Trump supporters and members of far-right extremist groups who took part in the violent insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from online crowdfunding sites by portraying themselves as maligned American patriots, martyrs and “political prisoners”.
Several of the highest-profile participants in the “stop the steal” insurrection which attempted to disrupt Joe Biden’s certification as US president are raising substantial sums on fundraising sites. They include members of the far-right Proud Boys and many of the 6 January individuals being detained in a Washington DC jail, awaiting trial for allegedly attacking police officers.
In their donations appeals they are drastically rewriting history. Their scripts transform 6 January from what it was – a violent attempt to overthrow the democratic results of the 2020 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump – into the fantasy that it was a peaceful and patriotic protest to uphold voter integrity.
“It’s shocking to say, but America now has legitimate political prisoners, en masse,” says the fundraising page titled American Gulag for Jan 6 Political Prisoners which has so far raised $41,000. The page, created by Jim Hoft, founder of the conspiracy site Gateway Pundit, claims that there are “scores of political prisoners wrongfully imprisoned as a result of the protest on January 6th”.
Scott Fairlamb, the first person to be sentenced for assaulting a police officer, describes the insurrection on his fundraising page as a “sea of America loving, American Flag waving patriots who came together from all over our great nation in support of our 45th President Donald Trump”.
Fairlamb has so far raised more than $38,000 towards his goal of $100,000. He pleaded guilty to the assault and was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
The framing of his appeal to potential donors contrasts sharply with what actually happened on the day. Hundreds stormed the Capitol and five people died, including a police officer, with scores more injured.
Court documents point to videos that capture Fairlamb climbing scaffolding on the Capitol building and punching and shoving a police officer on the West Front of the complex. Another video catches him wielding a collapsible baton and shouting: “What patriots do? We fuckin’ disarm them and then we storm the fuckin’ Capitol.”
Jake Chansley, the self-styled QAnon Shaman whose bearskin headdress and horns became an enduring image of the insurrection, has so far raised more than $10,000 on his online page, “Free Jake”. In his plea for money, he says he went to Washington on 6 January “answering the call that President Trump put out to …….