“After Mar-a-Lago search, users on pro-Trump forums agitate for ‘civil war’ — including a Jan. 6 rioter”

NBC News:

Some users on pro-Trump internet forums told users to “lock and load,” agitated for civil war and urged protesters to head to Mar-a-Lago in the hours after news broke that the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Florida compound on Monday.

One user posting about the “civil war” shortly after the search was Tyler Welsh Slaeker, a Washington state man awaiting sentencing for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to previous research and statements posted online. A report in December by Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative group, found that Slaeker posted to the pro-Trump internet forum TheDonald under the username “bananaguard62.”

On Monday night, the username “bananaguard62” posted the top reply to the “lock and load” post.

“Are we not in a cold civil war at this point?” the account asked. Another user responded, “several points ago.” Another top reply to Slaeker quoted a notorious antisemitic Nazi rallying cry.

In the months before Jan. 6, Slaeker had posted selfies to his bananaguard62 account, and he would later appear in photos from the Capitol riot and arrest records. On Jan. 6, he uploaded a photo of himself watching Trump’s speech from a tree on the Ellipse. Metadata from that photo confirms it was taken by Slaeker, according to the Advance Democracy Report. NBC News has also seen the photo and its metadata.

In the minutes after news of the search broke, users on pro-Trump forums like TheDonald, a Reddit-like website that was used to provide logistics before the Capitol riot, urged immediate violence, asking questions like “When does the shooting start?” and calling upon Trump to summon militias.

The most popular comment responding to the news, upvoted over 1,200 times, was simply the words “lock and load.”

Later on in the night, Slaeker clarified in a reply that he could not be more specific about his civil war post.

“I am awaiting sentencing for trespassing into the Capitol,” he wrote. “I am only being careful with my words.”

Slaeker’s recent posts illustrate that some of the same people on extremist forums talking about “civil war” or angling for more violence have taken real-life action in the past.

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