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Neo-Nazi 'Tyrone' exposed as US Marine

Neo-Nazi 'Tyrone' exposed as US Marine
From Al Jazeera - April 17, 2018

Washington, DC -Just weeks before a white supremacist rally turned deadly last August after a neo-Nazi allegedly drove his car into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia, several of the rally's organisers discussed ways to use cars as weapons in an online chatroom.

On July 17, one of those organisers, operating under the alias "Tyrone", posted a picture of a farm machine known as a combine harvester, writing it "sure would be nice". He then wrote: "Is it legal to run over protesters blocking roadways?"

Tyrone's statements garnered media attention last August, but it was not publicly known who was behind the alias. That changed recently, when an anti-racist activist exposed Tyrone's identity as Michael Joseph Chesny, a 36-year-old active duty Marine who was stationed at an airbase in Havelock, North Carolina with a speciality in explosives.

In more than 1,000 posts in an online chatroom called Discord, Tyrone gave detailed advice on how to fight in the streets of Charlottesville, and also posted a raft of racial slurs and statements pledging support for neo-Nazi causes and organisations.

Unicorn Riot, an activist-run media outlet, published an archive of the Discord messages used to organise the "Unite the Right"rally that brought white supremacists from across the country to Charlottesville to oppose the city's decision to remove a Confederate monument.

The violence in the small Virginia college town, which killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured many others, caused a slew of civil rights lawsuits - including one that alleges a conspiracy by the rally's organisers to carry out acts of violence in Charlottesville.

It also touched off efforts by a coalition of "Antifa" (anti-fascist) activists to use a tactic known as doxxing to verify and publicise the identities of "Unite the Right" activists, including Chesny.

'I am actually a US Marine who was born to kill'

On August 11, 2017, just hours before hundreds of white supremacists marched with torches through the University of Virginia campus, chanting racist slogans, Tyrone logged onto Discord, where he had been communicating with others for months.

"F*** islam," Tyrone wrote. "They are like mudsharks. Race traitors either convert or get the sword."

These types of slurs were rampant on Discord, but Tyrone stood out for his more specific advice. In one instance, he advised others on how to build and use a flagpole as a weapon.

"[Are] you trying to impale people?" he asked other members on July 24, 2017.

He advised to "Put a 6-8 inch double threaded screw into [two] 3 ft axe handles. If s*** gets real unscrew the bottom and go to town."

Weeks earlier, on July 2, he wrote: "An abundant variety of tactics are how we are going to achieve final victory."

On July 23, 2017, Tyrone posted an image of an armed man with the caption: "I am actually a US Marine who was born to kill ..."

Exposing Chesny

In the months leading up to the rally, Charlottesville-based activist Emily Gorcenski tried to convince the city council to revoke a permit granted to organisers of the Unite the Right rally, "not because we are anti-free speech," she said, "but because we knew they were coming to do violence to people and terrorise our local communities."

On August 12, Gorcenski was standing just a few feet away when 20-year-old James Alex Fields, Jr, allegedly rammed his Dodge Charger into a crowd of anti-racist activists.

Since the Discord chat logs went public last August, Gorcenski began searching its archive for details about the leaders of a nationwide network of white supremacists. There, she found threats against her own life.

Gorcenski doxxed several of those making threats, arguing that activists have to do some of the investigatory work that police are not doing.

"I think law enforcement does not do a good enough job of informing the public about white supremacists in people's neighbourhoods," she told Al Jazeera.

In the archive, she found a user chatting under the alias "WV1987," who threatened to run her over when he arrived in Charlottesville.

"I hope she stands in the street," he wrote, posting a photoof his truck bumper, and adding "My ARB bull bar is hungry."

With this photo and two other clues, Gorcenski said it took her 45 minutes to identify the 30-year-old man who had made the threat.

"I am sharing this so that people can make safe decisions to avoid him," she wrote on Twitter.

Soon after, Gorcenski also came across Tyrone. It took her 90 minutes to discover his true identity.

As Tyrone, Chesny made very specific posts about himself and his family.

Tyrone posted a photo of this banner that appeared at a May 2017 rally in support of a Confederate statue in Graham, North Carolina. On June 6, 2017, he told others on Discord that he'd been "caught" hanging it from the top of a building.

The banner featured a logo for Generation Identitaire, a far-right, nativist and anti-immigrant movement in Europe. The acronym alongside it, "YWNRL", stands for "You Will Not Replace Us", a popular chant used by Unite the Right marchers in Charlottesville to signal fears over so-called "white genocide".

Responding to another user who asked if he received "trespassing charges", Tyrone wrote on June 6, 2017: "I am going to court 9am eastern. We shall see."

I think law enforcement does not do a good enough job of informing the public about white supremacists in people's neighbourhoods.

Emily Gorcenski, Charlottesville-based activist

Gorcenski said she did a reverse image search of the picture of the banner and found that it was linked to a news story citing two US Marines who had been arrested for trespassing in connection with the banner drop.

The news story ran the mugshots of Michael J Chesny and Joseph W Manning.

Gorcenski said she continued scrolling through Tyrone's messages, and found another clue that narrowed her search. He had posted what appeared to be a birth announcement for his family, who were expecting twins - with their faces blocked out by white circles.

'Seig Heiling into the night'

Bad Apples?

DoD recognised that it was not a good thing to be training racists and extremists who fantasize about race war.

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