The Slatest

Neo-Nazis Allegedly Discussed Opening Fire at Virginia’s Pro-Gun Rally Slated for Monday

A view of the Virginia State Capitol.
The Virginia State Capitol, where guns rights activists plan to gather on Monday to protest against gun control measures. Some white supremacist and other extremist groups have indicated they plan to join the protests. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Three suspected white supremacists who were arrested Thursday in Maryland had discussed opening fire from the pro-gun rally that will take place in Virginia this coming Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal. Law enforcement officials on Friday said that the men had allegedly been planning to sow chaos and further their goal of “accelerat[ing] the downfall of the U.S. government” so that a white ethno-state can take its place.

It was also reported Friday that an additional three men associated with the same violent neo-Nazi group had been arrested in Georgia on Wednesday. Those three men had allegedly been plotting to kill two people.

All six people are thought to be members of a group known as The Base, an intensely violent extremist group. The three suspects arrested Thursday face charges related to firearms and harboring immigrants residing in the country illegally.

The three men arrested in Georgia had reportedly been planning to murder a couple they believed to be members of Antifa, in an area northwest of Atlanta. The suspects also aimed to overthrow the U.S. government. Federal authorities identified a seventh person associated with The Base who had allegedly vandalized a synagogue in Wisconsin.

The Base is committed to promoting anarchy through violence with the goal of igniting a race war, according to Reuters. According to the Anti-Defamation League, its members are opposed to what they see as Jewish values that have infiltrated the “European race.” It hopes to ‘impose order from chaos,’ according to the Counter Extremism Project, and its members train as soldiers in camps around the country. The group began in 2018, and though its activity is largely online, its real-life actions have been on the rise; for instance, it has distributed manuals for terror attacks and bomb-making to its members. The Base is the English translation of al Qaeda, though it’s unclear if that connection was intentional.

It’s not clear if the three men in Georgia had any plans related to Monday’s gun rally in Richmond, Virginia, but the three suspects in Maryland had obtained weapons and were planning on participating, the FBI said. The rally is expected to draw many white nationalist and other extremist groups, which have become more agitated after Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and temporarily banned weapons from the State Capitol grounds.

Democrats, who control both of the statehouse’s chambers, plan to pass a number of gun control measures. Gun rights advocates have responded by forming “Second Amendment sanctuaries” and otherwise vowing to fight for what they see as their constitutional rights. Some of the activists sued to challenge Northam’s temporary ban, but a judge upheld the ban. Organizers of the rally said they would appeal to the state Supreme Court. Northam has defended the ban by citing the number of reported credible threats to the event related to extremist groups.