Boy, yesterday's Trump rally in Tampa sure was full of... surprises. Or something. The President thinks you need a photo ID to buy groceries, CNN reporter Jim Acosta was called a traitor, and a bunch of people showed up wearing T-shirts with the letter Q. No, they were not fans of the hit Broadway musical (we assume) but rather conspiracy theorists who believe the establishment is out to destroy Donald Trump.
— Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) July 31, 2018
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) August 1, 2018
People lining up for the Trump rally in Tampa today. A lot of the chan anons might treat Q-Anon like a LARP, but by all appearances there are plenty of people who take it seriously irl. pic.twitter.com/uys7kmnAs1
— Travis View (@travis_view) July 31, 2018
This Roseanne-endorsed group began on 4Chan in October of 2017, when an anonymous user named Q began posting supposedly top-secret clues. Q is a reference to a top-level security clearance.
Here is how a pro-QAnon YouTube video explains the events of the world: every president before Trump was a criminal, and they're all part of a conspiracy with the global business elites, the deep state, and pedophile rings. "If a criminal became the President, imagine what they could achieve!" the narrator in the video implores. Imagine indeed.
People like to call Qanon "Pizzagate on steroids," but it's really both emotionally and socioeconomically Pizzagate on bath salts.
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) July 31, 2018
It is stunning to me how many ppl in this #TRUMPTAMPA crowd have QAnon signs or t-shirts. That is not a healthy sign for GOP or for America.
— Adam Smith (@adamsmithtimes) July 31, 2018
Will Sommer in The Daily Beast writes "In an effort to break this cabal’s grip, according to Q, the military convinced Trump to run for president. Now Trump and his allies in the military are poised to arrest all these wrongdoers, shipping many of them off to Guantanamo Bay." QAnon believers call the forthcoming purge "The Storm," and claim Trump referenced it when he cryptically alluded to 'the calm before the storm' while posing for photos with military brass in October.
QAnon members also believe Trump pretended to collude with Russia so that Robert Mueller would be appointed special counsel and expose those evil Democrats for all their wrongdoings. Meanwhile, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros are planning a coordinated comeback, while John McCain and Huma Abedin secretly wear ankle tracking bracelets.
Members of QAnon comb through Trump's tweets and videos looking for hidden clues that validate Q's posts. Partly because Q's predictions are hit or miss, younger alt-right members are more skeptical of Q. Baby Boomers more often make up members of QAnon.
So what are these conspiracy theorists up to when they are not making making gold headbands and watching Gran Torino? Well, one of them drove an armored truck to the Hoover Dam to demand the release of an OIG report, that was already released (he's been charged with terrorism). Others have been targeting the lawyer of Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti, and hunting for child sex camps in the Arizona desert. And, surprise surprise, it looks like the group is being embraced by some local GOP organizations.