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 …”
In the months leading up to