Believers in the bizarre online conspiracy theory QAnon are taking it into the real world, which has some observers worrying about the threat of violence.
What is the QAnon conspiracy?
According to HuffPost, QAnon is "every conspiracy, all at once, an orchestra tune-up of theories," adding it "isn’t even faintly plausible." It started last October, with a 4chan poster who called himself Q and claimed to be a high-ranking government official with a top-secret security clearance. He claimed that there was no Russian conspiracy to elect Donald Trump, that the Obama administration had actually collaborated with Russia, and that Hillary Clinton was about to be arrested along with several other Democrats.
From those humble beginnings, the QAnon conspiracy grew to incorporate false-flag shootings and child sex trafficking engineered by top Democrats, and a secret Justice Department case building against Clinton. In the QAnon world, former President Obama engineered the Parkland school shooting in a plot to repeal the Second Amendment and the Las Vegas shooting was the work of the "Clinton-Saudi cabal."
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True believers include Roseanne Barr and Infowars' Alex Jones, who have amplified the false narrative on their social media.
Why is the QAnon conspiracy resurfacing now?
The QAnon conspiracy has been growing ever more elaborate on Reddit forums, 4chan and 8chan since last fall, and it's resurfaced now because adherents have begun fighting the imaginary battle in the real world. HuffPost reports that a group called Veterans on Patrol has formed in Arizona to hunt for pedophiles with the full support of the QAnon community. The group has been patrolling the highways and called on the police to declare a state of emergency; the group's founder was arrested this month for trespassing after his hunt for pedophiles took him onto private property.
In June, a Nevada man was arrested after stopping traffic on a bridge by the Hoover Dam. He had an AR-15 in an armored vehicle and demanded the Justice Department release a report on Clinton's QAnon-concocted crimes.
QAnon has parallels to Pizzagate, the conspiracy theory that circulated during the 2016 election, claiming that Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager were connected to a fictional child-trafficking ring run out of a D.C. pizza place. It was complete BS. But it didn't stop a man from storming into a D.C. pizza restaurant and firing an assault rifle.