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US Capitol riots: The coded tattoos and flags, and the far-right stories they tell – Stuff.co.nz01.15.21

As the chaos at the Capitol which left five people, including a police officer, dead unfolded in Washington D.C last week, rioters were pictured with a series of flags, signs and tattoos.

Some like the Confederate flag, or the red pro-Trump Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat were well known. But others were more obscure.

According to the New York Times, the array of symbols, slogans and images revealed an alternate political universe where violent extremists, outright racists and conspiracy theorists march side by side with evangelical Christians, suburban Trump supporters and young men.

Modern day white supremacy is illustrated through iconography using both modern and medieval symbols that unites various far-right groups and movements.

READ MORE:* QAnon reshaped Trump's party and radicalised believers, the Capitol siege may just be the start* FBI report warned of 'war' at Capitol, contradicting claims that there was no indication of looming violence* FBI warns of plans for US-wide armed protests ahead of Joe Biden inauguration

New Zealand has not escaped the co-opting of some of these symbols and themes, with the March 15 terrorist referencing some in his manifesto.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Jacob Anthony Chansley, with the painted face and wearing a horned, fur hat, during the riots.

Jacob Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, was one of the most photographed participants in the Washington D.C protests.

In his bizarre fur robes and horned hat, Chansley exposed a midriff tattooed with Viking symbols and Thor's Hammer.

According to the National Geographic, Chansleys tattoos are ancient Scandinavian symbols revived and twisted by 19th-century European nationalists and 20th-century Nazis.

There is no doubt that these symbols have also been co-opted by a growing far-right movement, Tom Birkett, a lecturer in Old English at Irelands University College Cork told The Conversation.

A tattoo on his shoulder seems to be a version of the Sonnenrad, or sun-wheel, Birkett said.

This is a symbol listed by the Anti-Defamation League as one of a number of ancient European symbols appropriated by the Nazis in their attempt to invent an idealised Aryan or Norse heritage.

Also writing in The Conversation, Helen Young, a lecturer at Deakin University in Australia, said modern extremists misinterpret and appropriate medieval culture to suit their own purposes.

They add new modern meanings to historical images and ideas and put them in new contexts," she said. Medievalist symbols like those displayed at the Capitol have been linked to white European identities for centuries.

Their use by violent extremists means that this connection can not be denied, ignored, or thought of as a neutral choice. We must deliberately, actively, and explicitly reject hateful meanings and the violence that goes with them in all aspects of our medievalist modern world.

Ted S. Warren/AP

A person dressed as Lady Liberty wears a shirt with the letter Q, referring to QAnon at the protest.

Chansley is reportedly linked with QAnon a discredited far-right conspiracy theory that a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic paedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against US president Donald Trump.

Several others at the riot wore references to the theory.

John Minchillo/AP

Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol. The yellow Gadsden flag is visible on the right.

Also present at the Capitol violence were right-wing and often anti-government militias.

Out in force were right-wing militias like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, whose symbol, the Roman numeral III, could be seen on patches and flags, the New York Times said.

USA Today said these groups have shown up to counter protests against police brutality, often claiming they were protecting private property from vandals and looters.

Others signalled their beliefs by waving the Gadsden flag, a yellow banner dating to the American Revolution with a rattlesnake and the phrase Dont Tread on Me, theTimes reported.

More generally recognisable was the Confederate flag, which was carried into the Capitol by one man. The flag is a symbol of the enslavement and ill-treatment of African-Americans, as was the noose and gallows erected by Trump supporters.

Evelyn Hockstein/WASHINGTON POST

Rioters with green and white Kekistan flags at the Capitol.

As well as the MAGA hats, USA and Trump flags of Trump supporters, you may have spotted green-and-white flags of Kekistan, a fictional country that is home to the deity Kek.

This satirical meme is a way to troll liberals and self-righteous conservatives, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. He is a god of chaos and darkness, with the head of a frog, the source of their mimetic magic, to whom the alt-right and Donald Trump owe their success.

The flag is partly derived from the Nazi flag, a provocative joke in alt-right circles, the Times said.

Imagery of Pepe the Frog was also seen. Linked to the white nationalism movement, the cartoon frog has become associated with online anti-Semitism.

Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post

The scene on January 6 outside the Capitol as Trump fans and others marched.

A group of Proud Boys attended the protest in orange hats. The Proud Boys is a far-right, male-only political group that promotes political violence in the United States and Canada.

Some have adopted the OK hand gesture as their own, seeing it as mimicking the letters W and P,' for white power, the Times reported.

Already reeling from the violent siege at a sacred political site for Americans, the country is now preparing for further armed protests in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on January 21.

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US Capitol riots: The coded tattoos and flags, and the far-right stories they tell - Stuff.co.nz

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