The QAnon movement, which gained significant traction among Trump supporters in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, may have begun online – but its members gather in person, too.
CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan attended such a meeting two weeks before the presidential election in Arizona and recorded what happened.
He hoped to blend into the crowd as the press wasn’t allowed to attend (although they didn’t stop him from signing up as a member of the public), but this proved impossible as he and his colleague were among the only people in attendance wearing masks.
The QAnon conspiracy theory is, really, a sprawling network of different conspiracy theories propagated by the far-right: as well as overlapping with such conspiracies as Frazzledrip, Pizzagate, the New World Order and so on, it also – clearly – has crossovers with anti-maskers and anti-lockdown protesters.
Another fairly consistent aspect is that its supporters are fans of Trump. In the meeting O’Sullivan attended, a video of Trump being asked about QAnon on NBC was played and the members in attendance agreed that he didn’t disavow them.
NEW: Inside a QAnon meeting in Arizona.
Some attendees went on to DC on January 6th. One is in jail. Another's hom… https://t.co/lwMk5rsPdL
Trump repeatedly refused to condemn QAnon in the run-up to the election: during a White House Press conference he responded to a journalist’s question about the movement by saying “I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate!”
Pre-eminently, a speaker at the QAnon meeting in O’Sullivan’s report says:
“We are conditioned from the time we are children in this country to always think that violence is a horrible, horrible thing. Until we go back and reflect on a revolutionary war. They picked up guns, at some point, and said enough. Until we reflect on the civil war. We ended slavery by picking up guns and killing people with them. We don’t want that to have to happen, but it always has to be something in the back of your mind.”
Five people were killed during the Capitol riots less than two months later. At least two Capitol rioters were in attendance at the meeting O’Sullivan filmed, including the “QAnon shaman” Jake Angeli, dressed in his animal fur and horns.
Although Trump lost the election – and some QAnon supporters were forced to admit that their movement was a sham – its presence and supporters haven’t completely dissolved from US politics.