Two people have been arrested after police received a tipoff about an apparent threat to attack a vote-counting center in Philadelphia on Thursday night.Law enforcement told local media it received a tip-off at 10 p.m. that a group of people — possibly a family — was traveling from Virginia in a silver Hummer to carry out an attack on the Pennsylvania Convention Center.Video footage of the vehicle shows it covered in stickers promoting the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, as well as associated slogans such as “the great awakening” and “where we go one we go all.” An American flag also hung from the back of the car.
Police were warned that two or three men were traveling from Virginia armed with AR-15s, an NBC affiliate reported. Police arrested two men close to the convention center and after obtaining a search warrant searched the car and seized a number of weapons, though they have not specified how many or what type of weapons are involved. CBS Philly reported that police located the vehicle in the 200 block of North 13th Street, right next to the convention center. Local TV station WAVY reported that the Department of Homeland Security has joined the investigation. Neither DHS nor the Philadelphia Police Department responded to a request for comment. QAnon is a baseless conspiracy theory that asserts President Donald Trump is leading a fight to uncover a Satanic, cannibalistic, underground child sex trafficking ring operated by the Democrats and the Hollywood elite. Trump has repeatedly refused to disavow the movement, which has surged in popularity in recent months.There were tense scenes outside the Convention Center throughout Thursday as supporters of Democratic nominee Joe Biden faced off with supporters of President Donald Trump. There were hundreds of people from each camp present, with Trump supporters chanting, “Four more years” and Biden supporters chanting “Count every vote.”The tip-off to police came just hours after Trump and his team once again claimed victory in Pennsylvania, baselessly asserting there was voter fraud taking place.
On Thursday a Facebook group created by GOP operatives called “Stop the Steal” racked up over 350,000 new members in less than 24 hours. Members of the group shared conspiracy theories and disinformation as well as advocating gun violence and “civil war” to fight back against the perceived vote-rigging.Facebook ultimately shut the group down because “it was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.” A number of high-profile Republican figures and Trump supporters have been openly advocating for Trump supporters to travel to Pennsylvania as the vote-counting is continuing.“Philadelphia looks like a cesspool electorally," Fox News anchor Lou Dobbs said on Thursday. "Why in the world wouldn’t the Republicans surround that thing and, if you will, you know, at least apply a little, what would you call it, some sort of scent?”Meanwhile, Republican political consultant Harlan Hill, who worked on Trump’s reelection campaign, tweeted: “I’m going to Philly tomorrow with a team. This is war.”