The Face of Anti-Fascism
Trymaine Lee: One year ago today, on January 6th, 2021, I was interviewing Jamie Harrison about the two big Senate victories the Democrats had in Georgia.
Jamie Harrison: And so not only was Reverend Warnock able to be victorious, he lapped the field. (CROWD VOICES)
Lee: Toward the end of the conversation, I looked at up at the TV and saw chaos building in Washington D.C. Over the next several hours, we watched scenes of violence and some bloodshed (CROWD VOICES) as rioters forced their way into the Capitol and right-wing extremists flooded the Senate floor.
(CROWD VOICES) Members of Congress had to be rushed to safety. As a country, we spent the past year parsing how we got to that moment. We analyzed the security failures and took a hard look at the very toxic, very dangerous brand of pols that fueled it. (CROWD VOICES)
Liz Cheney: All of us who are elected officials must do our duty to prevent the dismantling of the rule of law and to ensure that nothing like that dark day in January ever happens again.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: Telling the truth shouldn't be hard. Fighting on January 6th, that was hard. When the fence came down, that was hard. Why is telling the truth hard? I guess in this America, it is.
Lee: But some people are actually out in the streets engaging with right-wing extremists, those same groups who were responsible for January 6th, fighting them and trying to take them down.
Jenkins: So what brings you guys here today? Huh? I just saw you put some "White Lives Matter" stickers up on the wall over there.
Male Voice: Right.
Jenkins: Don't do that, man. Can't do it. Can't do it. Can't do it. Nope sorry.
Male Voice: This is public property.
Jenkins: No, you cannot do it.
Male Voice: This is public property, man.
Jenkins: You want to try that? (ARGUING VOICES) You want to try that?
Lee: As the attack on the Capitol unfolded, people on the internet went into full detective mode and immediately began working to expose the identities of rioters. Many of the rioters were publicly shamed. Some were actually fired from their jobs.
Many others were arrested because of the information shared online. This practice of punishing someone by sharing their personal details over the internet without their consent is called doxxing. And many people trace this tactic of doxxing far-right extremists back to one man.
Jenkins: In order for us to defeat the hate mongering that goes on in the country today, we are going to have to understand who they are, and what they are about, and where they are, and how they operate. You can't do that without doxxing. You cannot do that without putting all the information out there about those individuals.
Lee: I'm Trymaine Lee. And this is Into America. One year after the January 6th attack, I spoke to Daryle Lamont Jenkins, a Black activist, about his decades-long crusade against far-right extremists and how he's influenced a new generation of anti-fascist fighters.
Jenkins: I was very happy to see that there was a bunch of people that decided that we are going to find out who they are. And we're going to let the world know who they are. And it produced some positive results. It produced some folks getting their comeuppance, or will soon get their comeuppance.
Lee: Daryle Lamont Jenkins is the founder of One People's Project, and a man that Wired Magazine has referred to as the anti-fascist doxxing guru.
Jenkins: Oh, make no bones about it. If doxxing is my legacy, it's a good legacy to have.
Lee: Daryle has made a name for himself by spreading the identities of white supremacists and showing up at right-wing rallies. In 2002, he was among the anti-hate protesters in York, Pennsylvania, when a Neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd. In 2017, he was pepper sprayed at Charlottesville. And he's literally gotten into fist fights with right-wing thugs. But on January 6th, he wasn't at the Capitol, a choice he still regrets.
Jenkins: I still kick myself every and now and again because I wasn't there. Because I think that if I was, chances are we would probably get a little bit more of a idea as to what was goin' on. Because remember, a lot of the footage, a lot of the sounds and things that we have today comes from that side. If any of us were out there, we probably would have seen a lot more of what they would not have wanted us to see.
Lee: For more than 20 years, Daryle and One People's Project have been monitoring and confronting white supremacists and right-wing extremists. But even after all of his experience, Daryle says he was still surprised at how bad January 6th actually was.
Jenkins: In regards to the day, why I was surprised that things popped off the way it did, I was just amazed at the fact that we allowed it to happen. It's one thing when the powers that be let us get hurt. When they allow themselves to get hurt, that was what shook me a little bit. I was like, "Now, wait a minute. What are you guys doin'? You know, so--
Lee: (LAUGH) Right.
Jenkins: --when I heard they were shuttin' it down, I expected a few people to be in the chambers yelling and screaming. I expected that to happen. When they shut down the proceedings, I felt that they just needed to clear out some people and get back to work.
When they started talkin' about how folks were just bursting past police, I said, "Oh, brother." When I saw them on the Senate floor, I said, "Oh, good grief." And then when I heard that the police officer was killed, I said, "Okay, we crossed the threshold."
Lee: And since then, his drive to fight has only intensified. Daryle was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1968, a couple months after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Daryle says that while his mother was still in the hospital recovering from his birth, a stray bullet crashed into their apartment. Right then and there, his father moved the family out of the city.
Jenkins: Moved us down to Somerset, New Jersey. So I grew up in the suburbs. However, my father made sure we as a family understood what exactly it meant us being growing up the way we did, that we are one of the lucky ones. And we cannot forget (LAUGH) that we have some brothers and sisters that are gonna need our help.
So I took that to heart. I took that to heart. I mean, I studied the history. History was my thing. I mean, I grew up a nerd doin' nothin' but reading the encyclopedia, every single volume that was in our house. I learned a lot about various individuals in history, particularly those that, let's just say, they don't want us to talk about now.
Lee: Daryle says that even at a young age, he was educating himself about the Klan, clipping newspaper articles and saving photos from rallies.
Jenkins: My attitude growin' up was, "Okay, what happened to all the people that we were dealin' with in the civil rights movement?" Why don't I see that nonsense going on anymore?
Jenkins: I wanted to be a part of whatever fights them.
Lee: On his 18th birthday, Daryle joined the Air Force. That's when he began to understand the full complexity of racism in this country, and that white supremacy didn't necessarily come with a white hood.
Jenkins: I mean, if you had a swastika, if you was burnin' a cross, if you said the "N" word or some nonsense like that, yeah, okay, now I know you're a bad person. But Ronald Reagan never said the "N" word. So I didn't think he was as bad as all those other guys. And all these characters that will be coming up, I didn't realize how bad they were until I joined the Air Force. And in the Air Force my job was a police officer. My colleagues, (LAUGH) let's just say some of them are Oath Keepers now.
Lee: The Oath Keepers are a far-right, anti-government militia organization founded in 2009. Over a dozen Oath Keepers have been arrested for their role in the January 6th Capitol riot. By the late '80s, Daryle was starting to feel like the Air Force just wasn't the right place for him. And then...
Jenkins: On August 11, 1988, I was gonna go see Run-DMC. The lineup was Stetasonic, EPMD, Public Enemy--
Jenkins: --DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince and Run-DMC. (CROWD NOISE) Republican, when you hit that stage. Epiphany, (LAUGH) epiphany.
Lee: The world opened up, and there it was. (LAUGH)
Jenkins: They did their intro that you hear at the beginning of It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back. (CROWD NOISES AND SIREN) And Chuck D and Flavor Flav broke out into Public Enemy No. 1. Then it was My Uzi Weighs a Ton. And, you know, everybody just went nuts.
Lee: (CROWD NOISE) That's crazy. (LAUGH)
Jenkins: Because they came out in military gear. So I was already set on that. (CROWD NOISE) But when they started talkin'--
Archival Recording: (SIREN) You better know shit, or not be tellin' my shit.
Jenkins: --(LAUGH) I was like, "I am in the wrong business." (SIREN)
Lee: Like, first of all it's a hell of a lineup though. That lineup is legendary.
Jenkins: Oh, man.
Lee: I hope you have a flier or somethin' somewhere, a T-shirt somewhere, first of all.
Jenkins: No, no, no. Try this: As they were setting up Public Enemy's stage, you just hear the chatter. Like, "Who's Public Enemy." "Oh, they're all right."
Lee: Yeah. (LAUGH)
Jenkins: They hit that stage, (LAUGH) oh, man, to this day, that was one of my favorite concerts. That was one of my favorite concerts.
Jenkins: No, no, no. It was my favorite concert.
Lee: Life-changing it sounds like.
Jenkins: Especially considering that at the time I was wearing an Air Force police officer's uniform. That was very important for me to realize that, "You might not be going in the right direction here." At least personally, I didn't feel I was goin' in the right direction.
Lee: Around the same time that Daryle attended that concert, he started keeping track of the white supremacists who were making regular appearances on TV. And then one Oprah episode in particular, one about skinheads, piqued his interest.
Jenkins: When I saw the episode, I mean, I've seen Klansmen and white supremacists on these shows before. And I said, "You know what? I'm gonna start documenting this. I'm gonna start saving all these videos and all these appearances. And I'm gonna start tryin' to put a puzzle together." And that's what I just started doing. Whenever I saw a news broadcast of some white supremacist, I would just hit "record" on my VCR. (RECORDER NOISE)
Lee: Daryle ended up recording hours and hours of footage, documenting white supremacists on TV and radio in metro New York. (RECORDER NOISE)
Jenkins: (RECORDER NOISE) I always tell people that New York was kind of like the Petri dish. It was here where all those white supremacists, all those Neo-Nazis learned how to engage on a level that didn't get 'em trouble immediately.
Lee: (LAUGH) Right.
Jenkins: I mean, it's fun. (LAUGH) Because here, you know, the "I'm not racist" routine really, really took hold. The way they did it was just basically attacking, as we very well know, Black people for being the real racists. They just made us look like the anti-Semites and such. And bear in mind, I was listening to this while I was in my gate shack at Langley (LAUGHTER) wearing a policeman's uniform. It was six months later I got kicked out.
Jenkins: It was six months later I got kicked out 'cause I mouthed off to one of my superiors.
Lee: When Daryle left the military, he kept following white nationalists and other right-wing extremists. But it was hard for him to spread the information that he had.
Jenkins: Thank God for the internet. In 2000 when the internet happened, that gave me the tools to put out there around the globe what it is that I had been tryin' to tell people for by that point ten years. I was really gettin' myself involved. But basically, I was observing. I was documenting. I was trying to figure out how I was going to contribute. And they always say, "The pen is mightier than the sword." And as I once told somebody I was looking for a very, very powerful sword. (LAUGH)
Lee: Yeah. (LAUGH) Well, it seemed like you found one there. It seemed like you found your sword.
Jenkins: And it worked. Because it also showed that it was more than just speaking out. It helped me be a lot more proactive in shutting it down.
Lee: When we come back, how Daryle uses the internet to fight hate.
Lee: In the year 2000, Daryle Lamont Jenkins launched One People's Project, a website dedicated to exposing people involved in white supremacist and far-right groups. Daryle says it's meant to be a resource for employers, law enforcement, and local communities.
Jenkins: You put out any and all information about whatever's goin' on, and whomever is going on. So that means you're puttin' their names and addresses out there. You're puttin' their work information, their blood types even if you have it. The reason why I did it was because I noticed that anti-abortion activists were doin' to to abortion providers.
And the courts at the time said that it was within their rights. And I'm sittin' there listenin' to Sean Hannity actually defend the guy that did it, Neal Horsley. And I said, "Okay, I'm not gonna get mad. I'm not gonna be outraged. I'm just gonna do it too." But I'll do it responsibly because that's exactly how it should be done.
Lee: What does responsibly mean? What did that mean, responsibly?
Jenkins: That means I'm not using it as a weapon. I'm using it because I want people to know who the heck it is we're dealin' with.
Lee: But to say that it's, you know, not a weapon. Maybe it's not a weapon used for bad. Maybe it's like, "Look, we only use these weapons for good." But it seems like this is a weapon. It's not like it's just benign or it's just passive. It's an aggressive tactic--
Jenkins: No, it's not passive. I mean, it's not passive, and I'm not the most objective person in the world. I mean, I did say I was lookin' for a stronger sword. So definitely that's there. But the truth of the matter is that was by default anyway. (LAUGH)
I think that my focus is to not use it as a threat, but to rather just use it as helping people out to get as much information that they can. That means I make sure that I get the information right before I put it out, you know? That also, by the way, does mean that when the information is too sensitive, weigh it.
At the very least, weigh it before you do put it out. Social Security numbers is illegal. Children, I really don't like putting stuff about them. I mean, you can say that such and such a person has children. But you don't have to put their names and addresses. No, they are kids.
Lee: Sometimes the people who Daryle exposed wore their doxxing like a badge of honor and got famous because of it.
Jenkins: One of the people that we exposed early on was Richard Spencer. When people were tryin' to find out who Richard Spencer was, we were the ones that were telling 'em.
Lee: Richard Spencer, he's a Neo-Nazi who was a prominent figure in the alt-right in 2017 and helped organize the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.
Jenkins: Richard Spencer definitely used our doxxing of him as time went along, of course. But ultimately it was his downfall. You see what happened to him over Charlottesville.
Lee: After Charlottesville, a jury found Spencer and other rally leaders liable for conspiracy to commit violence.
Jenkins: And he pretty much keeps to himself these days. That's why we do what we do.
Lee: Daryle doesn't just do his activism via the keyboard. He goes into the streets to meet these extremists where they actually are, at their rallies, their protests, brunch and lunch, engage with them to out them as dangerous and hateful.
Jenkins: You do not. (LAUGH) You don't go with any misconceptions that you are going to change them and convince them that there's a better way. You go in there realizing that your obligation is to the people that they try to hurt and the damage that they can try to do to our society overall.
So you go into it with that and realize that, number one, you're gonna have to fight. How is that fight gonna go depends on them. If they want to talk, talk. If they want to insult, you insult. They want to yell back and forth and act like idiots, so be it.
If they want to swing, so be it. But the one thing that you least want to try to do on your part is make sure things are de-escalating. There are times when you can recognize immediately that this is not the place that you want to have a conversation or anything like that.
Like, I was at a white supremacist conference in Nashville a couple of months ago. Patriot Front is a white supremacist group that just recently marched on Washington D.C. Patriot Front's documentary crew wanted to interview the few activists out there of us that were out there. And I said, "No. This is not the place for that."
Lee: (LAUGH) Let me jump in there, you know, as a Black man, you casually mention like, "Yeah, I'm at this white supremacist conference." And, like, hold it. First of all, (LAUGHTER) bein' a Black man, you've been doin' like it's nothin'. You just have, you know, at the Klan rally the other night, they were barbecuin'. (LAUGH)
Jenkins: I have to apologize (LAUGH) because I forgot. I always do that. I always forget (LAUGH) how weird that would sound to everybody but me. (LAUGHTER) I've been doin' this for so long that it doesn't mean anything to me. It's like water off a duck. I tell you I went to this Klan rally. And everybody wonders, "Did they try to do anything to you?" I said, "No, right? We just talked." There are pictures of me at white supremacist conferences where I'm the only brother there. (LAUGH)
Lee: Right. I'd assume so. (LAUGH) But knowin' that so many of these organizations are, like, white supremacist, white nationalist organizations, some are kind of influencing over white supremacists adjacent. Like, what role does your race play in engaging with this element? Because I'd have to imagine that you would have a target on your back for some of them, because they hate Black people and others. How did that factor in?
Jenkins: Well, also bear in mind that I have this particular target on my back because they hate me in particular. Because they are trying to maintain themselves politically. I mean, remember not just since Trump got in office, since really 2005 when the Minuteman Project and the anti-immigration campaigns were gettin' hot, and they got a taste of the good life, (LAUGH) they really wanted to maintain themselves on a more political level.
That means that they had to tone down some of their own rhetoric and make some alliances that they otherwise would not make. So they do try to reach out, so to speak, with persons of color. And I had to say persons of color 'cause when you go to some of these white supremacist conferences, you do see Black, brown, yellow people participating with them.
The Proud Boys are multiracial. You see a lot of white people in the Proud Boys. But the Proud Boys are multiracial. This white supremacist conference that I was at in Tennessee, the American Renaissance Conference, for the first time they had a person of color speak.
More often than not, they would try to reach out and try to talk to you. And you gotta recognize that it's all a game for them. In my case, they know I'm not buyin' it. But they still think they can talk. They still think they can have a conversation. And I definitely entertain it because it keeps people from gettin' hurt.
Lee: When you're in those spaces, you're at some sort of wild white supremacist fest and you see a brother in there or a sister in there, what are your thoughts? And when you engage with them, I can't help but think about the Dave Chappelle skit with the Black blind racist.
Archival Recording: (LAUGHTER) But they argued.
Archival Recording: But don't you realize you're Black?
Jenkins: There's a lotta that now.
Lee: Daryle, so how much of them are actually like they've drank the Kool-Aid of white supremacy, self-hate, all those things. Are they more politically aligned sayin', "I'm not with the racists. But they have some good things to say about some policy or immigration or something"? Like, what are you finding when you're engaging with Black people out there especially?
Jenkins: Well, this is one of the things that I think as we progress as Black people, we have to recognize that we are raising a generation that does not know the pain that our people have suffered over 400 years, because they grew up in the suburbs. We have a lot of that.
They grew up not having to fight for a lot of the things that we had to fight for back in the day. They grew up knowin' that a Black man could be president. So when you have us becoming more a part of the mainstream, you think that you could also become a part of the more conservative side. And some of us sadly just take that to another level, (LAUGH) you know? And so that's happening more and more and more and more. (LAUGH)
Lee: So I know you were not at the Capitol on January 6th. But you were in Charlottesville. Walk us through what that experience was like, another, again, stain on American history that turned deadly. A lot of bad characters from all across the country. Talk to us about your experience in Charlottesville.
Jenkins: Well, by that point me and my crew were sayin' that the so-called alt-right was really enjoying life up until that pretty. And we said, "You know, this is gonna be their ultimate. This is gonna be the one thing that because they were really ginning it up, tryin' to fight everybody. This is gonna be where all of the stuff that we've seen is gonna crest and it's just gonna end up causin' grief from here on in.
And we were right about that. When everything just started poppin' off, I was a part of it. I got pepper sprayed really for the first time in life at one of these things. I got hit twice (LAUGH) with pepper spray. And then when everything was calmed down, that's when we found out that Heather Heyer was killed. There has never been, in my time, anybody killed at one of these things.
Jenkins: So that changed the game immensely.
Lee: By the nature of the work that you do and who you target and who you expose, there are a lot of people on that side who hate you. And then you are a Black man doin' this in America, engaging with fascists and Nazis and white supremacists and white nationalists. Did you ever seriously, seriously fear for your life? Is there a concern that you might, you know, get hurt doin' this work?
Jenkins: You have to be. You always are concerned. I mean, they once tried to bomb my parents' house. They have attacked me in the streets. I come from that era, however, that, "Well, come get them." You know, but we do fight back. If you're doing this, you have to be prepared for that.
Because they tell you that they're tryin' to kill you. They tell you that they want to hurt you. So I said, "Okay. But I'm still doin' the work. I'll just be prepared for when you come." (LAUGH) This office that I'm in, I have interviews here all the time. I never let anybody see the exterior for that reason.
I've kept my family out of it for security reasons. Now that they know who I am and what it is I do, they're comin' in more and more. But I have to protect them. And that's just the things you have to deal with. If you're going to be involved, be prepared.
Lee: One year out from January 6th, and four and a half years out from Charlottesville, this country has been through a lot.
Jenkins: We crossed a threshold with Charlottesville. We crossed a threshold with January 6th. I'm really not looking forward to another threshold being crossed, really. 'Cause can we survive it? Can we survive it? Who will win?
Lee: But Daryle, he still has a lot of hope.
Jenkins: Now I'm confident enough to say that we are strong enough a people to say, "We will." And I always warn the other side that, "You don't normally get any wins when you play that way." That's how come they haven't had that civil war that they want to have yet. Because they know that we will fight. But what we will lose if anything were to pop off is what my concern is. And I try to do everything I can to make sure that we don't get to that point.
Lee: There's something that Daryle and I talked about that I wanted to get into a little more: Why a few Black people and some people of color in general find themselves drawn to right-wing movements rooted in white supremacy? (CROWD NOISE) I remember last year as I watched the overwhelmingly white crowd attack the Capitol, I was actually surprised to see some Black and other non-white faces. But it turns out that this is part of a very small but growing trend.
Joe Lowndes: The Republican Party itself and then organizations further right have a lot of investment in trying to present themselves as anti-racist or multicultural, and also to make themselves more palatable for, you know, a broad American public, but also to recruit people of color into these movements and organizations.
Lee: As a short bonus this week, I am bringing you my conversation with researcher Joe Lowndes who helped break down why some people of color are drawn to far-right extremist movements and how groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are actually trying to recruit more racially diverse members.
You can find that conversation in your feeds starting Friday morning. As always, please keep in touch. And FYI, it's just gotten a little easier to do so. You can now follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using the handle @intoamericapod. That's "intoamericapod." Find a link in the show notes.
You can check there to see what's comin' up and what's goin' on behind the scenes. And of course, you can still tweet me @trymainelee. That's @trymainelee, my full name. Or email us at email@example.com. Into America is produced by Isabel Angell, Allison Bailey, Aaron Dalton, Max Jacobs, and Joshua Sirotiak. Original music by Hannis Brown. Our executive producer is Aisha Turner. I'm Trymaine Lee. Take care and Happy New Year.