This post has been updated.
The Washington, D.C. neo-Nazi brothers whose violent views are detailed in a criminal complaint first reported Tuesday by the Washington Post were not just isolated online “shit-posters.” They were actively engaged in the white nationalist movement, turning up to events and interacting online with notorious figures in the community. That online trail brought them to the attention of investigators probing the social media connections of Robert Bowers, the man who murdered 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue.
A complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington Friday alleges that both Edward “Teddy” Clark and his brother Jeffrey “Raph” Clark were in touch with Bowers on the social media site Gab. Edward, 23, fatally shot himself hours after Bowers’ Oct. 27 shooting spree. Jeffrey, 30, was arrested Friday on charges of illegally possessing a firearm and high-capacity magazine. Per the complaint, two family members had notified the authorities about Jeffrey Clark’s increasingly “agitated” behavior in the wake of the Pittsburgh massacre and his brother’s suicide.
An affidavit from an FBI agent investigating the case focuses on the links between the brothers and Bowers, noting that the relatives who turned Jeffrey Clark into federal law enforcement “believed [Edward] may have been planning to commit an act of violence on the day that he died.”
Per the affidavit, Edward Clark committed suicide in DC “sometime before 12:45,” shortly after Bowers’ identity was revealed on social media, and he was found with two extra magazines of ammunition. Jeffrey Clark engaged in “unusual behavior” that day after discovering his brother missing, according to the affidavit.
“Jeffrey Clark woke up around noon on October 27, 2018, (after the Tree-of-Life Synagogue shooting) and discovered that Edward was not home,” the affidavit reads. “Despite the fact that Edward Clark was 23 years old, Jeffrey Clark called his mother to report that Edward was missing, and reported to his mother than he was going to call the police to report Edward missing.”
It notes that an FBI review of Jeffrey Clark’s since-deleted Gab account showed a photo of a blood-spattered Bowers wielding a gun, followed by the words, “Get used to it libtards. This was a dry run for things to come.” (Update: The government’s description of that Gab post changed in a subsequent court filing. The photo was not of Bowers but of a “caricature of a male armed with a rifle,” the government said in a Thursday filing. Prosecutors also said that the “dry run” reference was to Cesar Sayoc, the alleged pipe bomb sender.)
Court documents offer no further details on any potential links between Bowers and the Clark brothers.
While Bowers was little known in extremist circles before his attack, social media posts and YouTube videos from far-right events show that the brothers fraternized with many high-profile figures in this world. There are photos of the pair grinning with white nationalist Richard Spencer in front of the White House; videos of them walking through their Bloomingdale neighborhood in DC with far-right conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec; and chat logs of them interacting with “Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler.
(Jeffrey and Edward Clark with Spencer in front of the White House, photo courtesy of One People’s Project)
The brothers’ social media accounts on Gab, Twitter and Facebook were taken down Tuesday following reports of Jeffrey Clark’s arrest. Jeffrey Clark went by the names “DC Bowl Gang,” a reference to the bowl haircut worn by white nationalist Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, and “disobedient_goy.” Edward Clark’s handle was “dc_stormer.”
But they’ve been tracked for years by anti-fascist activists, and traces of their online presence still linger across the Internet.
(Photos courtesy of One People’s Project)
On Gab, which was dropped by its hosting provider in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting but is now back online, users asked what had happened to the frequent poster.
Like other white nationalists TPM has interviewed, Jeffrey Clark traced his involvement in the movement to the media’s response to the fatal 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the mass public protests that broke out in its wake.
In an April 2017 interview on the Illusion Radio podcast, Clark described Ferguson as a “big red pill” for him—a metaphor used on the far right to describe when a person began to espouse extremist views.
From there, he told the podcast, he started watching Fox News and happily followed the rise of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, noting that he “really lik[ed] what he had to say.” Clark also started interacting on social media with members of the “alt-right”—a loose amalgamation of racists, anti-Semites and misogynists—and going to their events, with his little brother in tow.
One such event was an April, 8 2017 White House rally organized by Richard Spencer to protest U.S. military intervention in Syria. Video of the scene was captured and posted to YouTube by One People’s Project, a group that tracks the far-right. In the clip, One People’s Project founder Daryle Lamont Jenkins asks Jeffrey Clark if he considers himself “to be a fascist.”
“No,”Jeffrey Clark says.
“What do you consider yourself to be?” Lamont Jenkins presses.
“A Nazi,” Jeffrey Clark replies.
The following week, the brothers returned to the White House for a Tax Day event also hosted by Spencer. One People’s Project video shows that other attendees included Patrick Casey of Identity Europa, a white nationalist group aimed at recruiting college students.
Reached my phone Wednesday, Spencer denied having a relationship with the Clark brothers or knowing that Jeffrey Clark identified as a Nazi on-camera at one of his events.
“I was never in connection with them in any way like that,” Spencer said. “When I saw pictures of them I did vaguely remember them from the time of the Syria protests.”
“I don’t know any more about them than what I read in a Washington Post article last night,” he continued. “I don’t know when he was using that kind of language.”
As HuffPost reported, the brothers then teamed up with Posobiec in May 2017 to help work on a film about the fatal shooting of Seth Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staffer whose death was fodder for far-right conspiracy theories.
In the lead-up to the August 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Jeffrey Clark enthusiastically participated in planning chats on Discord. Unicorn Riot, a group that tracks the far-right, published a trove of these conversations after the rally, which left dozens injured and anti-racist protester Heather Heyer dead.
In those chats, Clark praises rally organizer Jason Kessler as “the man,” urges participants to use the swastika and open carry weapons in the street, and claims that “winning is destroying jewish power in this country.”
Like the Pittsburgh shooter, the Clark brothers embraced direct action in lieu of playing the elaborate public relations games intended to make white nationalist rhetoric palatable to a broader audience.
The family members who spoke to the FBI said that the brothers “believed that there would be a race revolution, and they wanted to expedite it,” according to an affidavit from FBI Special Agent Michael Bauknight. They “openly discussed killing Jews and black people,” and admired Unibomber Ted Kaczynski and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, per the affidavit.
Clark made his initial court appearance in U.S. District Court on Tuesday. He was ordered held until Friday.
Read the full complaint against him below.
This post has been updated.