News, Culture & Society

Trump supporters call Ashli Babbitt a ‘martyr’ in their ‘revolution’

The Trump supporter shot dead by Capitol Hill police as she attempted to climb through a broken window into the Capitol is being hailed a martyr by online extremists who have described the bullet that killed her as, ‘the first shot in a revolution,’ DailyMail.com can reveal.

Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, 35, was killed as Trump loyalists stormed Congress Wednesday, halting President-elect Joe Biden’s confirmation with violence and destruction that left four of the mob dead and sent shockwaves around the world.

Now a murder hunt is under way for the pro-Trump rioters who killed Capitol Hill officer Brian Sicknick, who died late Thursday after apparently being hit over the head with a fire extinguisher.

But far from being chastened, ‘Stop the Steal’ conspiracy theorists, right-wing militia groups and white supremacists are ‘focused on trying to keep the energy up.’ 

And we can reveal that, as outrage grows over lax security that allowed protesters to breeze through police lines into the Capitol, Trump loyalists are making plans to descend on the nation’s capital once more this Saturday.

Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot dead by Capitol Hill police in Wednesday’s riot, is being hailed a martyr by online extremists 

Online Trump extremists are saying the bullet that killed the 35-year-old army vet is 'the first shot in a revolution.' A mob of Trump supporters are seen storming the Capitol

Online Trump extremists are saying the bullet that killed the 35-year-old army vet is ‘the first shot in a revolution.’ A mob of Trump supporters are seen storming the Capitol 

Just days before Wednesday's insurrection, extremists posted detailed maps and plans to storm the Capitol on pro-Trump forums, DailyMail.com can reveal. 'There needs to be dead traitors after this,' one post read

Just days before Wednesday’s insurrection, extremists posted detailed maps and plans to storm the Capitol on pro-Trump forums, DailyMail.com can reveal. ‘There needs to be dead traitors after this,’ one post read

Jared Holt, Visiting Research Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and an expert in online disinformation and extremism told DailyMail.com: ‘Since Wednesday’s events, we’ve seen extremist communities really focused on trying to keep the energy up.

A murder hunt is under way for the pro-Trump rioters who killed Capitol Hill officer Brian Sicknick (pictured) who died late Thursday after apparently being hit over the head with a fire extinguisher

A murder hunt is under way for the pro-Trump rioters who killed Capitol Hill officer Brian Sicknick (pictured) who died late Thursday after apparently being hit over the head with a fire extinguisher

‘They have portrayed the woman who was shot and killed as a martyr for the cause, talking about the shot that killed her as, ”the first shot fired in a revolution,” and there are developing plans for a Second Amendment rally in DC on Saturday though the details have not been hashed out yet.’

Holt also revealed that he has monitored, ‘a lot of conversation…looking towards the inauguration,’ but cautioned that it was too early to tell how much would come to fruition and noted that he and his team are not aware of any concrete plans.

He said: ‘There were, I believe, four or five different pro-Trump events that were formally scheduled that brought people into the city.

‘I think if similar events are organized [this weekend] a lot of people that have similar sentiments or connections to extremist movements will turn up in DC again.’

The revelation comes as both the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms and the Capitol Hill Police chief were ordered to quit by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the wake of the fiasco.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has imposed a State of Emergency on the city to last 15 days and an ‘unscalable’ fence is being erected around the Capitol’s perimeter.

Critics have also pointed to the fact that Trump has being heralding this day since December 19 when he first announced his intentions to hold a rally January 6 telling loyalists, ‘it’s going to be wild.’ 

In one message shared with DailyMail.com a veteran tells fellow Trump loyalists that, before leaving for DC he told his children, 'daddy might not come home.' And added that he has sworn to defend his country, 'against all enemies, both Foreign and Domestic'

In one message shared with DailyMail.com a veteran tells fellow Trump loyalists that, before leaving for DC he told his children, ‘daddy might not come home.’ And added that he has sworn to defend his country, ‘against all enemies, both Foreign and Domestic’

DailyMail.com can reveal that, just days before the insurrection, extremists posted detailed maps of the Capitol on pro-Trump forums along with the battle-cry, ‘Surround the Swamp,’ and ‘floated’ the idea of storming it.

DFR Lab research fellow Holt said: ‘Just two or three days before the rallies took place there were plans shared about surrounding the US Capitol and those plans included a map of all the tunnels going into the Capitol and different entry points.’

Online expert Jared Holt (pictured) told DailyMail.com, 'Since Wednesday's events, we've seen extremist communities really focused on trying to keep the energy up'

Online expert Jared Holt (pictured) told DailyMail.com, ‘Since Wednesday’s events, we’ve seen extremist communities really focused on trying to keep the energy up’

But, while Holt and his colleagues frequently share material with law enforcement, it is, he said, extremely difficult for authorities to take action in the absence of any concrete plans.

He said, ‘There was not, from our monitoring, any clear stated logistical plan for storming the Capitol but it was an idea that was frequently floated among the users of these communities.’

Holt has been monitoring communications between extremists on both mainstream and alternative social media platforms throughout Trump’s presidency but, in recent weeks, has seen them use, ‘increasingly desperate and heated rhetoric regarding the transition of power in this country.’

He explained, ‘Working for the Atlantic Council’s DFR Lab I’ve been focused on extremist activity online and the threats that it poses to the democratic process. 

‘Earlier I was looking at extremist attempts to intimidate voters at polls [more recently it has been] regarding the transition of power in this country and shifting towards discussing the need to potentially take matters into their own hands.’

The conversations take place on pro-Trump forums as well as social media platforms such as GAB, Parler and MeWe. These and others are favored by extreme groups because they take a light hand moderating content more often banned on Facebook and Twitter.

Holt and his colleagues say they have witnessed an online acceleration of a loyal fervor that, he explained, has its roots in the beginning of Trump’s presidency. 

An unidentified loved one sent Babbitt a portentous text message as she flew to DC for the protest, according to an apparent screenshot from her phone shared on social media. 'Be safe. I cannot lose you,' the sender wrote

An unidentified loved one sent Babbitt a portentous text message as she flew to DC for the protest, according to an apparent screenshot from her phone shared on social media. ‘Be safe. I cannot lose you,’ the sender wrote

DC Police Chief Robert Contee said four died at the protests on Wednesday – Babbitt lies wounded after being shot by Capitol Police

DC Police Chief Robert Contee said four died at the protests on Wednesday – Babbitt lies wounded after being shot by Capitol Police

He explained, ‘Something really unique about these extremist movements during the Trump presidency is that, throughout history, right-wing extremism has tended to be antagonistic towards federal government in the United States.

‘But with Trump, for the first time, a lot of these extremist movements saw a political leader who they thought sympathized with their cause and they rallied behind him.

‘Leading up to the election and in the time period after they have looked to Trump and largely taken their cues from him.

‘They really believed eventually the results of the election would be modified to present him the win that they believe he successfully earned and that they would defeat the nefarious forces they believe exist in federal government.’

When this appeared not to be happening talk turned towards wanting to take action.

Among the alarming conversations Holt has witnessed online were discussions of overwhelming authorities with the sheer size of the crowd in order to violate laws.

He said, ‘For example in DC you can’t carry firearms unless you have a DC permit so there were conversations of, ‘well, if enough of us do this they can’t stop it.’

In messages shared with DailyMail.com there are references to being ‘locked and loaded’ and numerous protesters state their intention to be armed at Wednesday’s DC rally. One would-be protester asked, ‘If you aren’t marching armed…is there a point to marching at all?’

According to Holt there were conversations in these communities between users telling each other they were ready to, ‘make the ultimate sacrifice in order to ‘save the country,’ in their words.’ 

An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while Trump supporters gather in front of the Capitol on Wednesday

An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while Trump supporters gather in front of the Capitol on Wednesday

Supporters of Donald Trump are seen inside the US Capitol after rioters breached security and entered the Capitol Wednesday

Supporters of Donald Trump are seen inside the US Capitol after rioters breached security and entered the Capitol Wednesday 

That pride in Trump supporters' 'achievement' may yet prove the downfall of many, as the FBI has solicited public help to identifying protesters videoed and pictured swarming the Capitol

That pride in Trump supporters’ ‘achievement’ may yet prove the downfall of many, as the FBI has solicited public help to identifying protesters videoed and pictured swarming the Capitol

In one message shared with DailyMail.com a veteran tells fellow Trump loyalists that, before leaving for DC he told his children, ‘daddy might not come home.’ And added that he has sworn to defend his country, ‘against all enemies, both Foreign and Domestic.’

Violent rhetoric was directed against perceived adversaries in the form of Black Live Matters and anti-fascist groups.

Holt said, ‘There was a lot of chatter and excitement about going into the streets and spilling the blood of people they believe are communist or sympathetic to those causes.’

Later, he added, talk ‘shifted to feeling antagonistic towards police in DC who they believed were sympathetic towards the groups they disliked.’

On a few sparse occasions individual local and federal officials were mentioned as targets.

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s debacle many extremists who were not on the ground took to social media to spread misinformation stating that any trouble was caused by BLM protesters or Antifa.

Holt said, ‘There was a kind of joke that, half of the right-wing social media was trying to claim that Antifa was responsible for what was happening at the Capitol while the other half was uploading pictures of themselves breaking into it.’

That pride in their ‘achievement’ may yet prove the downfall of many, as the FBI has solicited public help to identifying protesters videoed and pictured swarming the Capitol.

President Donald Trump released a short video Thursday night where he blasted the 'heinous' attack and called for national 'healing' – and called for an 'orderly' and 'seamless' transition to a new administration

President Donald Trump released a short video Thursday night where he blasted the ‘heinous’ attack and called for national ‘healing’ – and called for an ‘orderly’ and ‘seamless’ transition to a new administration

For his part Holt acknowledged the difficulty in policing the online world that he researches and in which so much hatred thrives. But it is, he said, something with which the next administration will have to grapple if positive change is to be made.

He said, ‘Extremist researchers and far right reporters have been cautioning people for years that what has come alive during the Trump era won’t go quietly into the night when Trump leaves.

‘Even once Biden takes office we’re still going to have millions of people that hold false beliefs that the election was the result of some sort of nefarious coup in this country and anti-government extremist groups and militia movements have had their numbers swell leading up to and after the election.

‘The question now is how President elect Joe Biden can attempt to mend the country and combat the threat that these groups may present during his administration.

He added, ‘The topic of online moderation and accountability for social media companies, and their complacency in terms of this sort of activity on their platforms, has to be part of a solution to what we have seen play out.

‘Until law makers and regulators really attempt to grapple with that I don’t think we’re going to see lasting solutions to these problems.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk