A few nondescript blocks above Fresh Pond Road were roped off yesterday afternoon as the FBI arrested a former Occupy Wall Street activist who now stands accused of issuing directives requesting that the outgoing President Trump publicly execute lawmakers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
The communique from Ridgewood came in two days after the riot last week on Capitol Hill and was allegedly delivered by Brendan Hunt. It lasted 88-seconds and was posted on the British video-hosting site BitChute, a British website that’s become home to right wing agitators ejected from YouTube.
Per the affivadit by FBI Special Agent Erica Dobin, Hunt had called for viewers to “go back to the U.S. Capitol when all of the Senators and a lot of the Representatives are back there, and this time we have to show up with our guns.”
But the FBI says that it’s not likely that Hunt heeded his own call and kept his feet planted right here in Ridgewood. At his arraignment yesterday afternoon, his lawyer, a public defender, had argued that Hunt “had no plans to travel to Washington, D.C., to purchase weapons or to actually come into contact with any federal officials.”
Nonetheless, federal magistrate judge Judge Ramon Reyes ordered Hunt to be kept in custody until trial.
Hunt’s background shares some remarkable similarities with that of Aaron Mostofsky, a Brooklynite who was arrested last week after he had actually gone to Capitol Hill, draped in fur felts and giving interviews to journalists for the New York Post while carrying a riot shield around the Capitol building. Both are roughly the same age— Hunt is 37 and Mostofsky is 34 — and both are sons of members of the local judiciary: Mostofsky’s father is notable as the son of a Kings County Supreme Court Judge and Hunt is the son of a retired Family Court judge in Queens. In fact, Hunt remains directly connected to the legal system, where he has a job in the Office of Court Administration. The office told reporters that Hunt was suspended without pay following yesterday’s arrest.
Police allege Hunt had wielded further damage on Facebook.
“We’re not voting in another rigged election. Start up the firing squads, mow down these commies, and lets take america back!” an account allegedly attached to Hunt had posted.
But in addition to Democratic elected officials, allegations from the FBI claim that Hunt had little sympathy for police either.
“Fuck the lockdown po-lice! Yeah booiii run those pigs over!” Hunt is said to have posted while sharing a New York Daily News article on a Staten Island bar owner who was accused of running his car over a sheriff’s deputy while running away after getting caught serving drinks in violation of shutdown orders.
The distaste for law enforcement could nod tellingly at Hunt’s involvement in Occupy Wall Street almost a decade ago. A report from the New York Daily News observes that Hunt’s “bizarre online rants are a far cry from his days in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.” Hunt’s erstwhile affiliation with the Occupy movement made it into a number of reports on Hunt’s arrest, including a tweet from a reporter for a local ABC affiliate and a report from NBC News that reported on Hunt identifying himself “as a member of the drum circle” in several photos from one of the early 2010s Occupy protests.
In fact, Salon profiled Hunt back in 2013, where a writer for the online magazine described him as “nothing like the other Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists.” According to Salon, Hunt had published an entire book arguing that Kurt Cobain was murdered and told the online magazine that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was “pulled off by a group of tactical police officers of some kind.”
On Tuesday, the antifascist political organizing research group NYC Antifa rebuffed some of the connotations of Hunt’s erstwhile affiliation with the Occupy movement.
“Populism also gives room for conspiracies & far right ideologies to bloom,” the group says.
Top photo credit: Andrew Karpan
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