July 24, 2024

FORMER US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP DURING THE CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ACTION CONFERENCE (CPAC) IN NATIONAL HARBOR, MARYLAND, US, ON SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 2023. (PHOTO BY AL DRAGO / BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES)

Minutes after former President Donald Trump was indicted by a grand jury in New York, his supporters flooded social media and extremist message boards with violent and racist threats against the officials prosecuting Trump, as well as bloody civil war.

“This cannot go unpunished,” one member of the rabidly pro-Trump message board The Donald wrote on Thursday night. “The DA needs to pay dearly.”

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“None of this will stop unless there is blood in the streets,” another poster wrote.

In Trump’s own statement, the former president called the indictment a “political persecution” and referred to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as “hand-picked and funded by George Soros,” and stated that Bragg is “doing Joe Biden’s dirty work.”

His far-right supporters mobilized quickly online to echo these comments. Through their vitriol, and calls for war, some supporters also promoted a narrative where Trump’s indictment was actually going to help him win victory in 2024. In some cases, supporters falsely said the indictment was simply a ruse to distract everyone from the shooter in Nashville earlier this week.

“The whole trans terrorist thing must have been polling badly so they decided to indict Trump based on the testimony of a lying jew and lying whore,” one influential neo-Nazi account on Telegram wrote, alongside an AI-generated image of a tattooed, topless Trump in a prison yard.

While Trump supporters did not publicly make specific plans for protests or violence, there were numerous examples of violent rhetoric in response to Trump’s indictment, including calling for violence against Bragg, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, and law enforcement.

On platforms like The Donald, where all five of the top pinned posts on the homepage on Thursday night related to Trump’s indictment, commenters openly called for violence that was largely racist in nature.

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Under a post with a photo of Bragg captioned “FAT PIECE OF SHIT!” another user commented: “There once was a time when he would have been lynched for much less.”

“Can’t we put a bounty on Bragg’s head? Time to fight lawlessness with lawlessness,” one user wrote. In response, someone said: “Hey man a lot of us are thinking the same thing, but if I said what should really happen I’d be charged with ‘terroristic threats.’” Another added: “The unjustified prosecution of President Trump is state terrorism. Respond to terrorism with terrorism.”

When one member of The Donald pointed out that the New York Police Department has ordered all officers to report for duty on Friday morning as a precautionary measure,” another user, while talking about the day after the indictment, commented: “Hopefully, it will be remembered as a day of slaughter.”

There were also many users calling for civil war on the platform. “Yeah. I’m down with just getting 1776 round 2 over with. The build up is infuriating,’ one user wrote in response to the news, while another added: “They want you pissed. Looks like WW3 could be off the table for now, so onto plan B: civil war.”

Some users laid out more detailed plans, discussing militias and boycotts and tax avoidance, while another simply wrote: “War.” 

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The threats of violence, found on a wide variety of platforms ranging from Trump’s own Truth Social to more mainstream platforms like Twitter, notorious message board 4chan, and The Donald, were located by VICE News and researchers from Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan group that tracks extremists online. And though there are no specific plans detailed right now, users on The Donald played a significant role in the planning, incitement, and coordination of violent events on January 6, 2021.

It’s also not just anonymous users on fringe message boards who are using incendiary language to incite anger about Trump’s indictment. 

“The political Rubicon has been crossed. There’s no going back from this,” Charlie Kirk, a right-wing talk show host, wrote on Truth Social. One of Kirk’s followers responded writing: “There is only one way back & that is WAR!”

Also on Truth Social, Pizzagate conspiracist, right-wing troll and organizer of the Stop the Steal movement, Jack Posobiec simply wrote: “Are you ready” to which many followers replied: “Let’s go.”

Ali Alexander, the Stop the Steal organizer, also posted a video of himself reacting to the news: “You want to raise me an indictment? I’ll raise you a civil war,  I’ll raise you a World War 3, I’ll raise you a cap in your ass.” before claiming that “all of these are metaphors.” 

On Fox News, sports columnist Jason Whitlock called for men to prepare for what’s coming. “I hope every other man out there watching this show, I hope you’re ready for whatever’s next. If that’s what they want let’s get to it,” Whitlock told Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The host himself also weighed in, responding to another quest on his show who claimed the country was becoming an authoritarian state, by saying: “Probably not the best time to give up your AR-15s. And I think most people know that.”

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The New York Young Republican Club issued a statement on the indictment that concluded with the line: “President Trump assured us that he was our retribution. Now we must return the rejoinder: our victory will be the joint vindication that our great President Donald J. Trump and our American people both deserve. This is Total War.”

However, though many Trump supporters openly called for violence, members of The Donald also cautioned against protests of any kind, claiming the FBI was simply “baiting” people “to do something.” 

“Everyone is too scared to get J6ed,” one user wrote, referencing arrests surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

This claim was echoed by far-right disinformation superspreader Alex Jones, who claimed the “deep state” was looking to provoke Trump supporters into a “summer of rage or a civil war” or stage false flag events that would be blamed on Trump supporters. He urged Trump supporters not to take the bait. “We don’t want violence, we want a cultural revolution,” he tweeted.

On 4chan, an anonymous user commented: “Garland should be assassinated.”

On Telegram, neo-Nazi groups were sharing a note that compared the current situation in the U.S. to the build-up to the Spanish Civil War. “Today’s indictment of Trump, the Transgender terrorism, the massive recession we are plunging into, countries of the world gravitating commercially/politically away from the United States, and the general Communist agitation happening at every level of the government is simply part of the perfect storm which is likely to cause a calamity that we have yet to come to know,” a post shared by a neo-Nazi active club wrote on Telegram, advocating for followers to create chaos rather than plan specific violent attacks.

Other Nazi figures, unsurprisingly, tried to agitate followers to action. The former leader of a neo-Nazi group designated a terrorist organization in multiple countries declared that this indictment makes the “GOP look spineless,” and urged that the “right must embrace militancy.” He gave his followers a warning that “Trump being thrown in prison will signal the Left’s total victory in its multi-generational battle to infiltrate and usurp power in [the] USA. It will require nothing less than a revolution by patriots to reacquire any degree of political agency.” 

And in some spaces, like in pro-Trump conspiracy communities like QAnon, the reaction to his indictment has been almost entirely positive. Influencers in the movement have claimed that the imminent arrest is what they have, in fact, been waiting for all along, and means that Trump will eventually be able to arrest other politicians like Hillary Clinton. Some users are claiming that the indictment will be positive forTrump’s election chances as well.

This claim was backed up by the notorious pro-Trump Twitter troll known as Catturd, who tweeted: “President Trump just won 2024.” a post that has been viewed over 1.2 million times and shared widely on other platforms.

“There is NOTHING that will UNITE the MAGA movement on all sides like [them] indicting Trump, NOTHING,” one prominent QAnon influencer wrote on Telegram. “There are MANY who didn’t know who they would be voting for in 2024, who now know FOR SURE after today.”