timeline of extremist events leading up to january 6th. "jews will not replace us..."
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connect with frontline on facebook, instagram and twitter. and watch anytime of the pbs app or pbs.org/frontline. >> the world health organization officially calling it a pandemic. >> it's all over the world and it's just exposing something that's always been there. >> it's a matter of life and death. >> i would like to believe that there is hope. >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major support is provided by the ford foundation: working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. additional support is provided by the abrams foundati, committed to excellence in journalism...
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the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler and additional support form koo and patricia yuen. “support for “american insurrection” is provided by the wnet group's “exploring hate” initiative with principal support by the following: and additional major funding from... with additiol support from... corporate support for frontline is provided by... >> for more on this and other frontline programs visit our website at pbs.org/frontline.
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frontline's american insurrection is available on amazon prime video.
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(relaxed ensemble guitar music) (flies buzzing) - [corinne] my patients are vips in my office. they aren't any different than any other physician's patients. they just happen to be dead. when i go into my office in the morning and i've lost that compassion and i don't take it home with me, it's time to hang it up because then i'm gonna start missing things, i'm not gonna care.

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