When Jeffrey “Raph” Clark Jr.’s former schoolmates learned Tuesday that he had been arrested on illegal weapons charges and had expressed support for mass-murdering Jews, they were shaken but unsurprised.
They had watched online over the past few years as Jeffrey evolved into a member of the hardcore alt-right, sharing Facebook photos of himself posing with Nazi memorabilia and attending rallies outside the White House with Richard Spencer (above).
A few tried to engage and reason with him, but Jeffrey was adamant. From the outside, he seemed to have fully embraced a worldview rooted in anti-Semitism, racism, and direct, violent action to protect the white race.
Jeffrey, 30, is currently being held in a Washington, D.C. jail awaiting charges of illegally possessing a firearm and high-capacity magazine. He was arrested on Nov. 9 after relatives warned police about his increasingly erratic behavior and praise for the man who murdered 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue on Oct. 27, according to court filings. Jeffrey’s 23-year-old brother, Edward “Teddy” Clark, committed suicide in a D.C. park within hours of the Pittsburgh shooting. Three magazines of ammunition were allegedly found on his person.
TPM reached out to family members, schoolmates, and others who crossed paths with the pair over the past few years to get a sense of how the Clark brothers’ worldview transformed.
The Clark family were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and living in Utah when Jeffrey and Edward were born. The mother worked in management consulting and the father as an accountant. The Clark family bounced around the country during the early years of Jeffrey’s life, with stints in Utah and Texas before winding up in D.C.
TPM was unable to find current contact information for their father, though he is listed as residing at the D.C. house in which the brothers were living. Their mother declined to comment.
Jeffrey graduated in 2007 from St. John’s College High School in Northwest D.C., a private Catholic school with a fairly diverse, athletics-obsessed student body. The school was closed because of snow on Thursday and TPM could not independently confirm the details of Jeffrey’s attendance.
Classmates recall Jeffrey as well-liked but a bit of an outsider among his conservative-leaning fellow students—he was an avid weed smoker who hated George W. Bush and liked punk rock and reggae. They remember him hanging out around the nearby Friendship Heights Metro station after school. One classmate recalled buying weed from him. In 2008, he was charged by Park Police with possession and distribution of marijuana, according to court filings in the gun case, but it’s not clear how that case was resolved.
Roman Franklin, a graduate of St. John’s who was friends with Jeffrey while he was at the school, told TPM that he knew “Raph” long before he became “an avid neo-Nazi MAGA person.”
“In high school we were kind of rebellious,” Franklin said. “We had this sort of attitude of screw authority.”
“He definitely seemed like he had an interest in fringe, underground stuff back then but it appeared to be on the other side of the spectrum,” said another classmate who graduated in Jeffrey’s year but asked to remain anonymous out of concern of retaliation from Jeffrey’s white nationalist associates.
The classmate recalled Jeffrey as always a bit “disheveled” with “dark circles under his eyes.” He would occasionally “get into it with other kids and be aggressive,” but just seemed like a teenager letting off steam.
“He definitely had a streak to him, like a standoffish vibe,” the classmate said. “I saw interactions where he’d like talk back to the teacher or mumble something under his breath. But I certainly never saw any expression of violence—never saw him get into a fight, hit someone. Nothing that would lead me to think, ‘Oh that guy would arm himself to the teeth and try to start a race war’ or whatever crazy shit he was saying.”
Franklin remembered Jeffrey’s younger brother Edward as “just this cute little kid who played video games” all the time. “He was way younger than us, so as far as Teddy goes, I think his whole plan was totally influenced by Raph.”
After high school, in the family home in Bloomingdale, a historically African-American neighborhood in Northwest D.C. that has gentrified in recent years, Jeffrey apparently started to feed on feelings of white grievance.
Jeffrey told Illusion Radio, a white nationalist podcast, that he was radicalized after the 2014 protests over the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. He told the podcast that he didn’t become a self-avowed “Nazi” until Trump’s election, and then became active in the movement on Twitter and in real life.
In April 2017, he was spotted for the first time at a protest against airstrikes on Syria with Spencer, where One People’s Project founder and activist Daryle Lamont Jenkins videotaped him with his brother.
“They were new to the game, and ever since then we were seeing them around from time to time, and just followed them,” Jenkins told TPM. “But they were almost always with Richard Spencer … they were basically his lieutenants almost.”
In the podcast a week after the April 2017 Syria protest, Jeffrey spoke at length about needing to “protect” Spencer from “antifa,” and proposed that neo-Nazis form a bodyguard unit to follow him around.
Spencer told TPM that he remembered seeing the brothers at his events but had little interaction with them and “didn’t really remember anything about them.”
During that month, Jeffrey started posted about his newfound neo-Nazi life on Facebook. Screenshots of his profile that Jenkins provided to TPM show Jeffrey arguing over a picture he had posted of him and Edward with Spencer, telling one Facebook friend: “Fuck you. You don’t know the first thing about white nationalism, and you are unaware that the violent savages are on your side.”
At the same time, Jeffrey was clumsily trying to convince other Facebook friends to join the neo-Nazi movement.
Screenshots show Jeffrey telling Franklin, “The truth is devastating … suffice it to say that there is a MASSIVE disinfo campaign out there that has been going on for a very long time for very specific reasons.”
“The fact is the left will continue to call all of racists nazis until you voluntarily submit to your own soft genocide,” Jeffrey wrote. “Soon enough, you’ll realize I’m right anyway.”
Franklin rebuffed Jeffrey, but Jeffrey remained obsessed. Two weeks later, he sent Franklin a video labelled “CNN Says White Genocide is ‘THE ONLY SOLUTION,’” which shows Anthony Bourdain telling a German chef over a meal that “the only solution” is a future world “where everyone is so mixed up that you really don’t know who to hate because everybody is so hopelessly intertwined.”
“Do you think it’s okay for people to have this mentality that white people should be bred out of existence???” Jeffrey wrote.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey was becoming better known among the D.C. anti-racist activists who’ve mobilized across the city during the Trump era.
On June 2, 2017, Portland State University lecturer Alex Reid Ross gave a talk on his book “Against The Fascist Creep” at the Potter’s House, a bookstore in Lanier Heights. The Clark brothers, fellow white nationalist Jamie Troutman, who used to use the Twitter handle @AltRightVA, and another unidentified individual turned up halfway through the event wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. They lightly heckled the crowd of around 30 anti-fascist activists and took videos of some without asking permission, but mostly just stood silently and kept watch.
“They looked like they craved violence, but were too small to really participate in it, so they carried that frustration everywhere,” Ross told TPM in an email. “Ed was particularly sad looking, like he never was meant to be there, and he had a hard time really focusing on anything.”
Lacy MacAuley, a J-20 activist, told TPM that after the event ended, she and a small group followed the men down the street, telling them to “go back to the suburbs, this is our city, that kind of thing.”
“I remember Jeffrey was yelling things like, ‘I live in this city! I live here!’” MacAuley said.
MacAuley said that about a month later, she received a death threat from a Twitter account using the handle “DC_Stormer,” which appeared to be used by both Clark brothers. She said the account regularly shared photos of people in wooded areas shooting off firearms.
“I responded with a few snide remarks and kind of heckled Jeffrey for sending these things,” MacAuley said. “But inwardly it’s quite terrifying. I received a lot of death threats throughout 2017, but that was one I viewed as highly credible. It’s this violent person who trains with guns who lives in my city.”
Both brothers’ Gab, Twitter and Facebook accounts were taken down following reports of Jeffrey’s arrest.
Mark Pitcavage, an expert on far-right extremism at the Anti-Defamation League, told TPM that they were familiar with the brothers’ social media handles and had seen their faces at white nationalist rallies, but it wasn’t until this week that they were able to put the two together.
That summer, Jeffrey engaged in planning for the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Discord, a chat app popular with gamers. Previously leaked chats show him urging participants to wear swastika paraphernalia and openly carry weapons in the street. He also seemed to identify himself as a member of Vanguard America, a violent white supremacist group.
Both brothers subsequently attended the Charlottesville rally. The criminal complaint against Jeffrey notes that their relatives showed the FBI a photo of the pair holding a Vanguard America flag. An email associated with Vanguard America did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment on the brothers’ membership.
The relatives’ accounts included in the complaint paint the brothers as listless and reclusive. They allegedly spent a good deal of time online, where they were added as friends on Gab by suspected Pittsburgh attacker Robert Bowers, and collected gun parts, including AR-15 rifle conversion kits. The brothers would smoke weed and play video games like “Ethnic Cleansing,” and Jeffrey sold marijuana, relatives allegedly told the FBI.
Then came the Pittsburgh shooting on the morning of Oct. 27. Bowers’ name quickly leaked to the press, and reports circulated that Gab was cooperating with the investigation. Edward went to Theodore Roosevelt Island on the Potomac River, carrying three magazines of ammunition and a Beretta pistol, according to court filings.
A passerby witnessed Edward’s body “laying on a rock” and authorities were called, according to a D.C. Metropolitan Police Department report. The fire department declared him dead at the scene and transported his body to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for investigation, according to the report. The medical examiner’s office confirmed to TPM that “the decedent’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head, and the manner of death was ruled a suicide.”
A relative allegedly told the FBI that Jeffrey had “engaged in unusual behavior” that day, rising at noon and expressing alarm at Edward’s absence, according to the FBI affidavit. Jeffrey called his mother, who lives in another state, to inform her that he was going to call the police and report that Edward was missing, per the affidavit.
Relatives were concerned about Jeffery’s increasingly erratic behavior in the days after his brother’s death. FBI investigators looking into Bowers’ online presence saw posts on Jeffrey’s account praising “the hero” for murdering the 11 victims, according to court documents.
Jeffrey was arrested on Nov. 9. On Thursday, federal prosecutors requested that he be detained while he awaits trial, claiming he poses a threat to the community. Court documents included photographs the FBI took of his bedroom showing a trove of weapons—flak jackets, ammunition, a noose—and white nationalist paraphernalia—swastika flags, a flier for neo-Nazi terrorist group Atomwaffen Division.
They also included transcripts of an FBI interview with Jeffrey, in which he allegedly claimed that Jewish groups were funding the migrant caravan currently passing through Mexico, discussed his concerns about the U.S. government confiscating citizens’ guns, and said he wanted to found a white nationalist community in West Virginia.
Two days before Jeffrey’s arrest, Edward was buried at the Orem City Cemetery in Provo, Utah.
An online obituary describes Edward as “blessed with a keen intellect, razor sharp wit, and an insatiable curiosity. He lit up a room when he entered it and brought unbounded joy to his family and all who knew him. His generous and kind spirit had an impact on everyone he encountered, and he was loved by more people than he could know.”
The website asked visitors to leave condolences or tributes to Edward in a comments section. As of this writing, the box was empty.