Two Arizona arrests have ties to QAnon conspiracy theory movement
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Who is Q? A look at the Internet political conspiracy theory that is emerging at Donald Trump rallies. (Aug. 3)
One man parked his self-made armored car on the bridge next to the Hoover Dam. Another occupied a cement plant in Tucson, convinced it was involved in an international child sex-trafficking ring.
Both men were followers of a conspiracy theory propagated online by a mysterious character known as “Q.” The two incidents, both this summer in Arizona, appear to be the first actions resulting in arrests of people who have taken the conspiracy from the virtual world and into the real one.
Some followers of the QAnon theory took prominent spots at rallies for President Donald Trump in July. Their signs, T-shirts and chants have brought international attention to a conspiracy theory that sprouted on the web less than a year ago.
Here is a primer on QAnon:
The QAnon theory
Someone posted a series of cryptic questions in October on the bulletin board website 4chan.
The person later claimed to have “Q clearance,” a reference to the top-secret clearance provided by the Department of Energy, leading to the nickname of Q.
The theory spooled out by Q in a series of increasingly cryptic questions and clues, known in this world as “crumbs,” involves a theory that turns accepted facts on their ear.
In the QAnon theory, the Robert Mueller investigation is not going after Trump. Instead, Mueller is focused on crimes committed by former President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton and his wife, and former 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Trump is working with investigators to expose widespread corruption, in the QAnon world. Some of the crimes, according to the theory, involve pedophilia.
How this began, or why, is the subject of speculation.
Some suggest that whomever the perpetrator or perpetrators are designed this hoax to see how far people’s beliefs could be stretched. Or it could be a hoax designed for pure entertainment that spun out of control.
Or, there’s the chance a high-ranking member of the “deep state” is choosing to dole out the truth in a series of slightly coded messages and questions.
Although QAnon started on the 4chan website, it has moved to Facebook, Twitter and other websites. YouTube has videos where people try to make sense of the clues, tying them to real life news events.
Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet. So adherents to this theory look for the number 17 as a marker of signs and clues.
President Trump, on Twitter, as recently as May, would complain about the “13 Angry Democrats” on the Mueller investigation. On July 29, he started referring to the “17 Angry Democrats.”
Much also was made in the QAnon world when Trump, during a July 31 rally in Tampa, said that before he was elected, he had only been to D.C. “17 times.”
Trump repeated the phrase four times, which adherents thought was an acknowledgment of a movement. Although, it could also be indicative of the president’s off-the-cuff speaking style.
The theory has received some discussion by mainstream conservative commentators, like Sean Hannity. Alex Jones, the radio and online host who entertains all sorts of conspiracies, backed QAnon before labeling it too contaminated to be believed.
Former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling, who hosts a show on Breitbart, has said that he has explored the QAnon world. He has not said whether he believes it, but has tweeted that it is interesting that a mere mention of the theory “makes liberals go mental.”
Schilling, at Chase Field for an alumni game in early August, declined a request to talk about QAnon.
“No, no, thanks though,” he told a reporter.
Schilling then turned his attention back to a highlight reel of former Diamondbacks players on the stadium’s big screen. The video was narrated by former Schilling teammate Mark Grace, who coincidentally as a player wore No. 17.
The Hoover Dam incident
On June 15, Matthew Phillip Wright drove a self-made armored vehicle onto the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman bridge that spans the Colorado River and straddles the Arizona-Nevada border.
According to court documents, Wright, 30, of Henderson, Nevada, parked his truck perpendicular to traffic lanes and blocked the bridge.
The vehicle, which authorities said Wright had appeared to be living in for a while, had portal openings for guns. Wright, according to court papers, had two rifles and two handguns in the vehicle, along with 900 rounds of ammunition.
During his standoff, Wright held out a sign that read: “Release the OIG report.”
It appeared to be a reference to the Office of Inspector General report regarding the actions of former FBI director James Comey. The report had been released, but according to the QAnon theory, a second report was being withheld.
Wright, according to police, ended his standoff after less than an hour and drove into Arizona along U.S. 93. Officers employed stop sticks to flatten his tires. Wright drove onto a dirt road heading towards the river. But his truck stopped and officers arrested him without incident.
In a letter Wright wrote from jail, he said he was “no seditionist, nor do I wish to fight the government.”
He said he understood that only a few in power were evil and corrupt and that a “greater good” was aiming to stop it.
“I simply wanted the truth on behalf of all Americans, all of humanity for that matter,”
Towards the end of his letter, Wright used this phrase: “For where we go one, we go all.”
It is a quote used on message boards in the QAnon community, sometimes shortened to “WWG1WGA.”
The letter was sent to various law enforcement officials, including the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the FBI, the CIA and the Secret Service. It also was sent to the White House.
He faces state charges of terrorism and a possible life sentence.
In a July 17 hearing, a Mohave County judge raised Wright’s bail from $25,000 to $1 million.
The Tucson homeless camp
If an international child-trafficking ring were indeed operating, it would need to operate somewhere.
A man who led a group of veterans in Tucson thought he had found it.
Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer, 39, was one of the leaders of Veterans On Patrol, a group that started a series of camps offering aid to homeless veterans.
The group made news in 2017 when it was forced to abandon an encampment near the Loop 202 and McKellips Road near Mesa. After starting another camp in the Phoenix area, Meyer said he was moving the veterans to an encampment he started in Tucson.
In May, Veterans On Patrol alerted Tucson police to a lot near Valencia Road and Interstate 19. It had been a homeless encampment, but, according to Tucson police, the group told officers it was being used for criminal activity, including possible trafficking.
Tucson police investigated, even bringing out a cadaver dog to search for what was claimed to be a body buried on the site. The department, in a news release, said there was no evidence that criminal activity had taken place there.
That did not satisfy Meyer.
He became convinced that a Cemex plant was the site of the sex trafficking ring, police said. He occupied a tower in the plant for nine days, police said.
Police again investigated but, they said, found nothing.
Meyer agreed to leave the Cemex property and not return, police said. But he violated that agreement by returning to the tower and occupying it.
Police arrested Meyer on July 22. He faces municipal charges of trespassing.
On his Facebook page, Meyer makes reference to the QAnon movement. On July 26, he posted a status of “#WWG1WGA.”
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