Montgomery, Ala. — A Southern Poverty Law Center Hatewatch investigation found that Ryan Balch, a 31-year-old Wisconsin man who says he “inserted “ himself with an alleged gunman and a contingent of militia conducting armed patrols in Kenosha, used his social media accounts to link to a Nazi propaganda video, amplified white nationalist Richard Spencer, and uploaded symbols associated with the boogaloo movement. Balch originally drew attention to himself after posting about the interaction on Facebook the morning after the shooting.
Hatewatch tied Balch to a Twitter account that also indicates he was immersed in far-right rhetoric, followed conspiracy theorists and regularly posted extremist content, including a video, called “Truth Will Triumph: Adolf Hitler,” in which Hitler speeches are heavily used.
“What Balch’s social media history shows is that he was immersed in the kind of extreme far-right, white supremacist radicalization pathways we have seen causing havoc throughout the Trump era,” said SPLC investigative reporter Michael Edison Hayden, author of the report. “And he was into that dangerous, online propaganda before he decided to go to Kenosha with a gun and join Rittenhouse on the streets there.”
Following the shooting in Kenosha in Kenosha, Balch posted on Facebook that he blamed “the government” for what took place: “It is my belief that we only faced one monster out there that night. The Government. It sought to agitate and create a situation where this would happen. I’m seeing people refer to this as the start of some ‘civil war’ in certain communities. I don’t know about that but it’s even clearer to me after the fact that we need to unite under a common cause and stop letting them trick us into killing one another and destroying one another’s lives. Together we’re far stronger than we are divided.”
Balch has not been accused of a crime or been linked to the shooting by law enforcement.
Critics have slammed social media companies like Twitter and Facebook for the role their websites play in profiting off of the type of political street violence that has become more commonplace since Trump took office in 2017.