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February 29, 2024 24 mins

Patriot Front’s Thomas Rousseau has been arrested for a felony, but what is it? Molly Conger recaps the ongoing prosecutions of the tiki torch mob.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Cool Zone Media.

Speaker 2 (00:05):
Hello, and welcome back to It could happen here. I
am once again your guest host, Molly Conger, and today
I'm going to tell you about something that is happening
here here being my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. You might
have seen the news recently that Patriot Front leader Thomas
Ryan Russo was arrested in Texas on an out of
state felony warrant. On February twenty third, authorities in McLennan County, Texas,

(00:28):
arrested Rousseau and booked him into the county jail. The
jail roster lists the offense as burn object to intimidate
OH slash s that OS means out of state, and
it lists Virginia as the state issuing the warrant. And
Rousseau's arrest certainly made a splash when the news hit.
Nazi telegram channels lit up with posts about his arrest.

(00:50):
Gab feeds were flooded with hastily made graphics decrying this
political persecution. This sudden spike and interest in a little
used Virginia Code section might make you think Russeau was
the first person to be taken into custody on this
charge that perhaps he was targeted for arrest in some
kind of grand political plan to take him out of
the game. But he is in fact the eleventh person

(01:13):
to be arrested in just the last year for participating
in the Tiki Torch march at the University of Virginia
on August eleventh, twenty seventeen. These cases have been working
their way through the system here for long enough that
some of Russeau's Code defendants have not only already been
found guilty, they've served their time and gotten back out.
But with this sudden surge and interest in this case,

(01:34):
I want to give you all a little background on
the other ten. If you'll indulge me for a moment, though,
I'd like to read you something I wrote nearly a
year ago, just as the first cases were being unsealed.
There is no statute of limitations on felonies in Virginia.
With that in mind, here's section eighteen point two Dash
four twenty three point oh one Dash B of the

(01:57):
Code of Virginia. Burning objects on property of another or
a highway or other public place with intent to intimidate
any person who with the intent of intimidating any person
or group of persons burns an object on a highway
or other public place in a manner having a direct
tendency to place another person in reasonable fear or apprehension
of death or bodily injury is guilty of a Class

(02:20):
six felony. On August eleventh, twenty seventeen, hundreds of torch
bearing marchers traversed the grounds of the University of Virginia.
They'd come to Charlottesville from across the country, taking Friday
morning flights or taking turns at the wheel for cross
country drives, and rented vans with guys they met on
message boards. Arriving early before the big event. The following morning,

(02:42):
they gathered at Nameless Field, a grassy acre near the
Via tennis courts with a deceptive name, and distributed tiki torches.
Men with walkie talkies clipped to their belts, some with
wired earpieces, barked orders. Elliott Kleine, an ambitious young white
nationalist organizer calling himself Eli Moseley to the twentieth century
British fascist Oswald Mosley, shouted at the crowd as they

(03:04):
formed into a line or picking big guys, no females.
Klein and his security team would be selecting the biggest
marshers to lay down their torches and keep the perimeter
as the march moved through the university grounds, they might
need their hands free. The march wound its way through grounds,
up the lawn, then up the steps of the University
of Virginia's iconic rotunda. On the other side of the rotunda,

(03:27):
gathered near the statue of Thomas Jefferson, a small group
of anti racist protesters waited. In her testimony during a
later civil trial, one of the women who was terrorized
that night said of the sound of the approaching crowd.
When we heard the roaring, we just linked arms and
held hands and started to sing. She said. At first
it sounded like thunder, like the earth was growling. As

(03:52):
they grew closer, but before she could see the light
of the torches, she began to make out the chance
hundreds of voices raised in Unison, shouting blood and soil.
Testifying about that night four years later, she said she
could still hear it sometimes in her nightmares, and by
the time the small group of mostly students realized the

(04:13):
magnitude and ferocity of the approaching mob, it was too late.
They were surrounded fully encircled at the base of the
statue by hundreds of torch wielding white supremacists for a
few minutes, minutes that those trapped at the base of
the statue said they believed might be their last. As
they were doused in lighter fluid, maced, and punched. There
was a melee. The police made no move to intervene,

(04:35):
as streams of pepper spray were let loose and cries
of medic were audible above the roar of you will
not replace us. When the trapped counter protesters were finally
able to flee, stumbling blindly with burning eyes and covering
their heads in a hail storm of fists and torches,
the marchers declared victory. Richard Spencer, an organizer of that

(04:55):
weekend's rally, climbed the base of the statue and delivered
a victory speech to the still roaring crow out now
shouting hail, victory, Hail Spencer. Spencer told them, we occupy
this ground. We won.

Speaker 3 (05:13):
Girls, are all right, all right? All right? Were these
freaks on these rights.

Speaker 4 (05:36):
By this ground?

Speaker 3 (05:37):
We only one?

Speaker 4 (05:45):
What in the hell are we doing out here? What
in the hell are we doing risking our lives. Are
were risking our lives, for our people, for our ancestors,
for our future. That's how we're doing what you're think
an antick arts long, you're thinking antibuck and feed.

Speaker 2 (06:15):
The marchers dispersed to their various hotels, campgrounds and airbnbs.
Spencer later said cheekly that he booked his under the
pseudonym literally Hitler. They had to rest up for the
real battle in the morning, and while they slept, a
young man from Ohio was driving through the night, perhaps
already knowing that his gray Dodge Challenger would be impounded

(06:36):
as a murder weapon. Before he slept again, he checked
Twitter and retweeted a post David Duke had tweeted images
of the Torch March celebrating the alt right success that
evening with the caption our people on the march, will
you be at Unite the Right tomorrow. As he left
Ohio that evening, the young man and the Dodge Challenger

(06:57):
got a text from his mother, a text weave all
probably gotten from our mothers. She said, be careful and
James Alex Fields Junior, in one of the last texts
he sent before a lifetime behind bars, replied to his
mother with a photograph of Hitler and the words we
are not the ones who need to be careful. Years later,

(07:21):
the word Charlesville has become synonymous with those two fused images,
Fields's mangled challenger and an iconic photo of the crowd
torches and hands the rotunda at their backs. Fields was
convicted both in state and federal court of Heather Hire's
murder and multiple counts of aggravated malicious wounding. Daniel Bordon,
Alex Ramos, Jacob Goodwin, and Tyler Watkins went away for

(07:45):
a brutal gang beating of a young black man. Richard Preston,
an imperial wizard in the Ku Klux Klan, did some
time for discharging his firearm in the general direction of
another young black man while shouting die and word. But
all in all, for all the violence of both days,
there was a curious reluctance to bring charges for anything
that didn't rise to the level of attempted murder, and

(08:05):
some things that did. There are thousands of photographs videos
from every conceivable angle taken by victims, bystanders, professional photojournalists,
and even the marchers themselves. Their faces are uncovered, their
motives are clear, and the law is fairly straightforward, but
the University of Virginia lies within the jurisdiction of Albemarle County.

(08:27):
In twenty seventeen, Apemwal County commonwealths Attorney Robert Tracy chose
not to bring any burning objects cases under Section eighteen
point two Dash four twenty three. He didn't think he
could make a case against the tiki torch mob, or
maybe he didn't want to. The commonwealths Attorney for the
City of Charlesville all the time, Dave Chapman, wrote in
a memo in October of that year that he did
believe the cases could be made, but they weren't his

(08:50):
to prosecute. But in Virginia, prosecutors come and go, and
a felony lives forever. In a October twenty nineteen debate
between then sitting Prosecutor Robert Tracy and his challenger, Jim Hinchley,
Tracy again scoffed at the idea of indicting these cases,
even saying that Hindley's belief that it was possible was
a sign he was inexperienced and wrong for the job.

(09:13):
A month later, Hineley won the election, and now it
seems he's trying to make good on his campaign promise
of proving Robert Tracy wrong. In February twenty twenty three,
the Albumole County Commonwealth's Atorney's office quietly sought and got
indictments under the Burning object Statute. A grand jury agreed
with Hindley there was probable cause to believe that objects

(09:35):
had been burned with the intent to intimidate. Fugitive warrants
were issued, arrests were made by local police and far
ranging jurisdictions, And now, nearly six years after that hot
night in August, the extraditions are starting. I want to
share with you the stories of the men who carried
torches that night. Some of them are now facing felony

(09:55):
charges of Almorle County. Others may come to share that fate.
After the crowd dispersed that night, and after the deadly
rally the next morning, those men went home. Some started businesses,
some died, Some trafficked drugs, beat their wives, choked their girlfriends,
went to grad school, went to prison, started families, ran

(10:16):
for office, left the movement, tried to lead the movement,
or just tried to disappear. There are as many stories
as there were flames in the night, when their voices
joined as one, shouting, Jews will not replace us, then
going their separate ways back to the communities they came from.

(10:36):
And now some of them are on their way back,
this time against their will. So I wrote that about
ten months ago, last April, just as the first cases
were unsealed. Obviously a lot's happened since then. But before
I get into a recap of those first ten cases,
let's hear a brief word about some products and services.

(11:09):
So if Thomas Rousseau is number eleven on this list
of tiki torch defendants who were the first ten, the
grand jury that convened in February of last year handed
down the first five indictments, will Zachary Smith, William Billy Williams,
Tyler Dykes, Dallas, Medina, and William Fears. Will Smith of Nakona,

(11:30):
Texas was the first in custody. He was actually already
in custody here in Charlottesville when the first charges were filed.
He had been indicted on a separate felony charge back
in twenty eighteen for Pepper Spring the counter protesters that night,
but remained a fugitive until his arrest in January twenty
twenty three, so when the prosecutor brought the torch charges
to the grand jury in February, it was probably an

(11:52):
easy first choice. Will Smith pled guilty to the torch
charge in May in a sealed plea deal that dropped
the much more serious pepper spray felony, and was allowed
to return home without being sentenced. Billy Williams traveled here
with will Smith back in twenty seventeen. The pair were
acting as bodyguards for Robert Asmadore Ray, the Daily Stormer blogger,

(12:15):
who is actually also still a wanted fugitive on a
felony charge of pepper spraying those counter protesters that night.
When Billy Williams was extradited from Texas in April of
last year, he was denied bond after some apparent dishonesty
regarding his relationship with Robert Ray. Through his attorney, he

(12:36):
denied having had any contact with Ray while he was
a fugitive. He in fact claimed they barely knew each other,
having met only a couple of times. I can tell
you that's not that's not true. But after claiming that
they'd had no contact in the intervening years. The prosecutor
revealed in the bond hearing that law enforcement partners had
shared information with his office that they believe that not

(12:59):
only had they been contact, but that Ray had been
living with Williams, living on his property while he was
in hiding as a fugitive. Williams two pled guilty to
the burning object charge in July, receiving an active sentence
of six months but with time served and good behavior.
He was home barely two weeks after entering his plea,
but not before he missed the birth of his seventh

(13:22):
child with his common law wife. Tyler Diykes was arrested
on Saint Patrick's Day. He'd been out with other members
of the white supremacist group the Southern Sons Active Club,
trying to hang a racist banner from a highway overpass
in Savannah, Georgia, when he was unfortunately bitten by a dog.
I do not have information on what came of the dog.
I hope he's okay, concerned about infection, though, Tyler Diykes

(13:45):
went to the emergency room to have the wound looked at.
In Georgia, as in most states, emergency rooms contact the
police to report dog bite injuries. An officer was dispatched
to the hospital to take a report from Dikes about
the dog bite incident, which is a fairly routine situation,
but somewhere during their interaction in the hospital, the officer

(14:05):
ran Dike's name to the system and it came back
with a warrant. A panicked Dikes sent his hate group
group chat a quick text, I'm being arrested by Virginia
nuke my account. In video of the melee the base
of the statue on August eleven, twenty seventeen, Dikes can
be seen throwing punches even after everyone else had stopped,

(14:27):
and then celebrating the victory by marching around in a weird,
tight little circle with his right arm extended in a
Nazi salute. Dikes pled guilty to the torch charge in
May and received the same six month act of sentence
Williams had gotten with time served and good behavior. He
was released in July. I wonder if he expected to
see his elderly parents waiting for him in the parking
lot outside of the album ArHL Charltsville Regional Jail that day,

(14:50):
but he never made it that far. US marshals took
him into federal custody before he ever walked outside. He's
currently out on bond, awaiting trial on ten counts for
his participate patient in the January sixth insurrection. Dallas Medina
of Ohio turned himself in in April and was allowed
to return home on bond. He had been an active
member of an extremely online group of mass shooting enthusiasts

(15:12):
calling themselves the Bowl Patrol, so named after the bull
cut hair styles sported by their idol, Dylan Roof. After
a feud with Chris the Crying Nazi Catwell ended with
Catwell in federal prison, the group more or less fell
apart in twenty twenty. Medina hasn't appeared in court since
his bond hearing in April, and he doesn't yet have
a trial date. William Fiers was booked into the Albumoral

(15:35):
Charlesville Regional Jail in June after being transferred from the
Texas prison where he was serving a sentence for domestic violence.
Just two months after Unite the Right, William Fears beat
and choked his girlfriend. A few days later, he traveled
to Florida with his brother, Colton Fears and their friend
Tyler Tenbrink. To see Richard Spencer's speech at the University
of Florida. He knew when he left town for Gainesville

(15:57):
that week that his girlfriend had reported the assault, having
already been to prison for abducting and stabbing a different
ex girlfriend years earlier, He knew another conviction would put
him away for a while, and he wanted one last
shot at starting the race war before they got him.
In video from the Torch March, William Fears can be
seen swinging his torch at a counter protester, screaming Die Commie.

(16:21):
Fears remains in custody but does not yet have a
trial date. William's brother, Colton Fears, joined him at the
Albumarle Charlesville Regional Jail in September. I suspect the jail
probably kept them separated, but it still would have been
the closest the brothers had been in years. When the
brothers were in Gainesville in October of twenty seventeen, their
friend Tyler Tenbrink shot at a group of anti fascist

(16:42):
counter protesters after Richard Spencer's speech. Thankfully, no one was injured,
but Tenbrink was convicted of attempted first degree homicide. Colton
Fears was driving the car when the men left the
scene of the shooting, and spent five years in a
Florida prison for accessory after the fact to attempted first
degree homicide. Colton was released in twenty twenty two and
returned home to Texas, where he was then arrested in

(17:05):
August twenty twenty three on the burning object charge. After
pleading guilty in October, he was allowed to return home
prior to sentencing. Ryan Roy of Vermont turned himself in
in May. If you've been reading the voluminous leagues that
seemed to be constantly springing forth from Patriot Front's online comms,
you may know him better as Rex. It looks like

(17:27):
he's stayed quite busy in the years since Unite the
Right as a member of Patriot Front. He is currently
home on bond and does not yet have a trial date.
Jamie Troutman of West Virginia turned himself in in October
under the pseudonym Altright VA. Troutman was an active organizer
and planner of the Unit the Right rally. He was
present at many of the precursor events that took place
here in Charlesville during the Summer of Hate, including the

(17:49):
two other torch marches, smaller torchlit rallies that were held
in downtown Charlottesville in May and October of that year.
Like Dyke's photos show, Troutman was present at the Capitol
on January sixth, though in Troutman's case no charges have
been filed, he too is home on bond with no
trial date set. And before we get to the last

(18:10):
two of those first ten cases, let's hear from someone
who has also not been charged in connection with the
militant reactionary attempt to overthrow the US government these products
and services. The final two of these first ten torch

(18:33):
cases are the messy ones. So we've got these four
guilty please, and we've got four cases that are sort
of moving along slowly down the usual path. And then
we've got two cases where the defendants have had some
success bogging the cases down with motions. Jacob Dix of
Ohio was arrested in July. Dix is seen in photos

(18:54):
and video on the eleventh and twelfth with two other
Ohio men, his roommate Ryan Martin, who recently passed away,
and Daniel Borden, one of the men convicted of beating
a man nearly to death during the rally on August twelfth.
I'm sure we'll learn more about Dix as his case progresses,
but I have found him in photos with the Traditionalist
Worker Party at the Nazi rally in Pikeville earlier that

(19:14):
same summer. In his torch case, he has been granted
both a substitute judge and a special prosecutor based on
a sort of nebulous though very loudly argued conspiracy theory
involving the wife of a judge who is not even
presiding over his case and a prosecutor who has a
history of expressing anti racist political views in his personal life.

(19:36):
Dix is out on bond. With the recent rule in
granting him a special prosecutor, we may be seeing a
trial date get set in the near future. And finally,
Augustus Sole Invictus until Rousseau was arrested last week, the
biggest name in this batch was Augustus and Victus. Even
before his name was on the fliers as a headline

(19:57):
speaker at Unite the Right, Invictus was no stranger to thees.
In twenty sixteen, he ran for US Senate in Florida
as a libertarian. His campaign was marred by such controversies
as his own past statements on eugenics, a twenty thirteen
ritual sacrifice of a goat, his legal representation of white
supremacist militia leader Marcus Faiella, and numerous police reports from

(20:20):
both his wife and his teenage girlfriend alleging domestic violence.
In the years since, Invictis never did become a US
senator despite a second attempt, and never did get convicted
of domestic violence despite many, many more police reports. He's
also no longer a pagan. Asked recently about the goat

(20:43):
blood drinking ritual he performed in twenty thirteen, he quipped
that he drinks human blood now just a little transubstantiation
joke about his recent conversion to traditional Catholicism. Invictus was
arrested on the burning object charge in Florida in June
twenty twenty three and held for a month before being
extradited to Virginia and released on bond. Like Dix, he

(21:04):
has been granted a substitute judge. He too is seeking
a special prosecutor, but no ruling was made at his
last hearing. Currently, his case is docketed for trial next month.
But I'm willing to bet that gets postponed. So that's
more or less where we are now. Rousseau is the
eleventh man to be charged in these cases. We've got
four guilty please on the record, leaving him as one

(21:26):
of seven open cases. We can expect to see Rousseau
extradited from Texas to Virginia in the near future. I
would say maybe a week or two, although some of
them have been held for up to a month before
a deputy can get down there and bring them back.
Something I was really surprised to learn in all of
this is in most extraditions for state cases like this,

(21:47):
like these are not federal cases. These are local cases.
When someone gets extradited long distance, a deputy just flies
down there and then they fly back together on a
commercial airline. It's not like a con air situation. They're
just on an airplane together. So it really depends on
when a deputy can sort of get down there and

(22:07):
get them. So he'll be extradited sometime in the next
few weeks, and then once he's booked into the album
RL Charltsville Regional Jail, he'll get an appearance in court.
It's anybody's guest right now who he'll hire to represent him.
Former Proud Boy and current Patriot Front lawyer Jason Lee
van Dyke was thoughtful enough to reply to one of
my tweets about Rousseau's arrest to say that he will
not be taking this case. As much as he would

(22:29):
have loved to try this case, which he said that
he would do a very good job doing and he
could definitely do it, and unfortunately he just can't. He
cited the difficulty in finding local council to assist. He's
not admitted to the bar in Virginia, so who would
need someone who is to sort of sponsor him in
and be responsible for him in the case. So he said,
you know, he can't find local council, and also it

(22:50):
would just be two time consuming and too expensive to
try a case in Virginia as he's located in Texas.
So it won't be Jason Lee van Dyke writing about
these cases in my newsletter The Devil's Advocates. It's on Ghost,
which is like substack, but it's not substack. It's Ghost
and I'm looking forward to writing some updates very soon.

(23:11):
The finding out for this particular fucking around has been
a long time coming, and I can't help but wonder
if these cases had been brought sooner, Patriot Front might
not even exist. You know, I suspect once Rousseau has
gotten a lawyer, he will ask for a bond hearing.
That's probably what's next. It's impossible to know how much

(23:32):
information other law enforcement agencies are interested in sharing with
the local prosecutor, but that kind of information sharing did
play a critical role in some of the other cases.
In bond hearings for Billy Williams and Tyler Diykes, information
about the defendant's associations and activities collected by other local
police agencies and federal authorities was what kept them in custody.

(23:55):
In Diykes's case, several police and sheriff's departments in South
Carolina and George Arja shared information that he was a
suspect in some like swastika vandalism cases, some flying cases.
It's not clear if the FEDS shared information ahead of
time about the January sixth case, but it is it
is clear that the prosecutor's office was talking to other

(24:15):
law enforcement agencies who'd been keeping tabs on these guys.
And I think you would be a fool to think
the FEDS don't have some information about Rousseau that might
raise a judge's eyebrow. I guess we'll just have to
wait and see.

Speaker 1 (24:34):
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