A white nationalist streamer who attended the Jan. 6 pro-Trump march as a VIP, arguably encouraged threats on lawmakers’ lives in the run-up to the protest-turned-insurrection – and earned thousands of dollars in the process.
Nick Fuentes, a 22-year-old white nationalist who rose to prominence after attending the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, has been encouraging his followers to attend “Stop the Steal” events since the movement arose in November.
At events throughout the country, he has been joined by large crowds of supporters. But in the run-up to the Jan. 6 siege, Fuentes took his rhetoric a step further on a Jan. 4 stream of his show, “America First,” where he raised the specter of killing state lawmakers.
“Republicans just screwed us every day for two months straight, and we have no recourse. Why? Because we have no leverage. What are we going to do to them? What can you and I do to a state legislator besides kill them?” Fuentes said during a live-stream aired on the youth-targeted site, DLive, a few days prior to the insurrection on the Capitol.
“We should not do that. I’m not advising that, but I mean what else can you do, right? Nothing,” he continued.
After Hatewatch reached out to Fuentes over email, he tweeted an emoji displaying an obscene gesture, naming several journalists, including this one. Fuentes’ attorney, Marc Randazza, subsequently responded with a letter and signed statement from his client asserting that Fuentes “made no threats” and “did not call for the death of any legislator.”
DLive did not respond to a request for comment. On Jan. 20, YouTube stated that they had terminated a handful of channels hosting Fuentes' content for embedding.
It was far from the first time that Fuentes, who has repeatedly bragged about being one of DLive’s top earners, has used his channel to seemingly encourage or condone violence. In the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Fuentes told the 26,000-plus viewers on his livestream that he “cannot say anything negative about the events yesterday.”
“I cannot condemn, I cannot disavow,” he said of the event, which resulted in five deaths and over 100 arrests to date.
Later in the same stream, however, he painted the movement as unprepared for a “revolution.”
“I’m not advocating violence, or, you know, people killing, or anything like that. I’m not advocating for a revolution or an insurrection because that would be illegal and also because we’re not there yet. You know, as evidenced by yesterday,” he said, referring to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
He also portrayed violence as a response to the alleged disenfranchisement of Trump voters.
“You disenfranchise 74 million people. You undermine legitimacy of the government, and you get violence. It is just what happens. That has consequences,” he said on the Jan. 7 stream.
“I’m not supporting violence. I’m saying, what do they expect people to do? They’ve denied everybody every possible legitimate recourse,” he continued.
However, in his statement accompanying Randazza’s letter, Fuentes states that he is “saddened by the loss of life resulting from the protests at the Capitol on January 6. I abhor political violence of all forms.”
Fuentes was banned from DLive on Jan. 9, with the platform citing his involvement in the Capitol riot. Source code from Fuentes’ personal website, as well as chatter on a forum popular with the far right, indicate that he has since turned to using a series of unlisted YouTube channels – despite having been banned from YouTube in early 2020.
While Fuentes’ other major sources of material support remain unclear, a report released on Jan. 14 by Chainalysis showed he received $250,000 in cryptocurrency in December 2020 from a foreign donor in France. He netted close to $6,000 in donations the week of the insurrection, according to Megan Squire, a professor of computer science at Elon University and a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Squire studies extremism on online platforms.
Fuentes cheered on the Jan. 6 insurrection
Fuentes has been a staple at pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rallies in Washington, D.C. But he has also been a central figure in the broader white power movement since 2017.
Fuentes arose on the national stage after “Unite the Right,” which he praised as a “tidal wave of white identity.” At the time, Fuentes had been the host of a pro-Trump YouTube show. Throughout the years, Fuentes has pushed racist and antisemitic rhetoric – including Holocaust denial – on his show, which moved to DLive from YouTube after his channel was banned by Google in February 2020. Among some of Fuentes’ more prominent defenders is former conservative-pundit-gone-white-nationalist-apologist Michelle Malkin, whose support has arguably helped propel him into the more mainstream pro-Trump movement.
When Biden’s electoral win was announced in November, Fuentes, according to the blog Angry White Men, called upon his supporters to “get out in the streets” and encouraged them to attend rallies challenging the vote in state capitals throughout the country.
Fuentes was one of a number of white nationalists or white nationalist groups promoted as “patriots” on TrumpMarch.com – a site sponsored by the 501(c)(4) organization Women for America First, which has advertised a number of “Stop the Steal” events. In a version of the site archived in Nov. 2020 around the time of the first “March for Trump,” Fuentes was one of over a dozen listings associated with the white nationalist movement. Others included the white nationalist publications American Renaissance, The Unz Review and VDARE; British neo-Nazi Mark Collett; and white nationalist YouTuber Colin Robertson, who goes by the name “Millennial Woes” online. Robertson has spoken at white nationalist events in the past, including the 2016 National Policy Institute conference in D.C., where attendees were caught on camera giving Nazi salutes.
His rhetoric at these events has often targeted Republicans, including lawmakers who have remained supportive of Trump even after the Jan. 6 siege. At a “Stop the Steal” event in Georgia, Fuentes accused Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., of being able to “take a stand” for Israel, but not Trump. (Cawthorn has been in a wheelchair since an accident left him paralyzed from the waist down in 2014.) Then, in mid-December of 2020, Fuentes vowed to “destroy the GOP” for its failure to keep Trump in power.
On Jan. 6, Fuentes was visible in both livestreams and images amidst a mob of pro-Trump insurrectionists outside of the Capitol. In one photo, posted to Telegram by Vincent James Foxx, head of the far-right media outlet Red Elephants, Fuentes can be seen at the event wearing what appears to be a VIP badge. Though his badge is not visible, Fuentes’ associate, Jaden McNeil, can be seen standing alongside him wearing what looks like an identical lanyard.
Fuentes has denied involvement in the storming of the Capitol itself, including in his statement provided to SPLC in which he states that he did not enter the Capitol and “never participated in any insurrection against the United States of America nor have I taken up arms against it.” However, in a speech he gave near the Capitol building on Jan. 6, Fuentes appears at one point to encourage the insurrectionists.
“Keep moving towards the Capitol – it appears we are taking the Capitol back!” he told a crowd of cheering supporters.
“Break down the barriers and disregard the police. The Capitol belongs to us,” he said shortly thereafter.
In a stream aired on DLive two nights before he was booted off the platform, Fuentes refused to disavow the attack and said it ought to make Trump supporters feel “inspired.” He also acknowledged he and others had been “joking about storming the Capitol” prior to the event.
“What do you get when people are denied a legitimate means through the system by which to change the course of the country and change outcomes in the country?” Fuentes asked earlier in the stream.
“You get violence, and you get violence because then people challenge – the only way the know how – an illegitimate authority,” he continued.
Fuentes has monetized hate
As Hatewatch reported in November 2020, Fuentes is one of dozens of far-right extremists who have raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars on DLive, a youth-targeted streaming service. Fuentes has been earning money at a rate through DLive that matches a six-figure salary.
However, Squire’s research reveals that Fuentes has continued to not only make money on the platform after his ban, but also netted thousands of dollars in donations for his Jan. 4 stream arguably threatening lawmakers and another on Jan. 7 endorsing the insurrection.
DLive streamers earn money through subscriptions and donations from their viewers, which come in the form of “lemons.” Each lemon is valued at $0.012 and are sold to potential donors in bundles. Donors who purchase lemons can opt to gift lemons to their favorite streamers in groups of one, 10, 100, 1,000, or 10,000 lemons.
On Jan. 4, the day of Fuentes' stream referencing Republican lawmakers, Squire found that he garnered $2,323.23 in donations through a total of 775 transactions. He raked in another $2,831.64, through a total of 2,966 transactions, on Jan. 7.
Squire’s research also showed that Fuentes continued to receive donations on Jan. 10 and 11, after DLive claimed his lemon balance was frozen.
After being booted from DLive, Fuentes has begun streaming his show on his own site. Despite being banned from YouTube in early 2020, Hatewatch was able to identify both through a livestream and the source code that Fuentes’ site relied on embedded YouTube videos. One stream viewed by Hatewatch claimed that it had originated from the site Restream.io – a site that purports to allow users to populate livestreams on multiple platforms.
According to YouTube, channels identified as hosting Fuentes' livestreams for his personal website – including two identified by Hatewatch – were terminated for attempting to evade his prior ban from the platform.