The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Tally Grows of Viewers Moved to Violence by Beck’s Rants

By Leah Nelson on December 1, 2010 - 4:22 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime, Media Extremism

Through countless diagrams and diatribes, chalk-wielding Fox News commentator Glenn Beck has made it his mission to inform his audience that left-wing progressives are purportedly on the brink of revolution. Many of Beck’s fans take him seriously. In the past two years, at least three have decided the best response to his warnings is violence.

Kenneth B. Kimbley Jr. of Spirit Lake, Idaho, is the latest to face prison time for interpreting Beck’s rants as a call to action.

Kimbley claims to be the leader of the Brotherhood of America Patriots, an extreme-right militia whose mission, he says, is to “resist in the event the government started rounding up the patriots” and to stand up in the face of foreign invasions or societal breakdowns. (Authorities believe Kimbley’s group was tiny.) At the time of his arrest in July, Kimbley had 20,000 rounds of ammunition, a stock of firearms, and materials he planned to use to construct grenades, according to court documents.

According to the Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash., Kimbley’s lawyer described her client as a man with strong political views who posed no real danger to society. “In fact, everything said by Mr. Kimbley is no different than what his idol, TV commentator Glenn Beck, typically states on the air,” public defender Kim Deater wrote in court papers.

Byron Williams and Richard Poplawski, also Beck fans, got a lot farther in their alleged antigovernment actions before being caught.

Williams, who likened Beck to a “schoolteacher,” is charged with shooting and wounding two members of the California Highway Patrol during a July confrontation that occurred on his way to San Francisco, where he allegedly planned to start a revolution by assassinating leaders at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation, both regular targets of Beck’s furious rants. (The Tides Foundation, in fact, would be barely known if not for at least 29 mentions made by Beck, including two in the week before the shootout, according to Media Matters.)

Poplawski, for his part, allegedly shot three police officers to death in April 2009 after his mother called them to the Pittsburgh home they shared.

“Rich, like myself, loved Glenn Beck,” Eddie Perkovic, Poplawski’s best friend told reporter Will Bunch of Media Matters, among others. Prior to the shooting, Poplawski reportedly was “obsessed” with two of Beck’s pet theories: that there is an imminent food crisis and that paper money will soon be worthless. Like Kimbley and Williams, Poplawski worried that the government planned to intern dissidents in concentration camps.

Although Beck in the past has denied responsibility for the extreme actions of his viewers, it isn’t surprising his inflammatory expositions about what the government and its “progressive” allies are doing could push certain people over the edge and into violence.

Dubbing himself a “progressive hunter,” Beck proclaimed in January that like the “Israeli Nazi hunters … I’m going to expose what [progressives] have done and make sure that people understand.” In June, he said “anarchists, Marxists, communists, revolutionaries, Maoists” would need to “eliminate 10% of the population” to “gain control.” In July, he said that “[t]he army… of the extreme left is gathering” and that it believes that “cops are bad, kill the cops, they’re the oppressors.” In September, he warned, “Violence will come. And violence will come from the left. Violence is part of the plan.”

The connection between Kimbley’s beliefs and Beck’s provocative on-air statements seems clear, especially his fear that the government plans to round up and intern liberty-loving Americans, a fear that was also expressed by Poplawski and Byron.

One of Beck’s earliest public flirtations with the idea that government concentration camps might be real came in March 2009, exactly a month to the day before Poplawski allegedly opened fire on officers responding to a domestic dispute at his home. (Alex Jones, a far-right antigovernment conspiracy theorist and repeat FOX guest who Williams cited as an additional influence, also had trumpeted the theory for some time.) Beck has since claimed to debunk the idea of government camps, but the rest of his rhetoric is hardly even-handed. And though he tempers his endless alarms with reminders that “it is not time to pick up guns” or “blow anything up,” his most volatile fans apparently take these admonitions with a grain of salt.

“Beck is gonna deny everything about a violent approach and deny everything about conspiracies,” Williams told John Hamilton of Media Matters. “But he’ll give you every reason to believe it.”

  • Slim Jim

    After carefully looking into who does what violence, it’s hands down the left is winning the battle of being the most turbid. I find myself questioning everything and then doing in-depth research on the question at hand. At this point political sides are no longer an influence in my thinking. I find saving this great nation from the left and the right is paramount at this time. This vitriol on both sides has to stop dividing the true purpose of the founding fathers and their vision of a nation ruled by the people and not the elite overlords.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Jack, the right would like to think they are the badasses of the country, but for all the gun-waving and military worship they are in fact the biggest cowards. They push harder and harder the more America’s “phony leftists” whine and complain about the lack of “civil discourse”, the same way a bully is emboldened by submissiveness on the part of his victims. But if the workers push back, the right will whine and play the victim.

    Conservatives are generally fearful people, constantly afraid of anything they don’t understand, and too afraid to even attempt to understand those things.

  • Jack S.

    “From these posts you would think it must be because 30 million Americans are right wing robots ready to do violence on the command of the Anti-Christ.”

    The left is always inflating these things. If the right had an army of 30 million ready to do violence the left would not be in existence.
    Heck, if they had an army of one million ready the left would be toast.

    The left just sells fear to cover up those things that are truly frightening.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    The thing Steve, is that for all its problems, the US’ constitution’s protection of Free Speech is probably one of the nation’s best features. People of all political stripes, even hardcore leftists like myself, acknowledge this fact.

    Of course Free Speech is never absolute, including in the US. However, we must understand that if we permit additional restrictions, there is a possibility they may be abused. And if the Constitution is so amended, it would be really hard to reverse that process. Of course there are problems with the First Amendment, but the biggest problem is the concept of corporate(as opposed to individual free speech, the intention of the founders), free speech. Corporations possess more resources than individuals, and use public infrastructure as well as public airwaves. That is why there is some justification for limited their free speech(because they shouldn’t have it in the first place), but if this takes the form as a blanket limitation on the First Amendment, it may be abused as I suggested earlier.

    Already a bill is being discussed that will make it illegal to express public solidarity, or even approval, of groups deemed by the State Department as terrorist groups. Then the US State department can just label any group it wants as a terrorist group, and voila- they can shut your peaceful protest group down.

    This is similar to what happened recently to the Freedom Road Socialist Organization a few months back. They publicly expressed “solidarity”(which is like saying, we support you morally) for the PFLP and FARC-EP. As a result their offices were raided and computers were seized(by the government Beck claims is “socialist”).

  • Steven

    Free speech should not cover any type of incitement to violence towards any group or person. Currently, free speech laws only prohibit a threat of imminent violence. Whether the incitement to violence is imminent or distant shouldn’t make a difference because in the end, it begets violence and danger towards humans.

    Ethnic, religious and gender minorities are at risk because American freedom of speech laws are flawed.

  • Legalhound

    Ruslan,

    Part of Dickie’s problem is that right wing-nuts are also the sort who are actually proud of what they don’t know. My folks were actually Republicans, but the sort you hear from anymore. They taught me that ignorance was a condition that you should be eager to fix as it is the one 100% curable disease. Now with the addition of Christian Reconstruction ( No folks the US is NOT a Christian Nation – it was designed to be pluralistic from the beginning of our Independence-read ALL of Jefferson’s writings or Madison post Presidency) the nut-jobs are proud of being ignorant. It’s a freaky combination of stupidity and laziness created by the race to mediocrity. Yet, Palin and Beck will tell you these folks are exceptional-they’re exceptional alright – exceptionally gullible!

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Brilliant John, by finding a domestic terrorist that wasn’t inspired by Beck, it TOTALLY discredits the idea that Beck might be inspiring people to violence. Brilliant.

    And Tango, how is Media Matters not credible? They provide clear video and transcripts of what these people say.

  • Tango4

    Hate watch or Right Watch….or maybe Fox Watch? Your article could be viewed with more credibility had you not cited Media Matters as a source. What’s MoveOn.org have to say on the matter? SPLC has an excellent record on tracking hate groups, and it’s unfortunate that it has become politicized. Be careful of the “racetrack syndrome”….left turn, left turn, left….

    Tango4

  • John Stasnek

    I guess Mohamed Osman Mohamud listens to Glenn Beck on the affiliate radio station in Portland, Oregon?

  • jerilyn kay miller

    I boyvott all Fox news anywhere. j

  • gharlane

    “Why not also include the fact that all of these violent, delusional loons are Christians? That’s the core of their mental problems: Christianity.”

    I’m going to assume this is snark. If so, I take the snark to underline how we treat Islam and Muslims — “Why, all of the 9/11 hijackers were Muslims! That’s the core of their mental problems: Islam.”

    The (I hope) snarky comment is no more true of Christianity than it is of Islam. Martin Luther King, Jr., after all, was a Christian minister — to name but one. On the other hand, it’s no **less** true of Christianity than it is of Islam. Or Judaism (my own tradition), for that matter.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    You know Dick, the left doesn’t really worry too much about you. Anyone gullible enough to believe Beck is gullible enough to believe some con-man selling potentially dangerous cures and medicines, with predictable results. All they would have to say is, “Liberals and the government don’t want you to be able to use my miracle viagra substitute, because the environmental wackos say that arsenic is dangerous!”

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Ah Dick, we missed you:

    “Beck is a nobody who has the eyes and ears of 30 million Americans. He is tied with Sarah Palin as the most hated personalities by the left (the display of hatred here for Beck is ironic coming from a publication called Hate Watch). How did he do that? From these posts you would think it must be because 30 million Americans are right wing robots ready to do violence on the command of the Anti-Christ. But in fact, we’re just truth starved.”

    Right wing folks like you aren’t exactly skilled in using logic. This is called an argument to popularity- that is, “Beck is popular, so he must be right/telling the truth.” No, Beck is popular because he peddles conspiracy theories to perpetually angry people who want simple explanations,

    “If there is one thing that will bring out the pathology of the left, it is someone exposing their well-crafted lies.”

    And if someone just makes up those “lies”, as Beck does?

    ” If it is Beck who is lying about the Tides Foundation why isn’t anyone willing to tell us what its true mission is? Because the true mission is exactly what Beck says it is. ”

    Wow that is stunning logic there. Hey did you know that the secret mission of Fox News is to enslave America under the fascistic dictatorship of Rupert Murdoch and his Kangaroo SS? Nobody’s challenged that assertion thus far so…..IT MUST BE TRUE!!!

    BTW: http://www.tides.org/about-us/index.html

    Apparently the super-secret Tides Foundation puts their info on the net.

    @The guy who wrote that Beck is a “Marxist Libertarian”: LOL WUT

  • http://trackerinblue@yahoo.com Marty

    To Mr.Fredric L. Rice: I agree that Mr. Beck is a total loon, however, his cult, Mormonism, is not a Christian sect; it is a pagan belief system concocted by Joseph Smith and has very little in common with Christianity. Please, Christianity already has a bad enough rap without lumping the freeking Mormons in.

  • Herbert E. Larson

    I find that defenders of the right are sadly unaware of the distortions of history and out and out lies the likes of pasty face and flush tell. If you point out the truth and use logic to under mine their ignorance they get into snit and claim your slinging mud and insults. I understand they don’t need facts or the truth they know what they know and they know they are right. What it really boils down to at this time in America is racism, the kind that speaks nicely and when out of hearing use every filthy word you can think of, but their not racists. In their hearts they are just good loyal American patriots only delusional and deluded.

  • okami

    to Elizabeth Levy:

    there is a way to share this and other pages.

    http://ping.fm

    first, i don’t like making plugs on a site as serious as this, but it’s one of the best ways to get info around.

    it’s a free service, which lets you instantly post to a variety of pages: social networks, messengers, blogs, and microblogs.

    i use it to post to about 40-50 places with one button.

    merely cut & paste the title and the link in the address bar & do it.

    on the other hand, if you want to post just to Facebook alone, go to your profile page. at the top, where it says “what’s on your mind?”, there’s a link button. copy the link in the address bar of the story (like here) and insert it into the link and hit ‘Attach”.

    the story will be added to your page and newsfeed for all your connections to see.

  • pug338

    Actually, Pickwick, the word is intern, as in “internment camp.” If someone were “interred,” they would be buried.

  • ruben

    all three of these psychos should be given drug tests for meth use.

  • Elizabeth Levy

    I’d love to be able to share this article on my Facebook page, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to do so.
    What am I missing on this page?

    • Chris

      @ Elizabeth Levy,

      Thanks for reading and sharing. We do not have a widget for social media sharing on the blog at this time. We might look into adding one in the future, but for now, you can copy the address for this blog post and paste it in the “What’s on your mind?” box on your Facebook page. This will share the link with all of your friends.

      Chris
      SPLC New Media Content Manager

  • James Peter

    What’ever is happening to this country, it aint good. The two sides play by different rules. One side says anything, lies , exaggerates and makes things up out of thin air. The other plays a little politics and tries to be reasonable ,because that used to be the way you advanced your agenda. No more. The media has been cowed or usurped and the right wing accepts anything and forgives everything except moderation. Eric Cantor soon to be second man in the house wanting to eviscerate the 16th and 17th amendments. Real people in power talking about amending or doing away with the 14th amendment. Is there any doubt that if there was a right wing foreign power who would challenge a Democratic President is there any doubt that Beck, and Limbaugh would be cheering it on, ala the German Bund in the USA in the thirties or the British Fascist Party before the War. Would you doubt that the tea party would be there also. Didn’t Cantor tell the right wing Israeli government that the Republicans would work for them against the Obama administration. as if Obama wasn’t President.`

  • Dick Lancaster

    Beck is a nobody who has the eyes and ears of 30 million Americans. He is tied with Sarah Palin as the most hated personalities by the left (the display of hatred here for Beck is ironic coming from a publication called Hate Watch). How did he do that? From these posts you would think it must be because 30 million Americans are right wing robots ready to do violence on the command of the Anti-Christ. But in fact, we’re just truth starved.

    If there is one thing that will bring out the pathology of the left, it is someone exposing their well-crafted lies. If it is Beck who is lying about the Tides Foundation why isn’t anyone willing to tell us what its true mission is? Because the true mission is exactly what Beck says it is. Don’t bother attacking Beck, expose his lies.

    The few kooks who credit Beck for their odd and criminal behavior (wasn’t there 3 of them?) are inevidible. So glad Hate Watch found them. Now let’s look at the behavior of the other 29,999,997 Beck fans and see what they’re up to.

  • Robin White

    What I find freaky is that this is a culture in which displays of anger about anything, real or percieved, are considered acts of virtuosity regardless of opinion.

    We have before us a someone whose craft it is to cultivate fear within a vulnerable audience. This is easy pickings for Glen, since he only needs to get a small number of his listeners to act violently, out of perhaps a couple of million who watch his show.

    So, I see Mr. Kimbley, as a naive victim of Glen Beck’s pitch. He has moral indignation and a willingness to act–but apparently is dumb enough to believe what Glen says.

    Mr. Beck is clearly playing on the gullibilities of a pititful audience. Lacking any sense of ethics, he doesn’t seem to care that out of millions, some are dumb enough to believe, and act on, his story. My question is, who is Beck working for? He is obviously making stuff up and doesn’t seem to care.

  • Armageddon T Thunderbird

    People need to wake up the fact that Glenn Beck is simply another opinion pushing charlatan who is a product of mormon cult theology that he mixes with parts of Catholicism and his personal core as a dry alcoholic. And for the record, he is a Mormon and not a Christian. The two are not the same as one is a cult and the other is a religion. This makes Glenn Beck one very twisted screwed up moron who sold his soul to the lowest common denominator of personal stupidity. And for the record…the religion of Islam has far more in common with Christianity than the mormon cult.

    The truth about Beck is that he a dry mormon alcoholic who never got the counseling required for alcoholics. Because he does not possess a single ounce of journalistic integrity, this makes him the perfect abortion poster child for Fox Network. Considering the fact that Beck’s personal views are extreme Marxist Libertarian, his form of patriotism is false and he is a person who has no real substance or depth.

    Glenn Beck consistently demonstrates all the unstable behaviors of a dry alcoholic which include grandiosity, judgmentalism, intolerance, impulsivity, ADD, indecisiveness and blindness to truth. In short, Beck, Limbaugh, O Reilly, Hannity, Palin, O Donnell, Coulter and others like them frequently pervert truth, history, facts, religion and the US Constitution when they open their big mouths. Beck is simply part of a national league of pseudo-conservative idiots who make big money by selling lies and half truths to impressionable fools that occupy the lowest levels of society. Basically…tea baggers and registered republicans who are condemned to repeat the mistakes of history.

  • Pickwick

    Agree with everything, but have to post this. The word you were looking for is “inter”, not “intern” — put them away, not give them an unpaid learning experience. Sorry, that kept grating on my nerves; had to say it.

  • Roger

    It’s the Tower of Babel! The European Parliament Building looks just like that painting of the Tower of Babel.

    I’m just saying, this is deliberate!

    Wake up!

    It looks like prophecy! I don’t know. I’m just saying. It’s got the same openings and windows and spiral shape. I don’t know, I’m just saying.

    Wake up people! And please, (sigh), pray for America.

    I’m just saying.

  • S. Jinn

    True Harmil2. A quick look at many left wing websites yields not just political articles but articles on health, meditation, personal responsibility, self knowledge, etc. Not the same fare you’ll find on right wing sites, with the incendiary rhetoric of Beck and Co featured, along with a focus on fear, hatred,guns and violence.
    I’ve observed republican members of my own family becoming more and more agitated fearful and hateful due to FOX “news” and especially due to Beck over the past few years, and I know some of them have begun collecting weapons and ammunition. Their cult-like gullibility to believe anything he spouts is truly frightening.

  • Kate De Braose

    I believe that Beck and other haters of liberals on Fox are actually trying to incite rioting by so-called “Patriot” groups in order that Republicans can gradually begin to steer politicians toward a more repressive approach to government. They are angry that we the people still have freedom of speech and the press, association and assembly.

    Perhaps the neo-fascist ideas expressed on Fox are pleasing to many because they dream of having power over their fellow Americans. What these agitators lack now is the power to arrest people for what they believe are thought crimes.

  • Fredric L. Rice

    Why not also include the fact that all ofthese violent, delusional loons are Christians? That’s the core of their mental problems: Christianity.

    Beck is a frothing insane Mormon hate cultist, and he gets his delusional hatred of America from his Mormon cult leaders which harbor the ideologies which Beck proclaims — mass starvation, mass violence, end-of-the-world lunacy, all of which culminates in the Mormon hate cult “being called upon,” in the terminology of the hate cult, “to lead America.”

    All of these right wing domestic terrorist loons are Christians. That fact should be repeatedly underscored every time one of these people are caught, tried, and inprisoned. It’s the core pathology which drives these people to hate our country, hate its people, and fight for theocracy, fascism, and genocide against non-whites et al.

    Religion is the core problem that the whole world faces. It’s time to accept the fact.

  • IludiumPhosdex

    Suggestion of Ruslan Amirakhanov:


    Fox could easily solve this problem by adding a disclaimer to the beginning of Beck’s show:

    WARNING: The following program is for entertainment purposes ONLY. The host has absolutely no idea what he is talking about.

    Better yet, I think the advisory should be presented in such a way as would encourage his legions of easily-influenced viewers to change channels; i.e., presented in the likes of some obscure foreign language not likely to be thus understood, the better to “get the message across,” as it were:

    *Afrikaans
    *Irish
    *Welsh
    *Manx
    *Breton
    *Catalan
    *Romansch
    *Yiddish
    *Ladino
    *Basque
    *Vlaams
    *Hindi
    *Farsi
    *Thai
    *California surfah argot

  • http://harmil22@embarqmail.com Harmil2

    Regarding my friends, relatives, and neighbors, I have noticed folks on the right tend to regularly watch Fox News, Glenn Beck and listen to Rush Limbaugh while most lefties tend to regularly watch Olberman, Maddow, The Daily Show and/or the Colbert Report. I see the righties stocking up on amunition while demanding open carry laws and even sidearms at political rallies, while I haven’t heard anyone on the left wanting to pack heat since the early 70s. I feel the American left did a much better job of marginalizing their crazies than the American right.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    That’s true Izzy, Ann Coulter uses this trick too- when they cross the line they say “It was just a joke! I’m an entertainer.”

  • JNagarya

    I’ve never watched Beck — if I had the opportunity to do so, it would not be an opportunity; it would be self-flaggelation and hatred. But it is clear he is yet another right-wing nutball who obsessively harangues everyone else about how to be responsible, while simultaneously being wholly irresponsible in his exercise of his “right” of freedom of speech. (Unlike his True Believing dupes, many of the rest of us known that the Constitution’s protections don’t apply to private entities such as FOX.)

    But the moment one notes that every right is inextricably entwined with responsibility, the illiterates jump to the extreme of opposing any such LAW enforcing responsibility. By contrast, one CAN CHOOSE to be responsible.

    In addition, it is illegal — for obvious good reason — to prohibit yelling “THEATER!” in a crowded fire. Beck is yelling “THEATER!” (appropriate for an ENTERTAINER) in a crowded fire hoping to stir up exactly that he LIES is already happening. That’s “Libertarianism” for ya: If your wallet is stolen, it’s your own damned fault for having had a wallet.

  • Frizzy Izzy

    Ruslan: Every time the Beckerhead says something dumb and gets called on it, he calls himself “entertainment”, like every other hate-talker. The rest of the time, he’s The Real News They Don’t Want You To Hear.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Yeah we all know how those anarchists love taking control of things, with their Maoist buddies.

    Fox could easily solve this problem by adding a disclaimer to the beginning of Beck’s show:

    WARNING: The following program is for entertainment purposes ONLY. The host has absolutely no idea what he is talking about.

  • NUTS1944

    http://newhaven.fbi.gov/dojpre.....20110a.htm

    Jury Finds Connecticut Man Guilty of Making Grenades, Selling Guns Intended for White Supremacist Group

  • Frank

    “In June, he said “anarchists, Marxists, communists, revolutionaries, Maoists” would need to “eliminate 10% of the population” to “gain control.” In July, he said that “[t]he army… of the extreme left is gathering” and that it believes that “cops are bad, kill the cops, they’re the oppressors.” In September, he warned, “Violence will come. And violence will come from the left. Violence is part of the plan.””

    Anarchists want to kill off 10% of the population? Okay, I can’t even take him seriously at all anymore.

    This isn’t about ‘right’ or ‘left’. That’s just a distraction. Beck is a buffoon.