When Salem, NJ's Fred C. Arena applied for a job at Philadelphia's Navy Yard, he underwent an FBI background check in which he falsely claimed that he was not a member of the Vanguard America, a white nationalist group that was part of the lethal far-right "Unite the Right" 2017 gathering in Charlottesville; whose members posed with the murderer James Alex Fields Jr for a photo hours before he killed Heather Heyer.
The activist group Unicorn Riot (previously) published leaked chat logs linking Arena to several online identities: McCormick H. Foley, John S. Mosby and Fritz Coon Heydrich. Under these pseudonyms, Arena boasted of plans to bring 15 "paramilitary" friends to Unite the Right, and vowed to fight with antifa activists and federal law-enforcement officers "til one of us are not moving." He had shared far-right/white supremacist memes, photos of himself with a cache of semiautomatic weapons, and claimed membership in the white nationalist Three Percenters militia group.
Membership in these groups and publication of violent memes are protected under the First Amendment, which safeguards the right to free expression and free association. However, lying to the FBI is a serious crime, especially in order to falsely obtain a security clearance.
The FBI arrested Arena last week and he had a brief hearing before a magistrate judge before he was jailed pending trial.
Jason Kessler, the man behind the 2017 rally, was hoping to rebrand the follow-up as a nonviolent demonstration for "white civil rights" after the first protest provoked a national conversation about the rise of hate groups in the United States.
Kessler scolded "Foley" for his taunts about neo-Nazis and fighting federal agents. "This is absolutely the wrong thing to be talking about on Facebook," Kessler said.
"Foley," however, remained undeterred, complaining that the other white supremacists in the group were "too [expletive] nice."
Navy Yard employee indicted for allegedly hiding ties to white supremacist group
[Jeremy Roebuck/Philadelphia Inquirer]
(Thanks, Kathy Padilla!)