For the past two weeks, the Montreal Gazette has been reporting on a neo-Nazi network in Montreal.Major neo-Nazi figure recruiting in Montreal
An investigation by the Montreal Gazette revealed that Zeiger — one of North America’s most prominent neo-Nazis — was living in Montreal.
The investigation linked the online persona of Zeiger to Gabriel Sohier Chaput, an IT consultant living in Montreal’s Rosemont—La-Petite-Patrie neighbourhood.
After the initial report, a demonstration was held in the neighbourhood to “denounce the presence of this Nazi and other racists in our neighbourhood, or anywhere.”Montreal Storm chat room messages
The Montreal Gazette reviewed 12,000 messages obtained by local anti-fascists posted to the private Montreal Storm chat room. The messages offered a glimpse into the white supremacist mindset. Most of the members were young men who found it difficult to fit in.
They mostly prized their anonymity. A few, however, claimed to share their views publicly.
“I’ve been an open Nazi my whole life,” Jim B wrote shortly after joining the group.
Some of them wrote about their girlfriends, but most users either openly spoke about their hatred for women, or about how afraid they were to speak to them.
Over a one-and-a-half-year period, a core of between 10 and 15 members of Zeiger’s Montreal Storm group gathered in bars and apartments around the city.‘You never know what people are capable of’
They spoke about starting a race war, “gassing” Jewish people and one user joked that he would participate in a mass shooting. The Montreal Storm chat room began in August 2016 and appears to have been deactivated last winter.
Ryan Scrivens is a researcher at Concordia University who specializes in right-wing extremism. He says groups like Montreal Storm present a dilemma.
“The vast majority are keyboard warriors, they’re saying terrible things, but they’re just venting,” said Scrivens, a post-doctoral fellow. “I’d much rather they have these spaces online than in the real world.
“However there is that percentage that one of them could be the next (Alexandre) Bissonnette.”
Bissonnette, the Quebec City mosque shooter, frequented far-right websites and forums in the months before he murdered six people in their place of worship last year.How Charlottesville exposed the key players in the Quebec movement
The “Unite the Right” event in Charlottesville was meant to be a sort of coming-out party for the alt-right. The torch march, the shields, the clubs, the guns, the beatings — these were meant to show the world that the white nationalist movement was a force to be reckoned with. Charlottesville was going to be their Kristallnacht.
It didn’t go as planned.
In the backlash that followed Heyer’s death, the alt-right began to implode. Waves of men who participated had their identities revealed, lost their jobs and friends and dropped out of the movement.
Once word started to spread about Quebecers participating in the rally, anti-fascists in Montreal sprang into action. They began tracking down the identities of the locals who had participated in the violent demonstration. It didn’t take long to identify two of them: Shawn Beauvais-MacDonald and Vincent Bélanger-Mercure.Anti-fascists work to unmask neo-Nazi figures
Efforts to unmask Zeiger were just one front in a larger battle between anti-fascists and the so-called alt-right, especially the neo-Nazi wing that Zeiger represented.
Activists regularly infiltrate far-right networks to get intelligence and feed that information to others in the movement. Sometimes that means setting up fake accounts on far-right forum websites, or systematically listening to neo-Nazi podcasts as they are released. Other times, it means getting emails from anonymous sources.Online misogyny and the alt-right
Some of Montreal Storm’s more prominent members didn’t stumble into extremism by leafing through a dog-eared copy of Mein Kampf or The Turner Diaries. For many of these young men, the gateway to the alt-right began with a slow-burning hatred of women.
Some of these lonely young men met in forums where expert pickup artists promised tips to seduce women. Others organized around a video game culture that became obsessed with the notion that the industry is marginalizing young white men to make way for women.
Experts say the trend, if left unchecked, normalizes a culture of violence against women.Read more about the Montreal Storm neo-Nazi network
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