Since the advent of cheap digital cameras, recording protests has become ubiquitous. After a scant few of these camerapeople were able to convert their willingness to stick a camera into other people’s faces into actual paying jobs, they have been followed by an endless parade of wannabes. The era of protests kicking off in 2016 has created a new tide of these amateur annoyances. Especially on the conservative end of the spectrum, the tide of fake news has carried with it the bloated carcasses of video: the far-right film clip.
Far-right film clips are a pathetic trope. They typically take the form of a rant, directed at the audience that might as well be a mirror; an attempt to “trigger” liberals by posting a poorly-edited clip of an argument happening at a protest along with a specious headline; or a glorification of real or imagined violence impacting left-wing activists.
Typical meaningless far-right film clip headline
One purpose of these videos is to try and gain views and followers for the people who post them, in order to increase their ad revenue on successive uploads. They shill their links all over social media, attempting to go viral, but rarely ever succeed. But there is also a more insidious logic at play. Like local far-right personality Joey Gibson, these videos create a space for racist violence. Joey Gibson’s rallies have served as organizing spaces for a spectrum of far-right groups ranging from overt white supremacist fascists, to “patriot” lackeys. In the same way that Joey Gibson’s clumsy rallies dishonestly mobilize abstractions of “freedom,” “peace,” and “free speech” in order to promote his own personal brand; the far-right media wannabes mobilize hateful rhetoric and violence in an effort to earn a buck. The videos’ glorification of violence against anti-fascist activists draws out fascists and white supremacists, making them fans of the videos’ creators. This, in turn, means that the far-right individuals with video cameras will go after more clips promoting violence, bigotry, and targeting of activists, hoping to gain ad revenue off of each view.
A typical headline glorifies repression of anti-fascist activists.
Furthermore, these videos themselves are often used to harass and intimidate activists, by revealing their identities and making them targets. Occasionally, this harassment bleeds over into actual violence, such as in 2016, when far-right Youtuber Michael Strickland pulled a gun and threatened a crowd at a protest against police brutality in Portland. He was found guilty of 21 charges.
A number of these far-right Youtubers have become “employees” of C.S.C. Media Group U.S., a right-wing media business founded by Vancouver, Washington’s Robert Raymond Zerfing. Zerfing began producing media under the name “The Common Sense Conservative” in March of 2015, and has become a frequent presence at street demonstrations in the Portland area, often showing up to harass and demean activists.
Zerfing has frequently taken an active role in spreading far right conspiracy theories couched in violent rhetoric. A recent example is his participation in stoking gullible right wing rage-fears about a “November 4th civil war.” In an October 31 livestream, Zerfing pontificated that “antifa is supposed to come after all of the patriots and conservatives and people who support Trump, and they’re supposed to take us out, and take our families out.” Zerfing also claimed that “millions of dollars” had been put into the November 4 event, and that “in Portland alone, in three days they were able to raise over fifty thousand dollars.” When a viewer asked where he was getting this information, Zerfing smiled knowingly and replied “Oh it’s out there, it’s definitely out there.” Aside from absurd performances of attempted demagoguery, Zerfing has also perpetrated disgusting attempts to smear the victims of Patriot Prayer-affiliated neo-nazi and alleged murderer Jeremy Christian as “social justice warriors… who tried to play hero.” Zerfing also associates closely with the violent “western chauvanist” and often-openly-white-nationalist organization called the “Proud Boys,” as he is quite close with his soon-to-be-former (pending divorce) brother-in-law, Proud Boy Donovon Flippo. Robert Zerfing also recently showed up at a Montavilla Neighborhood Association meeting in order to film and intimidate residents at the behest of Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson.
Robert Zerfing prepares his costume as he propagates conspiracy theories about an “antifa civil war” to be launched on November 4th.
Along with other Patriot Prayer members, Robert Zerfing pretended that a bar and restaurant industry Do-Not-Serve list was some sort of “hit-list” and challeged “antifa” to come to his house.
Portland OR resident Leo George Stratton is an employee of C.S.C. Media Group U.S. who has also long been filming and denigrating political opponents. Stratton has also taken part in attempts to doxx and harass local left-wing activists, sometimes also writing for the California nazi-sympathizing media outlet The Red Elephants. Stratton’s output often incites threats of violence against anti-fascist activists among his commenters. He also has displayed a willingness to organize and collaborate with known National Socialist Movement member and KKK Imperial Wizard Steven Shane Howard.
Leo Stratton conspires against political enemies with KKK Imperial Wizard and National Socialist Movement member Steven Shane Howard.
commenters on Leo Stratton’s youtube content regularly fantasize about murdering political opponents.
Leo Stratton threatens activists gathering to counter nazis.
Stratton provides an activist’s address to known fascist Kip Beebe.
Matthew Demetrius Cooper
Portland, Oregon’s Matthew Demetrius Cooper (aka “Deme”) also wears a badge identifying him as an employee of C.S.C. Media Group. Cooper has been seen physically attacking activists on multiple occasions and generally tries to antagonize leftists while filming their reactions. Cooper’s physical and verbal aggression toward political opponents has been increasing at recent Portland “Patriot Prayer” rallies. with Robert Zerfing, Deme Cooper also recently showed up at a Montavilla Neighborhood Association meeting in order to film and intimidate residents. In 2016, Deme Cooper was charged with two counts of forcible sodomy on a victim under age 13.
Deme Cooper shoves an anti-fascist activist down concrete stairs at an October 8, 2017 Patriot Prayer rally in Portland OR
Deme Cooper regularly hurls homophobic and misogynist invective at political opponents
Court documents showing that Deme Cooper was charged with two counts of forcible sodomy on a victim under age 13.
Justin Duane Sheets lives in Oregon City OR, and also wears an employee badge for CSC Media Group. Sheets can typically be seen filming activists on a large ipad-style tablet while yelling epithets at them and, increasingly, initiating shouting and shoving matches against them. Like Zerfing, Sheets is also highly prone to disseminating right wing conspiracy theory materials on his social media outlets. Justin Sheets’ physical and verbal aggression toward political opponents has also been increasing at recent Portland “Patriot Prayer” rallies.
Justin Sheets credulous regurgitation of right-wing conspiracy “antifa supersoldiers” joke
Justin Sheets shoves an anti-fascist protester at an October 8, 2017 Patriot Prayer rally in Portland OR
Justin Sheets films Tiny Toese shaking hands with neo-nazi Jarl Rockhill at an October 15 Patriot Prayer rally in Salem OR.
We recommend that those who oppose fascist organizing in their communities be wary of these far-right videographers, as they are likely to put people at risk of state repression, doxxing, and fascist harassment or violence.