Inside the Greensboro Coliseum on June 14, 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump unleashed one of his more memorably over-the-top campaign promises: “We are going to start winning again. We’re gonna win at every single level. We’re gonna win so much that you’re gonna beg me: ‘Please, Mr. President, we’re winning so much. We cannot stand it. Please, a little less winning, Mr. President.’”

The speech, coming two days after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, dripped with menace.

The candidate veered abruptly from his themejobs and tradeto read from a Washington Times report connecting shooter Omar Mateen and Islamic extremism in Afghanistan. Later, Trump read a poem called “The Snake,” which he used as an allegory for treacherous outsiders who exploit the kindness of benefactors.

“Now, you have to think of this in terms of Islamic terror,” he said. “You have to think of it in terms of our border. You have to think of it in terms of all the people that are crossing, that are criminals, that are killing people and hurting people.”

Outside the coliseum, protesters held signs reading, “Trump makes America hate again,” and, “A vote for Trump is a vote for fear, bigotry, racism, and fascism,” while supporters waved Confederate and Gadsden flags. Right-wing militias interposed themselves between Trump supporters and protesters, and hundreds of police officers stood ready in case of a disturbance. A dozen protesters were arrested, both for disrupting the rally inside and for misdemeanors like disorderly conduct, although the event remained largely peaceful.

As the rally was winding down, Rod Webber, a documentary filmmaker from Boston, intercepted Jason Passmore, a militia activist from Browns Summit. A video of the encounter posted on YouTube begins with Passmore giving a perfunctory after-report.

“We’re happy it turned out peaceful, and no violence as of yet, so hopefully we can all go home and see our families,” said Passmore, sunglasses propped on the camouflage bill of his hat. “And that’s all that matters.”

Passmore’s friend, Manuel Luxton, with wraparound shades and a walrus mustache, stood on the sidewalk holding a Gadsden flag.

“You got anything?” Webber asked Luxton.

“End the Fed,” Luxton responded. “Stop the war crimes against the people of Novorossiya.”

Trump’s seeming admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of many threads in the campaign, but the term Novorossiya is still unfamiliar to most Americans. Mostly that’s because it’s not a real country, but a relic of imperial Russia. Situated north of the Black Sea, the territory was seized from the Ottoman Empire by Russia in the late eighteenth century, then became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic under the Soviet Union and remained part of independent Ukraine after the Cold War.

Before Luxton could expand on his sympathetic view toward Russia’s expansionist aims, someone caught Passmore’s eyesa man he thought was a federal agent.

“Ports, forts, and ten square miles, you son of a bitch!” Passmore yelled.

For far-right militia activists, this phrase is foundational doctrine. The Constitution grants Congress the power “to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding 10 miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of government of the United States.” The Tenth Amendment, reserving “all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution” to the states, in turn, invalidates the authority of the FBI and other federal agencies, according to the logic of far-right constitutionalists.

“Anything else is violation of the U.S. Constitution and is a tyrannical act of the federal government,” Passmore said. “And, uh, it should be dealt with appropriately.”

As the militia activists took leave of the filmmaker, Passmore, a former military contractor in Afghanistan, issued a parting shot at a cluster of protesters who’d been arguing against Trump’s stance toward Syrian refugees.

“Muslims don’t coexist!” Passmore shouted.

A debate ensued, drawing the militia activists back into the fray. Luxton fell into a rant stitched out of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

“They’re trying to start a war against Russia, who’s never done anything against us, despite numerous provocations,” he said. “Despite U.S. and London bankers backing the non-Russian Bolsheviks, who murdered more than a hundred million Russians, mostly Christians, that’s just swept under the rug of history.”

Trump’s paeans to “the forgotten people” and disparagement of “globalists” resonate with this alt-right view of Jewish people as a powerful, manipulative force shaping the course of history to undermine the white, Christian homeland. Fear of Muslims, refugees, and migrants, coupled with resentment of a supposed globalist elite, would build the foundation of Trumpism and supply themes that would reverberate back and forth between a future president who rails against the “Deep State” and a right-wing militia movement already prone to conspiratorial views of federal government.

Three days after the Trump rally, Passmore posted a photo of himself on Facebook with Luxton and other friends outside the Greensboro Coliseum, writing, “This will be the start of something great.” He elaborated in a separate comment: “GCM (Guilford County Militia). How does that sound to everyone?”

Wth Trump’s election, the aspirations of newly emboldened white nationalists transitioning from internet trolls to street fighters would soon collide with a re-energized antifascist resistance, culminating in fierce clashes and a deadly car-ramming attack after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.

The new alt-right shares an activist ecosystem with the older far-right militia movement, which emerged in the nineties in response to federal agencies’ enforcement actions at Ruby Ridge in northern Idaho and the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. From an ideological standpoint, militia activists identify as patriots, constitutionalists, and “Three Percenters”an allusion to the idea that only a select few colonists took up arms to overthrow British rule.

It’s easy for those on the outside to paint the militia movement with a broad brushthat they’re all animated by racism or white supremacy. The truth is more complex. Militia groups aren’t monolithic. Some, for example, have disavowed white nationalism and struck up conversations with antifascists in hopes of maintaining public safety, protecting property, and upholding the First Amendment.

But while it claims to be open to all races, there’s no denying that the broader militia movement has provided a haven for violent white supremacists. Many militia groups have embraced the same causes as white nationalists, including the veneration of Confederate monuments and hostility toward Muslims. They also tend to share a hostility toward antifascists, which is usually repackaged in the rhetoric of anticommunism.

Passmore and his associates have formed a cohesive set. Many of the individuals who showed up to the 2016 Trump rally also went to Unite the Right a year later, as well as other events focused on preserving the legacy of the Confederacy and promoting Islamophobia. A close look at their activism reveals how far-right activists can choose from a buffet of ideologies and esoteric interestsneo-Confederate, anti-Muslim, anti-migrant, anti-Semitic, conspiratorial anti-globalist, extreme libertarian, Second Amendment absolutist, anti-modernity, male chauvinist, even flat-earththat every member may not share.

Many of these views, particularly neo-Confederate and anti-Muslim, share currency with the patriot movement. And for that reason, these self-styled patriots, even those who denounce white supremacy, may not recognizeor may be willfully blind towhite nationalism within their ranks, allowing resurgent white supremacists to organize and recruit from within the larger far-right universe.

Jason Passmore’s fluid stance on white nationalism can often be found among the hardened warriors of the militia movement. Paradoxically, as the father of biracial children, Passmore embraces a vision of racial enclaves, while professing a willingness to fight alongside both David Duke and Louis Farrakhan against a “tyrannical government.”

Despite his disavowal of racism, Passmore has literally weaponized white nationalism by conducting firearms training with white racialist activists, including Luxton, who calls himself a national socialist, and Cody Beachy, who has publicly expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, whose bloody war on drugs has claimed more than twelve thousand lives.

And Passmore has insinuated that he would be willing to use violence against federal authorities. Five days before the 2016 Trump rally, he posted on Facebook: “Anyone that feels we should just talk on Facebook and have meetings without shooting and training for a fight is not on my sheet of music. … When it comes to a fight, we will stop the blood or shoot the people that shoot at you.”

Beachy, who could not be reached for comment for this story, responded, “I got your six.”

Passmore says that shortly after the Trump rally, he received a visit from a Joint Terrorism Task Force comprised of elements of the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

“They knocked on my door and wanted to talk, accused me of being a terrorist,” Passmore recalls. “They asked me if I would turn in anyone who tried to coerce me or involve me in a terrorist act. I politely told them no, I wouldn’t because they don’t have no jurisdiction.”

Passmore says he was radicalized by the Ruby Ridge siege, a 1992 incident in which U.S. marshals scouted the homestead of a loner named Randy Weaver, who was wanted on gun charges in a remote corner of northern Idaho. A deadly shootout set in motion an eleven-day siege that resulted in the death of Weaver’s wife by FBI sniper fire. Now thirty-three, he met Weaver at age fifteen.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Passmore has an inherent distrust of U.S. foreign policy. He believes the 9/11 attacks were an inside job. And, even though he went to Afghanistan as a contractorhe did so strictly for financial reasons, he says, as his business struggled when the recession hithe believes the military has no business in the Middle East. He even marched in Greensboro to protest the impending invasion of Iraq.

“I protested the war before I went to Afghanistan,” Passmore says. “I don’t think we should be in Afghanistan or Iraq. It’s a waste of money and lives. We shouldn’t be involved in Israel or Syria. I can say firsthand I’ve seen our government play both sides.”

Passmore says he’d been conducting firearms training with four to seven Three Percenters from across the state at the time at the 2016 Trump rally. He’d met Luxton four years prior at a training with a group of North Carolina Three Percenters and invited him to join him for rifle practice. Passmore says he met Beachy after the Trump rally. Following a background check to ensure that he wasn’t an undercover agent, Passmore says Beachy joined the Guilford County Militia for a couple of trainings.

On June 30, 2016, Passmore posted a call for “open recruiting” for GCM on his Facebook page. The post indicated the group was open to all, regardless of “age, sex, creed, color, religion.” The newly minted militia appropriated the Guilford Courthouse flag, the banner flown by patriots during the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1781.

On Independence Day 2016, Passmore posted a photo of himself and his crew practicing riflery from a shed roof, commenting, “God, please grant us the strength and protection we will soon need. Please … protect our family from the storm they will surely be exposed to. We know this fight is righteous. Please keep us brave in the face of evil. May our bullets fly true and our friends keep us well supplied.”

Casey Becknell, a forty-three-year-old Civil War re-enactor from Lexington, commented, “And may God bless Dixie thru it all.”


Soon after Trump’s election, the North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan drew international headlines with a pledge to hold a “victory parade.” When the appointed date of December 3 arrived, upward of one hundred mostly masked far-left antifascists from the Triangle were waiting at the anticipated parade route in rural Caswell County, armed with aluminum baseball bats. The Loyal White Knights finally mustered a motorcade around 3:00 p.m.but surfaced two counties away in Roxboro.

Encouraged by their success, the Triangle antifascists turned their attention to a Confederate Memorial Day rally event organized by Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County, or ACTBAC, on May 20, 2017.

Passmore, Luxton, and a friend named Jason Campbell joined the Alamance Regulators militia and ACTBAC to defend the Confederate monument in downtown Graham. With them were Becknell, the re-enactor and Three Percenter, and Hunter Smith, a thirty-year-old Denton resident who was also involved in the Civil War re-enactment scene.

A video posted by Ruptlya Berlin-based video news agency that is part of the Russia-slanted RT networkcaptures the tension as the two sides traded insults.

While leftists chanted, “Fuck your flag,” Passmore, Luxton, Becknell, Smith, and Campbell stood in a throng of right-wing activists waving Confederate, Gadsden, and Three Percenter flags. Passmore carried the Guilford Courthouse battle flag.

“We live in a country where the most successful demographic is Asian men,” Smith shouted. “White supremacy! The most successful demographic in this country is a minority.” Luxton, meanwhile, accused the leftists of harboring an Israeli intelligence agent agitating for war with Syria.

Campbell, Luxton, Smith, Becknell, and Beachythough not Passmoreshowed up three weeks later at a rally in Raleigh organized by ACT for America, a national group that promotes a defamatory view of Islam as a treacherous religion full of stealth jihadists. Zach Smiley of Davidson County also joined the ad hoc group.

Luxton wore a T-shirt that said, “Deus vult,” a battle cry of the Crusades. He carried a sign reading, “Invade the world, invite the world is not sustainable.” Later, on Facebook, he acknowledged the white nationalist group Identity Evropa as the inspiration for the sign.

Although ACT for America had publicly distanced itself from white nationalism, members of Identity Evropa filled out a significant portion of the relatively small event in Raleigh. Appealing to young white men on college campuses, Identity Evropa proclaims a “demand that we, people of European heritage, retain demographic supermajorities in our homelands.” Trading on anti-Semitic tropes, the organization’s website charges that a “globalist elite … has relentlessly pushed for open borders and mass immigration” in “an attempt to import a new people, who are seen as more politically malleable than Americansparticularly those of European descent.”

Orry Von Diez, at the time an Identity Evropa leader from Yadkin County, warned during a speech: “We will not stand by while our women are draped in scarves, while our children are mutilated, and while our men are emasculated before our very people.”

Luxton and Campbell chatted idly with von Diez and other Identity Evropa members. One admired Campbell’s whiteboard, which read, “Free helicopter rides for commies.” The helicopter ride meme, which entered far-right circles in 2016, is a reference to a practice by the Chilean and Argentine military dictatorships in the 1970s of executing left-wing activists by dropping them from helicopters into the ocean.

Campbell acknowledges that the meme was “extreme,” but says, “Just because I held up a sign, I’m never going to act on it.”

Von Diez deleted his Facebook page after the Unite the Right rally and has since dropped off the radar, Campbell says, but a Google Hangouts video conversationmade public as part of a leak of the server used by the group Anti-Communist Action, or Anticom, that was publicly archived by the nonprofit news organization Unicorn Riotoffers a window into his worldview. (Anticom announced plans for a rally in Charlotte as a sequel to Unite the Right, but then canceled after celebrity white nationalist Richard Spencer withdrew.)

In the video, an unidentified member asks, “Do you want to bring up the group specifically that was disproportionately present in the formation of early communism?”

Von Diez, sitting at a desk surrounded by maps and stacks of old books, responds, “That’s an easy one, considering that Marx himself was a Jew. I have no qualms with calling them out.”

He turns for a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious anti-Semitic forgery frequently cited by neo-Nazis that purports to expose a Jewish plot for world domination. “In fact,” von Diez says, “I have this always with me.”

Later, as the group discusses the liability of James A. Fields Jr.’s alleged deadly car-ramming attack in Charlottesville, von Diez opines, “The only way to control the hysterics is to control the means of producing the hysterics, and that is through the media sensationalism that is put out into the direct palms of every individual.”

Another Anticom leader quips, “So what you’re saying is, ‘We should hang the lügenpresse.” The German word, which translates as “lying press,” was widely used in Nazi Germany.

Von Diez responds lightheartedly with a phrase that echoes Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich propagandist: “Our patience has run out.”

Prior to the Unite the Right rally in August, Passmore moved from Browns Summit to rural Stokes County. He says it was best to leave Guilford County to avoid being “LaVoy-ed,” referring to LaVoy Finicum, a militia activist who was fatally shot by an Oregon State Patrol officer at a roadblock during the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff in January 2016. Passmore stopped promoting the Guilford County Militia. After moving, he joined the Stokes County Militia.

Darrell Calloway, the commander of the Stokes County Militia, says he counseled Passmore against going to Charlottesville, even though he appreciated that many militias went with the noble intention of protecting people and property.

“They didn’t have a dog in the fight,” Calloway says. “But we thought it could be turned against them. And it turned out that it was.”

Remnants of the Guilford County Militia and others who had also participated in North Carolina “anti-sharia” and pro-Confederate rallies traveled to Charlottesville as a tactical unit. Equipped with wooden shields bearing “NC” lettering, helmets, goggles, and sticks, they held Emancipation Park side by side with similarly outfitted squads from the white nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party, League of the South, and Vanguard America groups.

Hunter Smith painted the number “14” on his shield, in reference to the “fourteen words,” a white nationalist slogan: “We must secure the existence for our people, and a future for white children.”

The NC Shield Guard also included Luxton, Campbell, Becknell, and Smiley, along with Clyde Bone, a Gaston County carpenter and war veteran, and his cousin Nikita Bone, a Davidson County resident with an interest in fascist philosophy.

The video shows the group holding up their shields to create a battlement at the southeast entrance to Emancipation Park, as water bottles and other projectiles flew back and forth. But they can also be seen pushing into the crowd of counterprotesters in the street in a provocative offensive.

Campbell says he went to Charlottesville not because he’s a racisthe calls that notion “laughable” and expresses sympathy for Black Lives Matterbut to defend the statue of General Robert E. Lee, whom he considers an “American hero, not a pillar of slavery. He believed in states’ rights, as everyone should.” (Lee, despite the revisionism of the Lost Cause mythology, was a slave owner; he, of course, also led an army dedicated to protecting white people’s right to own other human beings in a war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives.)

Rather than focusing on race, he says what matters to him is a federal government he considers oppressive. In his view, Governor Cooper is a tyrant, and U.S. Representative Mark Walker, a staunch conservative, is too weak-kneed when it comes to Syrian refugees.

“You do realize the founding fathers would be done shooting by now,” he saysin other words, if Washington, Jefferson, and Madison found the federal government as it is now, they would have overthrown it.

But he justifies his friendship with Luxton, a self-described national socialist, in terms of personal loyalty.

“I like Manuel,” Campbell says. “He’s a very nice guy. And he’s very smart. There’s a lot we disagree on. A lot of his political affiliations I don’t agree with. I’ve had long conversations and disagreements with him. I know if there’s ever a situation, I could call him and he would be there to help me.”

To put an exclamation point on their disagreements, Campbell adds, “The man believes the earth is flat. Come on now!”

Although Passmore didn’t go to Charlottesville, a week afterward he posted a photo of himself on Facebook carrying the Guilford Courthouse battle flag. In that time, antiracist demonstrators had torn down the Confederate monument in Durham and Bull City residents had staged a spontaneous antiracist street party in reaction to a threatened Klan rally.

In that post, Passmore boasted that he had harassed “local Antifa commies” in Winston-Salem on August 18. In the comment thread, he posted a meme that said, “Hospitalize your local Antifa scumbag.” Underneath it: “You will not replace us.” That slogan and a viler variant, “Jews will not replace us,” were chanted at the Unite the Right rally. The same image cropped up in fliers posted to telephone poles in Durham and Chapel Hill around the same time.

Passmore says his intended meaning was, “You will not replace us with socialism,” though he acknowledges that racist groups are typically referring to Jews when they say it.

After the Unite the Right rally, Luxton’s social media posts increasingly took a turn toward violence and extremism. One cover photo celebrated the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville with an image of a Dodge Challenger, the car allegedly driven by Fields. Another post depicts a grotesque caricature of a supposed Jewish man rubbing his hands together. A meme features a photo of an Orthodox Jewish man in miniature on a pizza peel being slid into a clay oven, with the words, “Come home, chosen man.”

In early March, Luxton updated his Facebook profile with a photograph of Luca Traini, an Italian fascist who went on a shooting rampage on February 3 in Macerata, a small town in central Italy, wounding six migrants of African origin. Luxton also shared a meme on Gab, a social media network favored by white nationalists, that appropriates an image of Al Pacino spraying machine-gun fire from the movie Scarface, along with the text, “Fucking kikes!”

Reached for comment, Luxton ignored a set of detailed questions, though he did reply: “I don’t remember the Scarface meme, but it sounds funny.”

Since the Unite the Right rally, the far-right activists connected to Passmore have for the most part managed to minimize or conceal their white nationalist leanings and associations enough to not raise the ire of the larger patriot militia and Second Amendment advocacy communities. Their relative discretion, coupled with a lack of discernment among many patriot militia activists, allowed Passmore and Campbell to ingratiate themselves with a South Carolina Black Lives Matter activist named Andre Gregory in April. The encounter between Gregory and the two far-right activists potentially jeopardized the BLM activist while also escalating risks to Gregory’s associates in the antiracist militia Redneck Revolt.

Gregory, the leader of Black Lives Matter in Gaffney, had forged an unlikely relationship with American Pit Vipers, a militia active in western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina that fielded armed personnel during Unite the Right but issued a statement beforehand rejecting white nationalism and pledging to protect public safety. After the Unite the Right rally, American Pit Vipers founder Chance Allen continued to build relationships with groups and individuals on the opposite side of the political ledger, including Gregory.

African-American community leaders and far-right activists from a range of organizations took part in a series of conversations in South Carolina in late August, motivated by a desire to avoid a repeat of the bloodshed in Charlottesville, with particular concern surrounding debate about the future of a Confederate monument in Greenville.

“I was the only BLM member out there, and they had the [Confederate] flaggers, and they were doing their thing,” Gregory recalls. “I stood toe to toe with the flaggers by myself. And one of [Allen’s] members seen it, and reached out to me. And once us and the flaggers, we made common ground, we put our personal issues aside. We actually went and sat down and had a beer, had lunch, and we conversated like some adults instead of like assholes.”

In October, the two groups hosted a “Changing the Narrative Unity Rally” in Gaffney that drew representatives of the South Carolina Secessionist Party, the SC Light Foot Militia, antifascist groups, and a local mentoring organization. During that rally, Gregory accepted an invitation from the Secessionist Party to co-host a press conference to protest Greenville police chief Ken Miller. They had separate grievances: The Secessionist Party was unhappy with the police department’s enforcement of a local ordinance prohibiting them from publicly displaying the Confederate flag. Gregory, meanwhile, says that during a rally calling for the removal of the Confederate monument in Greenville, Miller told him, “Go back where you came from,” which Gregory took to mean Africa. (Miller, who previously served as chief of police in Greensboro from 2010–14, did not directly respond to these claims in a statement.)

Gregory declines to say anything negative about the Secessionist Party or its veneration for the Confederate flag. He and Allen both emphasize the importance of looking beyond labels and getting to know people as individuals, suggesting the Confederate flag is no different than a “Black Lives Matter” shirt or Three Percenter patch.

“I can’t knock them because if I pick up the phone and say I need them, they [are] there in support,” Gregory says. “Everybody wants to separate us. Why separate when the goal is to come together and stand against the government?”

(The Black Lives Matter Global Network noted in a statement that BLM of Gaffney is not affiliated with the network and does not “have the authority to speak on behalf of the network or the work our activists are doing globally.”)

Allen has made it his mission to broaden the patriot militia movement. To that end, he brought Gregory and two members of Redneck Revolt to an April 14 Second Amendment rally in Raleigh that was dominated by militia activists and Three Percenters.

“Our welcome mat walking in was kind of tense for the first few minutes,” Allen recalls.

The next weekend, Allen brought Gregory and a small entourage of African-American activists from Gaffney to the Patriot Network Summit, a gathering outside of Winston-Salem that drew militia activists from as far away as New York, Illinois, and Georgia.

The two Redneck Revolt members, notably, were not part of the entourage. As early as late January, Passmore had been monitoring social media to guard against the possibility of Redneck Revolt attending the gathering, because the group has a reputation for trying to shift militia organizations to an antiracist or leftist stance.

Gregory’s reception at the summit was not altogether hospitable. Video that Gregory posted on Facebook shows two individuals, who identified themselves as “JW” from the Illinois State Militia and “Renee,” hectoring him about his message and asking how he could claim to have unity with the patriot movement.

Gregory says the discussion was starting to draw a crowd and distracting attention from one of the event’s official speakers. Gregory was flanked by a security detail, and they hustled him away so he could put on a bulletproof vest. While Gregory was away, a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat approached Gregory’s friend, mistaking him for the Black Lives Matter leader.

That man, Jovanni Valle of Brooklyn, came to some renown in July 2017 after his face was slashed in a Lower Manhattan bar by a man who took offense to his pro-Trump hat. Valle identifies with the Proud Boys, a street-fighting outfit that is described by its founder as a “pro-Western fraternal organization.”

Valle struck up a conversation with Gregory’s friend and goaded him to get on stage and give a speech. The speech, which struck soothing notes of unity and the importance of reaching beyond divisions for the sake of children, went over well, but Gregory says he thought Valle’s encouragement was a “trick.” (Contacted for this story, Gregory’s friend asked that his name not be published.)

In an interview, Valle all but confirms Gregory’s suspicions of his motives.

“I told him to speak because he was being very loud,” Valle says. “If you’re going to speak to me, everyone may as well hear it.”

Valle adds that he was disappointed that Jason Kessler, who organized Unite the Right, wasn’t given a platform to speak at the militia gathering. “The guy they think is a white supremacist, they didn’t allow him to speak. The guy with BLM was allowed to speak. I was bothered by that.”

In Facebook comments, Campbell defended Gregory’s presence at the summit. But Campbell’s friendly posture toward Gregory is at odds with his participation in a comment thread shortly afterward calling attention to a photo of Gregory posing with members of Redneck Revolt.

“Notice the black guy in the photo,” a militia activist identified as Monk A. Lightfoot wrote. “He’s training with a communist militia the Redneck Revolt, so I was shocked and wondering why he was there with an armed guard. I guarantee no one did their homework on this guy.”

“Look at Redneck Revolt LOL,” Passmore chimed in. “Hardcore fighters. I wonder how many memes were made from this picture.”

Other alumni from the NC Shield Guard piled on. Luxton posted a meme mocking Dwayne Dixon, a Redneck Revolt member from Durham who was next to Gregory in the photo. Becknell fulminated, “Commie punk bitch!”

The aggression directed at Redneck Revolt raises concerns about the potential for violent confrontation in a state with no shortage of such episodes, including the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, when a coalition of Nazis and Klan members drove into a black housing project and opened fire on a group of antiracist organizers.

Told about Campbell’s participation in Unite the Right and his association with white nationalists, Gregory expressed surprise.

“I never heard of him being involved in racism at all,” Gregory said shortly after the summit. “That’s new to me. He reached out to me. We talked on the phone about an hour. He wanted me to come up and go shooting with him.”

A few weeks later, Gregory had reconsidered his opinion of Campbell: “I think he’s full of shit. Don’t say you want to bring unity, and the whole time you’re part of a white-supremacist group, and you hang with white supremacists.”

On a separate thread on the final day of the summit, Passmore also defended Gregory’s presence, arguing that he had paid the entry fee and should enjoy the same right as anyone else to express his views.

“I will fight tyranny in government with anyone by my side, and if we have differences after the tyrants are gone, then there is two ways to handle that: One is we fight later, or separate spaces and mind our own business,” Passmore wrote.

“Blacks and whites have different cultures, there’s no denying it,” Passmore explains in an interview. “I did mean it in a racial sense. Or a political sense. The cultures are not the same. If people want to live separately, they should be able to live separately.”

Asked how he could rationalize conducting firearms training with both a Black Lives Matter activist and white nationalists, Passmore doesn’t back down, mentioning Gregory, Luxton, and Smith as people he would be comfortable fighting alongside.

“One goal would be to work together as a tactical unit, so you don’t oppose each other,” Passmore says. “If things go down in the streets of Greensboro, those groups aren’t my enemy. The tyrannical government is my enemy.”

A version of this story originally appeared in Triad City Beat.