Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry

Philadelphia Police Stop Potential Election-Related Attack by QAnon Adherent

  • November 6, 2020
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Photo credit: Kimberly Paynter/WHYY

On November 5, 2020, Philadelphia police arrested two men from Virginia, thwarting a possible attack targeting people counting votes from Tuesday’s election at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Antonio LaMotta, 61, and Joshua Macias, 42, were arrested after police received a tip that the men were traveling to Philadelphia to allegedly engage in unspecified criminal activity. Police arrested the two men as they approached officers who were investigating their vehicle, which was parked outside of the convention center. In their initial investigation, police discovered several guns including handguns and an assault rifle, as well as 160 rounds of ammunition, according to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. On Friday, November 6, 2020, Krasner emphasized that his office is still gathering information and indicated that his office would likely charge the men with illegal possession of firearms. Krasner said it was possible his office would also use election-related charges against the men.


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The vehicle, a civilian version of the military’s Hummer, has at least four QAnon-related stickers affixed to it, including two with the code #WWG1WGA, the most common Q hashtag, which stands for “Where we go one, we go all.” Police also found a fisherman’s cap with a QAnon patch on it, and one of suspects was wearing a QAnon hat at the time of his arrest.

QAnon is a convoluted right-wing conspiracy theory whose adherents believe Donald Trump is trying to save America from a shadowy cabal of elitist, Democratic pedophiles. This dangerous theory has promoted antisemitic tropes and has inspired followers to commit multiple instances of real-world violence.


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The Suspects

Antonio LaMotta of Chesapeake, Virginia, is a U.S. Army veteran who owns his own private security firm. His highly conspiratorial worldview is reflected on his Twitter account, which includes posts about the Illuminati, Pizzagate, “Khazarian Satan worshipers,” 9/11 false flags and the Rothschild family’s “world domination,” which echoes a number of longstanding antisemitic conspiracy theories.

LaMotta appears to be a devout QAnon believer and has posted his own illustrations and cartoons to his Twitter page depicting President Trump as the “Trumpinator,” single-handedly battling the forces of evil. One drawing shows Virginia Governor Ralph Northam supplying other “Democratic elites” with fresh babies to bolster their adrenochrome supplies. (Adrenochrome is a real chemical compound produced by the oxidation of adrenaline. However, QAnon believers claim that the elite harvest adrenochrome from the adrenal glands of trafficked children, using it as a youth-extending elixir).  

LaMotta embraces a vigilante approach to safeguarding society. He started an unsuccessful campaign to raise money through GoFundMe to “organize armed patriots for the people and businesses of Virginia, to provide needed armed security in sectors or predicaments not covered by law-enforcement agencies...24/7.”

Joshua Macias of Chesapeake, Virginia, is a U.S. Navy veteran and real estate investment specialist as well as an advisor to the Vets for Trump organization. He is a staunch Second Amendment advocate, and attended the January 2020 gun rights “Lobby Day” in Richmond, Virginia. He is vehemently opposed to all state coronavirus-related lockdown restrictions.

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On the evening of November 5, 2020, Macias posted a livestream Facebook video of himself standing outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City Philadelphia. In the video, Macias called on fellow patriots to fight and “not give up our freedoms” and “ensure that every legitimate vote is counted. Not these ballot stuffers that are going on in these back rooms.” He continued, “we are in a fight for America as we know it” and concluded by encouraging others to “get off of their seats and take action.”

Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry

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