A convoy has picked up hundreds of cars and several trucks since they left a rural parking lot in Adelanto, California, on Feb. 22; today, they will converge on our nation’s capital. It organized on pro-Trump and anti-vaccine channels on the Telegram messaging app in support “of the Freedom Convoy” that brought chaos to Canada’s capital. Their original ‘beef’ focused mainly on mask and vaccine mandates but since most restrictions have been lifted, they have a new laundry list of grievances they want addressed.
Some think they’re ‘Taxed Enough Already,’ similar to what the Tea Party claimed when President Obama took office. But now, their main focus is on ‘accountability,’ according to Sara Aniano, an extremism researcher who has spent the last month following the convoy in its Telegram chats.
“That could mean financial accountability. It could be physical accountability. It could be legal accountability. Their inability to distinguish what exactly that means is where the concern lies,” said Aniano, who recently published a report on QAnon’s growth after Jan. 6 for the International Centere for the Study of Radicalization, a London-based nonprofit group.
While some in this group admonished Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the more extreme members of this lunatic fringe group “have seized on a false conspiracy theory that the war is a cover for a military operation backed by former President Donald Trump in Ukraine.”
According to NBC:
The conspiracy theory, which is baseless and has roots in QAnon mythology, alleges that Trump and Putin are secretly working together to stop bioweapons from being made by Dr. Anthony Fauci in Ukraine and that shelling in Ukraine has targeted the secret laboratories. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has emerged in the past year as a main target for far-right conspiracy theories.
There are no US-run biolabs in Ukraine, contrary to social media posts:
- There are no U.S.-run biological weapons labs operating in Ukraine.
- The U.S. Defense Department and the Ukraine Ministry of Health have had a partnership since 2005 to improve public health laboratories and prevent the threat of outbreaks of infectious diseases.
- That effort is part of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which began in 1991 to reduce the threat of existing weapons of mass destruction programs in former Soviet Republics.
Ukraine, US Biolabs, and an Ongoing Russian Disinformation Campaign
In an attempt to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, propagandists claimed the attack was focused on secret U.S. biolabs there.
Sara Aniano also noted the convoy has added some of the lunatics that “had congregated in Dallas because they believed that John F. Kennedy Jr., who died in 1999, was still alive and would reveal himself on the site where his father, former President John F. Kennedy, was shot. That group joined the convoy as it drove through Texas.”
Of course, grifters gonna grift: A nonprofit says it collected over $1.5 million for a D.C.-region-bound truck convoy. Its director recently pleaded guilty to fraud.
They want to do something, so they give. In this case, to the AFCLF Foundation, which launched last year and names as its executive director a Texas woman named Pamela Milacek, whose arrest is sought, records show, by authorities who allege she violated the terms of her community supervision after pleading guilty to felony fraud and exploitation charges in 2020.
Leaders pledge that the dollars collected by the organization, whose initials stand for the American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedom, will go to the truckers and organizing for the convoy.It’s part of a coalition of emerging social media influencers and groups harnessing the grievance of disgruntled voters, many of whom profess a belief in the claim, comprehensively dismantled in courtrooms across the country, that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald Trump.
They don’t trust the government, but they are placing their trust in the nonprofit group, which lists among its top issues “election integrity” on a website decrying “ideological discrimination, “big tech censorship,” “cancel culture” and “forced COVID vaccinations.”
In 2020, Milacek pleaded guilty to felony exploitation of an elderly person after taking nearly $15,000 from the bank account of her then-81-year-old aunt, Collin County, Tex., court records show. She also pleaded guilty to a separate felony charge of fraudulently using someone’s name, Social Security number and driver’s license number to apply for a PayPal credit card in 2017, court records show. The case involved a different victim. But, DONATE NOW!