Friday, October 2, 2020


From Ali Breland's 9-28-20 MOTHER JONES article entitled "QAnon Is Attracting Cops":

Chances are, you already don’t trust the police. Polls show that most Americans don’t.

But what if the cop patrolling your neighborhood held bizarre and unsubstantiated views? What if there was a chance that officer in the patrol car idling down the block was watching videos about a conspiracy holding that a satanic cabal of high-profile liberal pedophiles is running the world’s most insidious sex ring? Or was swiping through memes popularizing a made-up plot about kidnapped children kept in underground tunnels so their blood can be harvested to help keep wealthy people alive? And what if they sincerely believed it all?

In a small but growing number of places across the country, that’s just what is happening, as police officers have endorsed QAnon, the overarching conspiracy theory comprising these beliefs [...].

Matthew Kunkel and Mark Manicki, both police officers in La Salle, Illinois, had their support for QAnon become known after one of them posted pictures of the duo wearing vests emblazoned with “Q” at a rally to end coronavirus lockdowns and reopen the economy. La Salle Mayor Jeff Grove told the Times, a local paper, that the city would investigate the incident, but that in his view, “what you do on your own time is your choice, and that’s your right.”

Manicki was even more nonplussed by having his support of QAnon become a topic of controversy. “I, like millions of other people on this planet, enjoy the challenge of attempting to decode the information contained within the Q drops. It’s called ‘Q Research’ for a reason, it requires research to obtain the information encoded within the posts,” Manicki explained to the Times. “I’m merely someone who sits on my couch late at night with my dog on my lap, iPhone in hand, while seeking the truth. Last time I checked, there was nothing wrong with that!” (La Salle police did not return a Mother Jones request for comment.)

Like LaSalle’s mayor, some people in power who have been asked to answer for QAnon supporters in their proximity have acted as if the conspiracy is ultimately harmless. But this is a dangerous misconception, especially when it comes to government agents empowered to use force. The logic of the conspiracy theory almost requires its adherents to carry out acts of violence: If you actually believe that elites are harboring scores of children in underground tunnels to rape and steal blood from, taking action to liberate them would be a moral imperative.

QAnon supporters at least partially motivated by their belief in the conspiracy theory have plotted to carry out fatal, violent acts, or actually done so. In a deep irony, QAnon supporters have actually kidnapped children. The FBI has warned about the potential dangers of QAnon adherents carrying out violence in a document that is designed to be distributed to local law enforcement agencies.

QAnon supporters committing outright crimes, while concerning, is rare. What’s more common and still destructive is QAnon adherents’ tendency to target and relentlessly harass people. Terrorizing people online is a way for QAnon supporters to feel like they’ve done their part without physical risk or likely breaking the law.

“What’s a lot more concerning than targeted harassment though,” warns Travis View, “is someone with of the power of a police officer taking action on someone.”

View produces the podcast QAnon Anonymous, which recently featured an episode on “QAnon Cops.” I spoke to him on Zoom call along with his co-host Jake Rockatansky.

“The danger,” Rockatansky added, “is that you’ve got law enforcement who have a tremendous amount of responsibility who are showing complete disconnect from reality. They carry weapons. What happens if a police officer thinks that they’ve uncovered a pedophile ring?”

Click HERE to read the rest of Breland's article.

(And click HERE to read my recent five-part SALON series about QAnon.)

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