Facebook has removed a livestream by far-right activist Rowan Croft, aka, Grand Torino, after he called for the execution of Irish leaders. In the stream Croft, a QAnon proponent, said people must form a militia in order to “remove” elected officials from office. And once this has been done, the militia should put them on trial and should then be “hung by the neck”.
A popular figure in Irish far-right circles, Croft has previously called for the execution of “traitors” such as journalists.
Livestreaming conspiracy theories
Croft regularly livestreams to his supporters via his Facebook page. During the livestream on Thursday 27 May, a visibly irate Croft claimed that so-called elites engineered the pandemic in order to institute a worldwide police state. As part of this process he told viewers that world leaders will artificially create a food shortage, saying “there’s going to be desperate straits for food” in the coming year.
He also attacked the idea of children receiving vaccinations against COVID-19, declaring that this was also part of the conspiracy. The far-right figurehead argued this meant “We are now coming to the culmination point of a thousand-year plan”. And this plan involves an attempt by elites to “destroy the human spirit”.
Croft encouraged his supporters to resist the planned vaccination of children, telling them “What better way to meet your creator than in honour and in truth”. And he advocated attacking vaccination centres to disrupt the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines.
“Hung by the neck”
But Croft also suggested that the death penalty should be reintroduced for leaders in favour of vaccinating children. He said he’s “no qualm” in reintroducing it and that once leaders have been put on trial they should be “hung by the neck”. Going on, he angrily declared they “deserve nothing but the death penalty. Nothing less. Nothing more”. Members of the Defence Forces, he said, would also take part in the executions:
I’ll tell you, there’s soldiers in the Defence Forces that we will set up a firing squad, you will go through a jury through your peers of 12 men and you will be found guilty because there’s so much evidence out there. Don’t be abhorred by what I’m saying to you. What is the alternative?
In order to achieve this he suggested that people form their own militias in order to “remove” leaders from their positions. And, after praising alt-right website Gript, he declared “when the militia is formed we will drag power out by the scruff of the neck”.
This isn’t the first time the former British solider has suggested that enemies of his should be killed. In 2018 Croft described Irish Times journalist Fintan O’Toole as “a globalist shill and a TRAITOR”. Quoting well-known QAnon phrases in the tweet, he said O’Toole would “be given a complimentary helicopter ride come the Storm”. The reference to a helicopter ride is a phrase common amongst far-right extremists. It harks back to the tactics of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet whose military threw perceived enemies from helicopters.
Croft’s mention of the “storm” is part of the QAnon conspiracy theory which he was a populariser of in Ireland. According to QAnon believers, the “storm” was the codeword for the moment when Donald Trump’s administration would arrest high-ranking US politicians, members of the global elite, and other key players in order to put them on trial.
During the livestream Croft also took aim at Sinn Féin, accusing the party of being in the pay of “big pharma” and of “tak[ing] the Shekels”. He criticised People Before Profit (PBP) as well, declaring that the socialist party are “fucking communists. Outright communists”.
Responding to the comments the West Cork representative for PBP said they were “deeply troubled” by the livestream. But despite this, “intimidation will not stop me or anyone in PBP from campaigning to challenge this hateful rhetoric from him and those who associate with him becoming prevalent in our communities”.
Facebook has since removed the video from the website.
A spokesperson for the company told The Beacon “It’s against our rules to call for violence and spread harmful misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines on our platforms”. Facebook is also “looking into people and Groups that are repeatedly posting misinformation” about COVID-19. And it will “continue to remove people and Groups that are found to be breaking our rules”.
Activists and groups have criticised Facebook in recent months, arguing that the social media giant isn’t doing enough to tackle hate speech and misinformation on its platform. In December the company announced an update to its policies around misinformation.
Croft’s Facebook page, Grand Torino, is still available however, including previous livestreams of his. In one stream he broadcast on 24 May he declared that the Indian variant of COVID-19 “is a lie”. He also insisted that Joe Biden stole the US presidential elections from Donald Trump.
The Beacon contacted the Garda Press Office for comment but has yet to receive a response.
A military presence?
Last year far-right activists shared online a planning document which detailed potential tactics to increase their presence in Irish society. One of the proposals made in the document was that the far right should “use garda contacts and military contacts and civil service contacts strategically”.
In October last year journalists revealed a serving member of the Irish Defence Forces had links to far-right groups. The group, Na Ridirí (The Knights), encouraged members to join the military or police in order to receive combat and weapons training. In footage posted by Na Ridirí online one its members could be seen wearing a t-shirt with the Sonnenrad logo. As noted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the logo is frequently used by and associated with the far right and neo-Nazis.
Featured image via Screenshot