To hear Patriot Front members tell it, David Alan Capito II is basically an antifa superspy — a man who is known by myriad aliases, including “Vyacheslav Arkangelskiy,” “Nick Vasiliy,” and “Vincent Washington.” This last name was the one Capito used to infiltrate Patriot Front and doxx members of the white nationalist group, according to a federal lawsuit brought in late July by five members whose identities were revealed.
What emerges from the 20-page court document is a cinematic tale of an epic doublecross. The suit decries how the left-wing activist conned Patriot Front into thinking he was a fellow traveler, “lying about his background and values,” only to expose its members through photography, secret recordings, and a massive computer hack. The suit pulls back the curtain, for the first time, on how 400 gigabytes of Patriot Front data came to be exposed by the whistleblower group Denial of Distributed Secrets, in conjunction with the media collective Unicorn Riot in early 2022.
Patriot Front is designated as a “white nationalist hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. But the litigation paints Capito the menacing party — describing him an affiliate “the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club, a heavily armed anarchist militia.” It casts him as a 3-D-printed “ghost gun” enthusiast, a practitioner of the martial art of Krav Maga, a seasoned lock picker, and perhaps even “immune” to pepper spray.
The suit’s narrative begins in July 2021, when “Capito joined Patriot Front with the goal of infiltrating the group and causing harm to its members.” Because of Capito’s past as a professional photographer, Patriot Front tapped him to document the group’s “local get-togethers” in the Pacific Northwest. But this trust was misguided, the suit maintains; “when nobody was watching, Capito abused his role by taking photographs of members’ license plates and other personal information.”
Capito also “ingratiated himself into the social circles of some Patriot Front members,” the suit claims, and then “used hidden microphones and cameras to record them.” In time, Capito also gained access to the Patriot Front computer server. And the suit alleges he not only launched a sophisticated “session hijack attack” — gaining unauthorized administrator-level privileges — but distracted from his exploit by simultaneously mounting a “denial of service attack” on the Patriot Front website. (Such an attack would have shut down the website and given the group’s IT team an immediate problem to focus on fixing.)
With this alleged hack, “Capito was able to download private chats and intercept video links” later posted in a data dump by DDoSecrets, the suit contends, and publicized by Unicorn Riot. The massive dump included more than 55,000 internal RocketChat messages and numerous behind-the-scenes videos. This leaked material showcased — among other rancid behavior — videos of Patriot Front members defacing murals that celebrate racial justice, burning LGBTQ pride flags in the woods, and thowing up Roman salutes and shouting “Sieg fucking Heil” when they thought they were off-camera.
The publication of private details about a group that emphasized operational secrecy turned the tables on Patriot Front. Members who had engaged in brazen acts of public intimidation now lived in fear of being called to account for the ugliness of their covert actions.
Capito’s under-cover exploit ended, the suit alleges, when he was “exposed by Patriot Front’s security team” in December 2021. But the fallout was just beginning.“Capito also used the confidential information he had improperly obtained to harass Patriot Front members by trespassing on their property,” the suit alleges, “slashing the tires on their automobiles, circulating flyers and posters in their neighborhoods, and other harassment tactics.”
(The lawsuit also refers to a 2019 temporary restraining order obtained against Capito regarding alleged stalking, quoting the petitioner as writing: “I am concerned for my safety as he has several firearms.”)
Five members of the group now are suing in federal court. Not because they allege Capito spread misinformation about them — they fully admit to being affiliates of the group. Rather, because they insist they had a reasonable “expectation of privacy with respect to their Patriot Front membership.” In other words, they assert they had a right to keep their extremist views hidden from those around them. These plaintiffs are seeking damages for what they deem “severe harms” — including job loss and ruptured family relations — that resulted from being identified as supporters of the group.
Are the lawsuit’s depictions of the left-wing defendant accurate? Capito couldn’t be reached for comment — and court records do not yet list an attorney for him. A representative of the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club offered to forward a message to Capito, but insists he “is not a PSJBGC member,” and added: “We are still not a militia.” (As Rolling Stone has reported, John Brown Gun Clubs are left-wing, anti-fascist groups that seek to provide a deterrent to armed right-wingers who menace progressive demonstrations.)
Other groups take issue with the accuracy of the Patriot Front members’ claims. The court document accuses DDoSecrets of having “assisted” Capito “in exploiting Patriot Front’s chat platform.” DDoSecrets, which is not a party to the suit, vigorously rejects that claim. “We did not assist anyone in any action involving the Patriot Front chat platform,” insists the site’s editor, Lorax Horne. “We have published the Patriot Front dataset, as we publish many other newsworthy datasets.” Co-founder Emma Best tells Rolling Stone: “Like everything else out of a white nationalist’s mouth, their allegations are entirely unreliable. DDoSecrets is a journalist 501(c)3, and we gladly helped Unicorn Riot publish the Patriot Front leak in that capacity.”
The lawsuit hinges on unwelcome public identification. Ironically, the parties here sue in their own names, filing in federal district court in Washington state and creating a public record of what the suit terms their “unpopular opinions.” By their own identification, they are:
- Paul Gancarz of Virginia
- Daniel Turetchi of Pennsylvania
- Colton Brown of Utah
- James Johnson of Washington state
- Amelia Johnson of Washington state
The nature of Patriot Front’s “unpopular opinions” is critical to understand in this context. The Anti-Defamation League calls Patriot Front a “white supremacist group” that has promoted “American Fascism.” The group’s logo literally features a fasces — a Roman symbol of sticks bound along with an ax, from which the word fascism is derived — surrounded by 13 stars. The secretive group wraps itself in red-white-and-blue patriotism, but its racist ideology insists that “membership within the American nation is inherited through blood” and reserved only for those of “pan-European identity.”
Patriot Front darkly advocates a “hard reset” for America. And the group is infamous for menacing flash-mob tactics, in which shouting members march in a uniform of khakis and blue polo shirts — obscuring their identities with white face gaiters, baseball caps and sunglasses. Five members of the group, including James Johnson, were recently convicted of “conspiracy to riot” at the 2022 Pride festival Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — where they were intercepted by FBI agents before they could descend on the celebrants.
The new litigation admits that Patriot Front engages in “provocative” activism, but avows that it is “non-violent.” (However an unrelated, new lawsuit, filed against Patriot Front on August 8, calls this characterization into question. This suit was filed by a Black man who claims to have been brutally bludgeoned by unidentified Patriot Front members during a flash march in Boston in 2022.)
The five plaintiffs suing Capito allege that being doxxed as Patriot Front supporters created a cascade of emotional and financial damages. Plaintiff “Gancarz was a civil engineer, earning approximately $107,000 a year,” its says. “He lost that job as result of Capito’s actions.” Plaintiff Turetchi “was discharged from the real estate brokerage where he was employed as a real estate agent and was unable to associate with any other brokerage,” the suit says, “thus preventing him from continuing to pursue his real estate career.”
Plaintiff Brown not only lost a $50,000 a year gig as an electrician’s assistant, he also “became estranged from his father, who required him to leave the Brown residence,” the suit records. “Brown thus found himself without a home and without a job” and is still having “difficulties finding employment.”
As for the Johnsons? The suit says they had to move after the doxxing resulted in “a hostile environment for [them] in their neighborhood.” For James Johnson, an HVAC technician, relocating “disrupted his relationship with his union, resulting in a one-third loss in his yearly income.” Ameilia Johnson was allegedly “fired from her job in which she was earning $60,000 a year.”
The plaintiffs’ Spokane-based lawyer did not respond to an interview request, including to discuss the irony of filing a lawsuit over doxxing that itself publicly discloses his clients as supporters of Patriot Front. The court case even emphasizes that the mission of Patriot Front members is to “reforge… our people, born to this nation of our European race… as a new collective capable of asserting our right to cultural independence.”
Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/white-nationalist-patriot-front-antifa-lawsuit-1234804251/