Infowars and Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, with Gibson once calling the creator of the show, Alex Jones, “crazy.”
But politics — and conspiracy theories — make strange bedfellows. Gibson, who garnered 2.3 percent of the vote in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Washington, and Jones, an online and radio conspiracy junkie, appear to be forming a new alliance.
Gibson’s far-right Patriot Prayer group has hosted more than a dozen “freedom” rallies —mostly on the West Coast, and often marked by violence — since early last year. Their next event is a “Free Alex Jones” rally in Austin, Texas, on September 22, to protest Jones being booted from Twitter and YouTube. The rally will also feature far-right internet personality Laura Loomer, who has spread a variety of conspiracy theories, many of which are anti-Muslim.
The rally comes as Gibson has started to make more appearances on Infowars, including as a repeat guest on the “War Room” show on the online channel, since fizzling out in the Senate campaign.
Gibson and Jones have found common ground on the issue of free speech, with both seeing themselves as embattled warriors fighting against a perceived threat of rampant leftist violence that aims to silence conservative voices. Jones has even said that the left intends to start a civil war. Though Gibson usually prefers to spread his message in the streets and Jones in the studio, it seems that their theaters are beginning to overlap.
On Monday, “War Room” host Owen Shroyer announced the start of an Infowars “street army” — fans and listeners wearing pro-Trump garb to non-political and non-Trump events and behaving provocatively on camera when possible, then photographing or video recording the reactions, whether they turn violent or not.
In exchange for the videos and pictures, Shroyer is promising to promote people through the “ranks” in his “street army” ranging from private on up. While the group will initially depend on the creativity of individuals, Shroyer says they will eventually carry out coordinated actions.
“We go out in the real 3D realm to show how popular Trump really is,” Shroyer said.
Shroyer also pitched an idea he calls “university wars,” encouraging college students to wear “Make America Great Again” hats and T-shirts to classes as schools return to session in the coming weeks.
Shroyer also pushed students to film their professors being “anti-American, racist, communist, anti-Trump, whatever it is.” The idea is similar to the “professor watch list” crowdsourced by conservative student group Turning Point USA.
Along with recording professors, Shroyer encouraged followers to drop large banners bearing the Infowars name at college football games, particularly at some of the largest stadiums in the country and schools that have been targets for racist “alt-right” front man Richard Spencer and other activists — the University of Michigan, Penn State and the University of Tennessee.
“It’s time to get active,” Shroyer said in a recently broadcast show. “It’s time to push the pedal to the metal.”
Patriot Prayer rallies have turned violent in recent months, with police in Portland, Oregon, firing off flash-bangs at an August 4 gathering that included the Proud Boys and a rally two months earlier that devolved into a series of fights and people throwing objects at one another.
Gibson, on an episode of Infowars, said Patriot Prayer rallies started because “we saw people beat up in the streets during the Trump election.” Neither Jones nor Gibson offered any evidence of such activity, but both harped on the idea that counter-protesters were responsible for any violence at Patriot Prayer rallies.
“It’s really important that we unite,” Gibson said. “We come together and have each other’s backs.”
Will Johnson, who created Unite America First, a group that considers the Democratic Party to be “domestic terrorists,” told Gibson and Jones that people shouldn’t be afraid to go out wearing Trump paraphernalia.
“We are in a civil war,” Johnson said. “It’s not a hot civil war, but we are in a war.”
Whether the Gibson-Infowars alliance is one of convenience or the making of a long-term partnership is unknown.
But for the moment, the strange bedfellows appear to be getting along.
Photo illustration by SPLC