Trial of Oath Keepers and Stewart Rhodes; extremist music on Spotify

This week my colleague Ella Lee and I dove into the seditious January 6 conspiracy of the Oath Keepers trial, which began on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Spotify has a white supremacy problem, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League, and a church outside of Houston has come under fire from hate groups for hosting a friendly LGTBQ+ event.

It’s extremism week.

Trial of the Oathkeepers:Trial of the Oathkeepers: An 1800s-inspired defense meets January 6’s most significant lawsuit yet

Profile of Stewart Rhodes:Vegas valet, Yale law graduate, unhinged leader of the Oath Keepers: who is Stewart Rhodes?

Oathkeepers on trial

In probably the most high-profile case of last year’s Capitol insurrection, Stewart Rhodes, founder of the extremist group The Oath Keepers, and his alleged accomplices are on trial this week for seditious conspiracy. We broke down the charge in an article this week laying out the charges, Rhodes’ extraordinary defense and what the outcome of the case could mean for far-right armed groups.

  • Rhodes is accused of seditious conspiracy. Prosecutors allege he and his fellow Oath Keepers conspired for months to disrupt Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results on January 6.
  • Rhodes lawyers have presented a unique defence, the first of its kind, which relies on an inventive interpretation of 1800s-era statutes known as the Law of Insurrection.
  • The TL version; DR: Rhodes maintains that he and others believed former President Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act on January 6 and call in the “unorganized militia” to help stop what they believe was a fraudulent election. He claims that his actions were therefore legal.
  • An expert called the defense “absurd”. Two others said he was unlikely to succeed.

The trial begins: We’ll be in the courtroom to watch and report on it, with opening arguments from a range of defense attorneys starting Monday.

Rhodes and four oath keepers are on trial in the case which is expected to last six to seven weeks. Four other people charged in the same indictment will be tried in November.

Spotify, the giant streaming service, is also home to pro-extremist music, according to a new report.

Spotify’s White Supremacy Problem

Hugely popular music streaming service Spotify is still hosting white supremacist and other far-right music, despite calls from activists to cut the music, according to a report released last week by the League’s Center on Extremism. anti-defamation.

  • The ADL has identified 40 white supremacist artists on Spotify, ranging from “Fashwave” (a subset of the non-extremist “Vaporwave” movement promoted by neo-Nazis) to National Socialist black metal.
  • As the ADL notes, “Music has long been an effective means of radicalizing extremists, allowing artists to entertain and indoctrinate vulnerable listeners.”
  • The report also notes that Spotify took no action following findings that it was hosting extremist music. The platform was made aware of the presence of white supremacist artists in February and despite revamping its rules, those rules do not appear to be enforced, the ADL notes.
  • A Spotify spokesperson told Gizmodo, “We recognize that even with our innovation and continued investments in moderation, there is always more work to be done.”

Wider context: Spotify is just one of many tech companies with a proven track record in combating extremist content. We have already written about the approaches of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Another hate-targeted LGTBQ+ event

This year has seen an upsurge in protests against events at churches, businesses and schools that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. It seems that not a week goes by without the Proud Boys, neo-Nazis or other extremist groups showing up at events to demonstrate their hatred and intolerance. This week was no exception.

  • White supremacists, including those aligned with extremist groups Patriot Front and the Proud Boys, showed up at First Christian Church in Katy, Texas, outside of Houston, to protest a drag fundraiser queen bingo to benefit Transparent Closet, a free clothing resource for transgender youth, the Daily Kos reported.
  • Far-right protesters held anti-Semitic and homophobic signs and also clashed with counter-protesters outside the church.

The context: These events, especially drag queen-like ones, have become hotbeds of clashes between far-right extremists and far-left activists aligned with the anti-fascist movement. Increasingly, protesters and counter-protesters are showing up at these events armed.

Catch up:Our investigation into a new legal case against Antifa, and more, last week in extremism

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