In what appears to be a desperate attempt to abdicate responsibility for the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, right-wing-leaning users of 4chan identified a Michigan teenager as the driver of a car that mowed through a crowd of counter-protesters.
Though the crowd appeared to be carrying a myriad of Black Lives Matter signs, these right-wing-leaning online communities have developed a theory that the violence was perpetrated by a left-wing antifascist. The theory has made its way to populate the top posts on Voat.
Using the license plate of the car and a series of Internet searches, users identified an owner of the car, and placed the blame on the man’s son, Joel. The evidence they claim supports this theory is available as compiled in this tweet from PEBBLES_GOMAD, who identifies himself as “INTJ. Man of the west.” etc.
Joel’s sister posted a concerned status on Facebook, asserting that Joel could not possibly be the driver, as they both were attending a wedding in Michigan as the Unite the Right rally was underway.
Posts from Joel’s Facebook account also denied his involvement. Even Mike Cernovich, conspiracy-booster extraordinaire, picked up on this, producing screenshots of the posts on his account. Presumably, if Joel were actually the suspect currently in custody, he would not have been able to make these posts himself.
As additional information came out and made this theory continually less plausible, users of Voat began to bicker and back off from the claim that Joel was the driver of the vehicle.
User gosso920 sums it up, saying simply, “4chan done goofed.”
It remains to be seen who is culpable for the driving the car into pedestrian counter-protesters. Ultimately, one would hope our president would condemn displays of white supremacy, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
Update: the suspect in custody has been identified as James Alex Fields, Jr, a 20-year-old registered as a Republican voter, from Maumee, Ohio.