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Last week, avowed white supremacist James A. Fields Jr. was sentenced to more than four centuries in prison on hate crime charges for ramming his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters at the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one woman and injuring 19 others.
While digging through some of the evidence against him over this past weekend, data scientist and activist Emily Gorcenski unearthed Fields’ long-sought Twitter handle: @TheNewGiantDad. The account was deleted at some point after Fields’ arrest.
FUCK we FINALLY get Fields' Twitter account name! pic.twitter.com/5Vwy9uKrMI— Emily of the State (@EmilyGorcenski) July 21, 2019
Along with the evidence, archived records of Fields’ Twitter history provides a window into the interconnected web of far-right, white supremacy, and hate groups online, whose members and sympathizers have since been implicated in numerous acts of violence and terrorism. Gorcenski notes that one picture from Unite the Right shows Fields with neo-Nazis Mike Peinovich aka Mike Enoch and Taylor Wilson, a convicted terrorist.
Gorcenski, a Charlottesville, Virginia, native who was an anti-racism protester at Unite the Right, found that Fields, going by the screen name Volker Krieger, which appears to have no significance other than that it is German, had interacted with far-right personality Jack Posobeic on Twitter on at least one occasion a few months before the deadly rally.
(It is not clear what @TheNewGiantDad refers to, though it is possibly a reference to the Dark Souls’ character Giant Dad aka The Legend, whose wiki describes as “a well-known player build built exclusively for being the absolute meta in PvP.”)
In the April 26, 2017 tweet, which also tagged filmmaker Jon du Toit, who co-directed Hoaxedwith Mike Cernovich, Fields claims that other races cannot compete with the “white race” that “built modern civilization,” and praises Hitler. The screenshot does not indicate whether either Toit or Posobeic responded or otherwise interacted with Fields.
In a second archived tweet from April 20, 2017, the anniversary of Hitler’s birth, Fields posted a picture of Hitler and quoted the “14 Words” slogan that is widely considered the most popular rallying cry for white supremacists: “We must secure the existence of our people, and a future for white children.”
As Gorcenski points out, the tweet received a disturbing level of engagement: 22 retweets and 50 likes.
A screenshot from the state’s evidence against him further states, “On two occasions, Fields advocated for the creation of work camps where unnamed individuals could be worked to death.”
The Daily Dot’s search of online archives turned up another tweet by Fields, this one from June 30, 2017, six weeks before he murdered Heather Heyer at Unite the Right.
Commenting on an archived tweet by Anthime Gionet aka Baked Alaska, which read, “Both the right & left are scared of white people playing identity politics- as they know we will be incredibly effective & victorious,” Fields wrote, “Every race has practiced slavery.”
Gionet, who had second billing at Unite the Right, was later suspended from Twitter and other social media platforms. In May, he told the Dot that he has disavowed white supremacy and is trying to atone for his misdeeds. “I was brainwashed, I felt like I was part of a cult,” he said.
The Dot also found an archived blocklist that included @TheNewGiantDad. At the time the list was generated, the account had reportedly existed for about a month, in which time Fields had tweeted 271 times, followed 94 accounts, and attracted 139 followers. Via Twitter messenger, the author, @Slacktivisten, said she wasn’t sure, but thought the list was probably created around 2015. She also thought Fields’ account may have been added by @naziblocker, a block list she subscribes to. Nazi Blocker did not immediately respond to the Dot’s inquiry.
Gorcenski also notes that Fields followed white nationalist group Identity Evropa, since rebranded as American Identity Movement, which at the time was relatively unknown.
A screenshot of Fields’ purported sentencing memo indicates that these and other online interactions may have been the most meaningful relationships in his life. The memo states, “He started using Twitter in search of community. He quickly learned that provocative and hateful comments led to more [exposure] and engagement and took joy in that.
“He felt more and more popular as he played to an increasingly radicalized crowd. He followed Richard Spencer, Michael Peinovich and Identity Evropa….”
The contents of Fields’ Twitter history, considered in light of his and other acts of violence perpetrated by individuals involved with or sympathetic to white supremacy organizations, are further proof of the inherent dangers of allowing such communities to thrive online.
In a statement to the Dot, Gorcenski said, “Through the Summer of 2017, activists in Charlottesville tried desperately to warn people in power about the threats posed by the Unite the Right rally.
“Those pleas went ignored, and now almost two years later we have found everything we warned about is true: James Fields discovered the rally on social media, used his account to harass people, networked with well-known bigots and racists, and made his violent intentions explicitly clear. We must do better.”
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Claire Goforth is a Jacksonville, Florida-based journalist covering politics, culture, justice, and unicorns. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to Al Jazeera.