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Extreme supporters of Donald Trump have met news of his federal indictment with visions of violence and retribution.
At The Donald, a forum for ultra-MAGA Trump supporters, users demanded public executions and other forms of lynching to avenge the federal prosecution of Trump, for the alleged mishandling of state secrets at Mar a Lago after he was no longer president.
The calls for violence appeared in comment threads, responding to posts on the front page of the forum Thursday night, after news broke of Trump’s latest legal troubles. The most extreme comments were written in response to a fanciful post insisting “the only solution” to DOJ’s efforts to lock up Trump would be to vote him back into the presidency, so Trump could “pardon himself and begin arresting those guilty of insurrection and sedition.”
A user named “Belac186” offered a far deadlier fix: “The only way this country ever becomes anything like the Constitution says this country should be is if thousands of traitorous rats are publicly executed.” Commenter “DogFaceKilla” quickly chimed in to offer supplies: “I got some rope somewhere in the garage…” And “Heavy_Metal_Patriot” added: “Hans says we can borrow the flammenwerfer” — a reference to a battlefield flame thrower used to by German soldiers in World War II.
The proposal for mass killing struck user “BlackPilledMAGA” as going too far: “Doesn’t have to be thousands, just a few dozen would do. Shit would STOP immediately.” But user “Nerdrem1” insisted taking out a few elites wouldn’t make the difference, suggesting the number of dead required was on a genocidal scale: “Millions. The real problem is the people that vote for them, as long as they exist the problem can’t be solved.” A user named “Heavy_Metal_Patriot” concurred: “Correct.”
It might be tempting to dismiss these calls for mass murder as loose talk among angry MAGAdonians. Yet there is dark history here. In a previous iteration, The Donald was used to help plot and promote the violence at the Capitol in 2021, as detailed in the final report of the House Jan. 6 Committee, including by users who “openly discussed surrounding and occupying the U.S. Capitol.”
On The Donald, users can post a headline or a meme with hopes that others will “upvote” to the front page. Clicking on a post then brings up a comment section, where the most popular comments similarly rise to the top. The forum is rightly notorious as a place for bad Internet behavior. It began on Reddit, before getting banned for upvoting “rule-breaking content” and for moderators who “refused to meet our most basic expectations.” The forum then launched as a standalone site at TheDonald.win, but a top moderator pulled the plug on that site following the havoc of Jan. 6. Finally it was rebooted for third time at Patriots.win, where it continues to connect the Trump faithful — and offer the rest of us a disturbing window into the psyche of the MAGA fever swamps.
The Donald still bills itself as “a high-energy rally for supporters of President Trump” and the forum’s rules include exhortations to “Follow the Law” and to “Be Vigilant” because “your posts and comments may become news.” The forum did not respond to questions emailed to its press line about its moderation practices or how it handles open calls to violence.
As Rolling Stone has reported, The Donald has lately gravitated away from hero worship of the 45th president and toward noxious culture-war issues, particularly promoting hate toward LGBTQ people. (To wit: the top “Hot” post by Friday morning was a post bemoaning the endorsement of Pride month by a fast-casual restaurant chain: “Cracker Barrel went woke.”)
But big news events involving Trump still stoke the passions of extremist users. Katie McCarthy is an investigative researcher with the Anti-Defamation League who monitors The Donald closely. She recalls that users were also ”very angry” about Trump’s first indictment in New York, making posts that included “calls for civil war, violence, and retribution.”
In fact, the threat of civil war was on the minds of The Donald again on Thursday. Under a meme post showing Donald Trump with laser eyes and the text “YUGE MISTAKE,” forum posters wrote of preparing for violence.
User “horsepaste420” wrote: “I just feel like we’re going through the motions until all hell breaks loose.” A commenter named “Blackrider” concurred: “Same here dude. Stacking bags and loading mags. Just waiting for the calm to end, and the chaos to begin.” A responding to another user’s prediction of “civil war,” a commenter named ”pushbackv2” called such a conflict “inevitable” and predicted “it’s right around the corner.”
Elsewhere in the same comments section, user “vax_was_a_bioweapon” posted about the indictment as though it were interference in the democratic process — a development that would demand a deadly response: “If they steal the election again why are we talking about anything but dragging the political elite out of their homes and setting them on fire?” User “HawkTheSlayer” suggested a somewhat different lynching strategy: “I prefer tying them to vehicles and dragging them across concrete until they are ground down to nothing.”
A user whose handle is “-jjjjjjjjjj-” then appeared to reference a famous revolutionary quote from Thomas Jefferson about the “the tree of liberty” needing to be “refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” suggesting that Trump could jumpstart hostilities with a single phrase:
“The only thing that’s going to change the course of this country from its present heading of a Marxist dictatorship,” the commenter wrote, “is if Trump stands up in Court and says ‘to all of my supporters, the tree needs watering and now is the time.’”
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