On QAnon parades and the highjacking of legitimate movements

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Protesters showed up for a multitude of causes. // Photo by Jim Nimmo

On Saturday, August 29th, several groups of activists gathered in front of City Hall to protest child sex trafficking. They promoted stronger criminal penalties for the crime and rallied to raise awareness. Over the past few weeks, multiple such rallies have been held all across the country and promoted on social media with the hashtag #saveourchildren.

But why the sudden interest in child-sex trafficking. Well, it’s a mix of sincere intent and wild misinformation.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives an average of 150 calls per day. Over half of those are for minors. It is an estimated $100 billion dollar per year industry worldwide involving over 20,000 children just in the USA. Make no mistake, the issue is every bit as serious as protest leaders would have you to believe.

The controversy lies with the makeup of participants at these rallies. All over the country, QAnon believers have swelled the ranks of protesters much to the chagrin of organizers who feel that QAnon detracts from the message of the protest.

Again, what are the basics of this belief system?

What are the said tenets of the belief structure? Donald Trump is working with a series of secret operatives to destroy a secret cabal of pedophiles (ranging from Hillary Clinton to Tom Hanks) who cannibalize terrified children in order to drink a fear-enzyme from their brains. Also JFK Jr. is still alive, and one of these days he and Trump are going to bring to justice every single person that you might dislike. Again, this includes Tom Hanks—a person previously thought impervious to claims of being less than a delight. And certainly not claims of being a cannibal.

Over the last few years, the Q phenomenon went from few thousand peoples in the furthest corners of dumbshit internet to being an issue that Facebook estimates has upward of 3 million individual users active among a small number of groups at this point. QAnon doesn’t need to be identified as such, and neither do its followers at this point. “QLite” is the term applied to those that have the online brain-poisoning of hyper-specific Facebook groups where theories born of Q forums can find new life. Anyone blaming George Soros for everything wrong in the world, or asking what’s happening with child sex trafficking at pizza places? They may not know, but they’ve fallen into some of the dumbest fan-fiction imaginable.

It’s a mental cesspool, and its spread has begun to infect people that have no idea what they’ve been contaminated by. Just ask your extended family how many of their friends have posted something about Bill Gates trying to create vaccines to microchip your loved ones. Yeah. That’s not not QAnon.

For insightful coverage of the protests that took place world-wide in Q’s name on this same weekend, we highly recommend this podcast:

Yvette Marchetti, leader of one of the groups, explained that she wasn’t even really sure what “Q” was but it wasn’t something that her group was about. Alexis “Rose” an organizer with another group was also very insistent that the Saturday march was about the issue and not the QAnon sympathizers.

“We just wanted to be clear that our group is about spreading awareness about child trafficking…we are not here for any conspiracy theories.”

Her denials however became questionable when another leader of her group walked up and explained how she was a full believer in the QAnon movement. As soon as this woman realized I was with the media she stopped talking and the interview was abruptly ended.

I spoke to other protesters whose signs had Q related hashtags and sayings on them. One woman holding a sign saying “Close Pizzagate” told me, “Q Anon is too complicated to go down that rabbit hole and explain. Google the Clinton Foundation, that’ll get you started”. When I asked another protester if the giant Q on his sign stood for Q Anon he replied, “The Q can stand for anything you want it to”.

Apparently the First Rule of QAnon is not to talk about QAnon.

Starting in 2017, QAnon revolves around mysterious web postings from “Q” who claims to be an insider in the Trump administration. QAnon is a social media-inspired “movement” that has become a clearinghouse for conspiracy theories. Believers claim to be “awakened” and often refer to those who don’t follow Q as “sheeple”. The main conspiracy theory is that President Trump is fighting a secret cabal of child-sex predators that kidnap children for sacrifice drinking their blood in an effort to remain young looking. This cabal is composed of liberal politicians, Hollywood elites, and “the deep state”. Eventually, Trump will arrest them all and save the world. Other conspiracies that receive Q’s attention include alien landings, miracle COVID cures, anti-mask, and anti-vaccine theories. 

Just re-iterating exactly what we talk about when we talk about Q beliefs and what it entails.

None of this would be necessarily bad if it just remained idle speculation on the part of it’s believers. However, multiple instances of violence have been perpetrated by QAnon followers.

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Edgar Maddison Welch threatened a pizza restaurant in Washington DC because it was supposedly part of a child sex trafficking ring.

Matthew Wright drove an armored truck onto the Tillman Memorial Bridge near Hoover Dam blocking traffic. He demanded authorities release a Justice Dept report on the Hillary Clinton email probe. Upon being arrested he was discovered to have multiple weapons, 900 rounds of ammunition and a flashbang in his truck.

Anthony Comello shot and killed a senior member of the Gambino crime family. His lawyer argued in court that Comello did not intend to kill the crime boss but suspected he was a member of the “deep state” and had planned on a citizen’s arrest. 

In May of 2019, the FBI named QAnon as a domestic terrorist group due to numerous discussions advocating violence on the web. Social media platforms have also begun to crack down on QAnon for the same reason by removing hundreds of groups and pages.

Many of the people I spoke with discovered QAnon in March during lockdowns.

Stuck inside their homes, they had a lot of time to do their “research”. The typical member starts by seeing a YouTube link on a friend’s Facebook or Instagram page. They follow it to some sort of documentary or article that asks questions and gives a few real facts with lots of well-spoken opinions but little solid research.

The video spends more time seeking to influence your beliefs than actually informing you with solid information.

(Someday history may reveal to us that Q was nothing more than a used car salesman with a great social media presence.) Once you have viewed this video, your social media algorithms link you to more pages with similar but slightly darker information. Discussion of Jeffrey Epstein (a real problem that deserves investigation) slowly evolves into Hollywood elites blood-drinking a youth serum harvested from kidnapped children. It’s a very dark rabbit hole to wander down. It also allows for a distraction from real cases and real victims of sex crimes. Trafficking Hotlines get overrun with calls from QAnon followers reporting the latest conspiracy tip to the point where they fear that real victims who are in need of help get overlooked due to the volume of false tips.

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For protest leaders, these QAnon influenced participants are both welcomed for their participation and feared that the attention they receive will keep media from highlighting their cause. Much like Black Lives Matter protests have to deal with the impact of a small number of violent protesters, Save Our Children protesters try to limit the effect that QAnon followers have on the media coverage of their events. Facebook posts regarding the march are constantly reminding participants to not use Q associated comments on their signs and not to speak with the media about their beliefs. Those reminders were ignored by a majority of Saturday’s protesters.  

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I asked one protester if she also saw similarities between the influence of violent protesters on BLM marches and the QAnon protesters at her rally. Her response was interrupted by another protester who told me why they are different.

“So the deal is that Black Lives Matter is funded by a white supremacist devil worshiper named George Soros.  He’s part of the elite that she was telling you about that traffics in children. Do you understand? So it’s not the same. Black Lives Matter is a demonic organization, QAnon is exposing the truth. And what they been doing to these children for a long time, they don’t just sexually abuse them, do you understand. They worship Maalik, they sacrifice these children. They terrify them to the utmost levels of terror to make their adrenaline surge. They do it to babies. They do it to older children. There are lots of testimonies on Youtube and they are all the same all the stuff they do to them. They terrify them, then cut their throats, drink the blood…because it’s a youth serum. And they SELL it on the market too. These devil worshipers are the elite. It is Hollywood. It is a great deal of politicians, it is the Royal family….who am I missing?”

The groups involved in planning Saturday’s protest are all hopeful of planning more activities in the upcoming months. A silent Plaza protest is in the planning stages for late September. Like other social movement groups this summer, their leadership will have to navigate the tricky waters of how to present a powerful message when the actions of a small percentage of your supporters can overshadow that message. 

Child sex trafficking is real and needs to be addressed. If you are aware of anyone who may be needing help to get out of a trafficking situation, call The Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Categories: Politics