A year after one of the worst attacks on democracy the nation has seen since the Civil War, the QAnon community marked the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection by celebrating the “peaceful patriots” who stormed the Capitol, calling for “generals” to run the country, and spreading even more outrageous conspiracies about “breakaway civilizations” living underground.
Sadly for other QAnon believers, the anniversary of the Capitol riot was marked by sadness with at least one more prominent believer dying of COVID-19.
A year ago, QAnon played a central role in fomenting the anger and distrust that prompted thousands of people to attack the Capitol, and in the physical acts of violence on the day. At least 78 QAnon adherents were arrested for taking part in the Capitol riot, the most high profile of whom was Jacob Chansley, better known as the QAnon Shaman.
Standing bare-chested on the Senate floor, clad in furs and Viking horns and holding a spear, Chansley became one of the defining images of the insurrection. In November he was sentenced to over three years in jail for his role in the attack.
But on Thursday evening, Chansley marked the one-year anniversary of the insurrection by calling in from prison to a show hosted by QAnon conspiracy theorist Ann Vendersteel, to talk about a new conspiracy.
During the call, Chansley claimed—without evidence—that there is “a breakaway civilization” living deep underground where military bases are developing technology “several hundred years” more advanced than any technology available on the surface.
“We are going to see a whole new world, far beyond most people's imagining,” Chansley claimed.
Meanwhile, pastor, election truther, and Republican congressional candidate Jackson Lahmeyer hosted QAnon figurehead Michael Flynn on a live stream to speak about the anniversary of the riot.
Rather than speaking about the threat the attack posed to democracy in the U.S. or the radicalization of huge swathes of the American population, Flynn instead called the Biden administration “a takeover of the United States system of government,” adding that it was “a shift from democracy to socialism.”
Lahmeyer, who referred to President Joe Biden as “former vice president Biden” throughout the show, called what’s happening in Washington a “total communist takeover“ while holding up a copy of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.
On the anniversary of one of the most violent acts of domestic terrorism ever seen in the U.S., rather than calling for reconciliation, Flynn appeared to double down on comments he made last May, when he said there was no reason why a Myanmar-style military coup could not happen in the U.S.
“We need warriors, right now, we need champions, we need generals, we need soldiers,” Flynn said on Thursday. “That’s what we need running our country. Our country doesn’t need weak politicians anymore.”
Flynn also took time to praise the press conference held by GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene on Thursday, during which they called the attack a “fedsurrection,” repeating the QAnon-inspired conspiracy that some shadowy deep-state figures were responsible for staging the riot.
Over on Telegram, Ron Watkins, the QAnon influencer-turned-Congressional candidate, was commemorating the anniversary by claiming that Jan. 6 “will live on forever as the day when many PEACEFUL PATRIOTS stood up for their country asking for answers.”
Elsewhere on QAnon’s favorite messaging app, pro-Trump lawyer and major QAnon influencer Lin Wood was marking the anniversary by continuing his war of words with other right-wing figures, claiming that Flynn and Fox News host Tucker Carlson were part of the “deep state.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security issued in a memo Thursday warning that a video had been shared on a QAnon-friendly forum “calling for Congresspeople to be hung in front of the White House.” It was viewed over 60,000 times in the 48 hours leading up to the anniversary.
QAnon changed dramatically in 2021, but despite Q’s disappearance and former President Donald Trump’s election defeat, there remains a hardcore group of believers who are convinced that Q’s prophecies about mass arrests and Trump’s return to the White House are still going to come true.
One such believer is Dave Hayes, known to his followers as Praying Medic. On Thursday he marked the anniversary by claiming “God has already shown me the end of this [and] I have zero doubt that these people are going to be held accountable.”
But a growing number of QAnon believers will never get to see “the end of this.” On Thursday, hours after it was announced that QAnon podcaster Doug Kuzma had died from complications due to COVID-19, another QAnon influencer was dead.
Cirsten Weldon wrote a book about QAnon and regularly posted videos on YouTube about the conspiracy theory. Like almost all in the QAnon community, Weldon was an anti-vaxxer and had shared many conspiracy theories and false information about COVID-19 and the vaccines.
Weldon had recently traveled to California and on Dec. 30 was hospitalized and tested for COVID. She told her followers that she had refused treatment by the hospital and questioned why she would need oxygen.
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