Florida Local News, Politics, Sports & Business

He’s a Jan. 6 defendant, a racist livestreamer and a brand new Tampa Bay resident – Tampa Bay Occasions

The present has been streaming reside from a small rental dwelling close to Clearwater.

Anthime Gionet seems behind the microphone together with his signature Pit Viper glasses and the identical bleached hair that was on show when he livestreamed the Jan. 6, 2021, riot from contained in the U.S. Capitol.

Followers know him as Baked Alaska, a nickname referring to his dwelling state, and comply with alongside within the chat field as he shouts out every one by their usernames.

The host and his viewers spend greater than six hours an evening collectively through livestream, time principally full of him taking part in video video games on a shared display screen. However he additionally leads hours-long discussions on politics and tradition, spreading an ideology the place white Christian males are underneath menace and ladies shouldn’t be leaders.

Gionet has made Pinellas County dwelling for the previous 12 months as he awaits sentencing for his function within the riot, his arrival overlapping with a stark rise in extremism in Florida over the previous few years.

Since shifting from Arizona, he has hosted a parade of antisemitic and racist livestreamers who used his rental home as a base to unfold worry and hate on the web, their followers responding with donations.

In December from Gionet’s lounge, three males laughed whereas hoisting a Nazi flag on digicam.

Throughout a present on Aug. 19, Gionet learn a follower’s remark: “What’s essential is a spot the place we don’t must say what girls and Jews inform us to.”

He seemed on the digicam.

“Precisely, yeah!”

Gionet not too long ago introduced he’s right here to remain. On Monday he moved right into a home he purchased “within the Tampa space.” However he has been cautious to not disclose too many particulars since his rental had rapidly grow to be a goal of harassment by sleuths who tracked his tackle.

Radicalizing followers

Anthime Gionet, known online as Baked Alaska, hosts his livestream show on Sept. 15.
Anthime Gionet, recognized on-line as Baked Alaska, hosts his livestream present on Sept. 15. [ Cozy.tv ]

Gionet, 34, has been a gradual determine within the Trump period, outlasting different white nationalists who attained wider identify recognition however pale from view. He was one of many few alt-right celebrities on the 2017 Unite the Proper rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, who went on to play a visual function within the Capitol breach.

He now aligns with the America First motion, an alt-right spinoff whose 24-year-old founder Nick Fuentes paints immigration as a menace to conventional values and rejects the Republican occasion for being too reasonable.

Fuentes, of Chicago, has hosted 4 conferences in Florida since early 2020 which have drawn political figures and white supremacists like failed congressional candidate Laura Loomer and former U.S. Rep. Steve King.

Whereas Gionet doesn’t have the identical attain, he performs a big supporting function by radicalizing followers together with his vigorous, joking supply, mentioned Jared Holt, an skilled on hate and extremism within the U.S. and senior analysis supervisor for Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

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“These items doesn’t exist purely on-line,” Holt mentioned. “These antics find yourself having precise penalties in the true world, whether or not it’s doing one thing ridiculous for these streamers or saying one thing to please his viewers.”

It’s not clear why Gionet moved to Tampa Bay. However he did in order Florida has seen a major improve in hate-related incidents prior to now two years, “pushed, partially, by widespread disinformation and conspiracy theories which have animated extremists and fueled antisemitism,” in accordance with a report published this month by the Anti-Defamation League.

The variety of antisemitic incidents like harassment and vandalism rose 50% in 2021 over the earlier 12 months in Florida, the report mentioned.

This actuality has prompted synagogues to safe their buildings in methods they’ve by no means needed to earlier than, mentioned Matthew Berger, rabbi at Temple Ahavat Shalom in Palm Harbor.

“Again and again it’s proven that hateful rhetoric and phrases can result in violence and that’s actually the hazard that comes from this,” Berger mentioned.

Earlier than killing 11 individuals on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg in 2018, the shooter posted antisemitic feedback on a far-right web site.

Gionet didn’t reply to a be aware left at his door or to an electronic mail despatched to his lawyer searching for remark. He did share the be aware and telephone quantity on a social media feed and inspired followers to harass the reporter searching for remark.

‘Our boy Donald J. Trump’

Gionet might be sentenced on Jan. 12 for his function within the Capitol riot after pleading responsible in July to 1 misdemeanor depend of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol constructing. It carries a most sentence of six months in jail.

Contained in the constructing that day, Gionet turned the digicam to his face as he picked up a telephone in an workplace and pretended to talk to the U.S. Senate.

“Sure we have now a fraudulent election I want to report,” he mentioned. “Yeah, we have to get our boy Donald J. Trump into workplace.”

Anthime Gionet livestreams from inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Anthime Gionet livestreams from contained in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. [ Archive.org ]

Through the hour livestream, followers commented within the chat field and a few donated cash.

Streaming is revenue for white nationalist influencers like Gionet. Throughout his every day present, a bar on the backside of the display screen counts real-time donations followers make towards his $2,000 weekly objective.

Since he’s been banned from most mainstream websites like YouTube, Twitter, and GoFundMe, Gionet has used the streaming platform launched by Fuentes and a fundraising platform created by one other white nationalist.

“This monetized propaganda represents a completely new approach to become profitable,” mentioned Megan Squire, deputy director for knowledge analytics at Southern Poverty Regulation Heart. “Prior to now, menace actors would take donations to fund the creation of propaganda. Right here, they’re able to become profitable from the propaganda itself.”

Prosecutors used Gionet’s video to construct their case towards him, quoting his phrases and actions with correlating time stamps within the Division of Justice’s affidavit.

Gionet can also be scheduled for an additional trial, this one set for Oct. 21 in Scottsdale, Arizona. He faces two misdemeanor costs alleging he defaced a Glad Hanukkah signal on the state Capitol final November, in accordance with courtroom information. An archived video reveals Gionet livestreaming whereas he pulled down the signal from a menorah show and mentioned: “No extra Glad Hanukkah. Solely Merry Christmas. This can be a shame.”

Anthime Gionet is shown in a mugshot following his arrest in Scottsdale, Arizona, after pepper spraying a bar employee in December 2020.
Anthime Gionet is proven in a mugshot following his arrest in Scottsdale, Arizona, after pepper spraying a bar worker in December 2020. [ Scottsdale Police Department ]

In an unrelated case in Scottsdale, Gionet was sentenced in January to 30 days in an Arizona jail after being convicted of misdemeanor assault, disorderly conduct and felony trespass when he pepper-sprayed a bouncer who instructed him to depart a bar whereas livestreaming. The sentence has been stayed till an attraction is heard.

Pepper spray is described as “content material spray” within the on-line group of white nationalist livestreaming, the place antics usually escalate as donations pour in real-time.

On July 29, white nationalist livestreamer Shawn Tyler McCreless, 30, pepper sprayed three individuals exterior The Fortress, a dance membership in Ybor Metropolis, after a person knocked his digicam out of his hand, video reveals.

The Tampa Police Division had no document of the incident.

On the time, McCreless, of Alabama, had been dwelling with Gionet within the rental close to Clearwater. When Gionet introduced on his livestream that he purchased a home within the Tampa space, he said McCreless might be dwelling there with him too.

McCreless was one of many males who held up the Nazi flag for Gionet’s livestream final 12 months. One other was Zvonimir Joseph Jurlina, 32, a fellow Jan. 6 defendant who was arrested in June, accused of destroying property in the course of the riot whereas livestreaming.

“The larger concern for Floridians is to step again and say, ‘Why are we attracting this one that has worn out his welcome nearly in 49 different states?’” Southern Poverty Regulation Heart spokesperson Michael Edison Hayden mentioned of Gionet.

“Figures like this really feel they’re secure in Florida, and I feel that has loads to do with the form of tradition courted by politicians there.”

Doubling down on extremism

Gionet grew up in Anchorage, the son of Christian missionaries. After school, he started creating rap movies underneath the identify Baked Alaska.

His willingness to do social media stunts like pouring a gallon of milk on his face received him a job in 2015 at Buzzfeed, the place Gionet labored on the outlet’s social media accounts, in accordance with a 2021 New York Occasions column that former Buzzfeed editor in chief Ben Smith wrote about Gionet’s function within the riot.

Gionet left Buzzfeed in 2016 to work for far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. His social media following grew, increasing to almost 200,000 on Twitter earlier than he was banned, the place he shared movies of individuals saying “Hitler did nothing fallacious,” Gizmodo reported.

Gionet was scheduled to be a speaker on the Unite the Proper rally in August 2017, the place he livestreamed whereas shouting “You’ll not exchange us” throughout that evening’s notorious torch-lit march. The following day, a white supremacist drove his automotive right into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

After the 2019 bloodbath in Christchurch, New Zealand, the place a white supremacist killed 51 individuals at two mosques, Gionet recorded a video repenting for his rhetoric. He mentioned “this taking pictures was extremely influenced by web on-line meme tradition” and mentioned “I remorse ever contributing something to that tradition.”

“An enormous purpose I left the alt-right is as a result of these jokes began to distort my actuality and I purchased into quite a lot of dangerous concepts that I had no concept I used to be even considering myself,” Gionet mentioned. “In a bizarre, loopy approach, I used to be brainwashed, I used to be a part of a cult, and I simply need to cease individuals from making the identical errors earlier than it’s too late.”

However he solely leaned deeper into extremism, usually livestreaming in public to seize reactions whereas his speaker performed a racial slur on repeat.

He continued livestreaming when he moved to Pinellas County round July 2021, and it didn’t go unnoticed.

Final 12 months, he was kicked out of the Conservative Grounds espresso store in Largo whereas filming. He responded by sharing the store’s quantity and inspired his on-line followers to name and harass the shop.

Gionet additionally has been the sufferer of a minimum of 10 “swatting” calls, the place an individual studies a pretend crime to 911 to immediate a regulation enforcement response.

Throughout one on Nov. 22, an individual known as police falsely figuring out themselves as Gionet. The caller said he shot his girlfriend and was going to shoot himself, in accordance with a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Workplace report.

Anthime Gionet was briefly detained by Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies on Nov. 22 after an anonymous caller fraudulently reported a crime at his residence. So called swatting calls are intended to harass a target by prompting a law enforcement response to a location.
Anthime Gionet was briefly detained by Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies on Nov. 22 after an nameless caller fraudulently reported a criminal offense at his residence. So known as swatting calls are meant to harass a goal by prompting a regulation enforcement response to a location. [ Pinellas County Sherriff’s Office ]

Clearwater Police responded and surrounded the home. Sheriff’s deputies arrived with ballistic shields. Police detained Gionet and 4 others in the home, together with Jurlina, the guy Jan. 6 defendant, and white nationalist livestreamer Jared Noble.

A army tactical car and a helicopter arrived, the sheriff’s report mentioned. After looking out the home, regulation enforcement decided the incident was bogus.

In one other incident final 12 months, Gionet known as police when his garden service alerted him that somebody had thrown tin cans in entrance of his home.

Written on the cans have been messages: “F–k you Nazi” and “GO HOME.”

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