Jeff Brain Invokes MLK To Insist His January 6 'Patriot Caravans' Were 'Peaceful'
Good afternoon! It’s way past time to get up!
AIRING OUT: Your Uprising correspondent went on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” last night to talk about the story on President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago meeting with Jeff Brain, founder of the social media site Clouthub, who helped organize “patriot caravans” of protesters who came to the U.S. Capitol when it was stormed on January 6.
Uprising subscribers got an exclusive early look at that piece, but the rest of you can now read it in full here. And now, we have finally heard from Brain about his role in the violent attack on the Capitol.
In the conversation with Hayes, I talked about the story and why I am committed to continue investigating what happened on January 6. You can watch that interview here!
Since the interview aired, a reader named Tara got in touch and told me they reached out to Brain on his LinkedIn to ask about the “patriot caravans.” Brain, who has not responded to my requests for comment, actually responded to the LinkedIn message. Way to go Tara!
In his answer, Brain insisted violent discussion was not allowed in the “patriot caravans” pages, which were featured on the main page of the site for the “Wild Protest” planned at the Capitol that day.
“A group on CloutHub was used by our some members to organize ride shares to Washington. We did not fund or organize any transportation to DC. Nor were we there. Plus we constantly emphasized that any one found discussing violence would be removed. Our platform doesn't allow incitement of violence or hate,” Brain said.
As noted in the original Uprising story, Brain personally participated in the main “Patriot Caravans” page, which had posts with violent overtones. While the page has since been deleted, archived content shows it included one member boasting of their marksmanship. Other state-specific “patriot caravans” pages on Clouthub featured participants discussing their combat experience and plans to bring equipment.
At the end of his response, Brain included a screengrab of a post from Clouthub’s Twitter account. That tweet seems to have been deleted, so it’s impossible to see the original context, The screengrab said, “Peaceful only… in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.- peaceful persuasion is the only acceptable approach for lasting positive change.”
Brain framed this as proof that his site does not advocate violence.
“Here is one of our posts emphasizing we only support peaceful efforts,” he wrote.
According to the source who provided The Uprising with the photo of Brain and Trump, the tech CEO was at the private club Trump owns in Florida to meet with potential funders for his site. Wall Street Journal has reported that Brain talked with Trump about the former president setting up a presence on Clouthub. Trump, who was banned from many major social media sites in the wake of January 6, shut down the personal blog his team had built for him to issue statements. According to both the New York Times and the Washington Post, Trump was frustrated by the site’s low traffic. Trump’s team did not respond to requests for comment about whether he is still considering a move to Clouthub.
NEWSSTAND: On May 25, the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, his family and their attorney, Ben Crump, visited the White House. That night, Crump sat down with your friendly neighborhood Uprising correspondent for an interview that was just published on Vanity Fair’s Hive site.
Crump is a fascinating figure. He openly discusses his strategies for winning fights in both the political and legal arenas while also being quite frank about his role as a leader in what increasingly seems to me like a new, modern civil rights movement. I looked at how Crump has become “ a new breed of Washington power player for this activist era” who has President Joe Biden’s ear and a friendship with Vice President Kamala Harris as he’s pushed for police reform legislation that bears Floyd’s name.
The story also gets into how Crump has faced criticism from some younger activists. Specifically, I talked to Ty Hobson-Powell and Seun Babalola, two organizers with the group Concerned Citizens, which helped lead protests in D.C. following Floyd’s death last year. I wanted to share some pieces of our conversation that didn’t fit into that Vanity Fair piece, since it’s an important dialogue to have.
While both Hobson-Powell and Babalola stressed that they don’t know Crump or have anything against him personally, they also explained that there is skepticism in activist circles about leaders who have seemed to gain money and prominence in proximity to Black death.
“It is perceived by a lot of people on the ground as quote unquote ‘ambulance chasing’ the same way that folks looked at and continue to look at Al Shaprton in the 90s and now,” Babalola said.
In the story, I examined how the disagreements between activists associated with this new movement has echoes of the sixties when Crump’s more radical activists debated ways forward with those who sought to work within the system including Crump’s “personal hero” Thurgood Marshall. As Babalola’s comment shows, the current debates also have a generational component with younger leaders frustrated with the lack of gains achieved in the decades since the sixties.
At the same time, even as they expressed skepticism, both Babalola and Hobson-Powell suggested taking multiple approaches has value for the movement.
“I don’t think that it will be one value set, one ideology, one approach, one modality that will deliver us on the kind of liberation and structural change that we’re looking for,” Hobson-Powell explained. “I think it’s going to take a multiplicity of approaches. It’s going to take people moving in the electoral politics space. It’s going to take grassroots organizing. It’s going to take litigation.”
For his part, Crump wants to be judged on the results he achieves — which have included landmark settlements for victims of police violence. And he clearly sees the police reform push as a piece of his legacy.
“I think I’m living my purpose that God has for me, to be a zealous advocate for equal justice under the law and unapologetic defender of Black life, and Black Liberty, and Black humanity,” Crump said.
FUN FACT: Many people know about the “fifth Beatle,” Pete Best, but did you know there was (briefly) a sixth Beatle?
Like Best, Jimmie Nicol was a drummer. On June 3, 1964, famed Beatles drummer Ringo Starr came down with tonsillitis as the band was getting ready to go on a world tour. Nicol was brought in to replace him and spent the next 13 days as a member of the band complete with a groupie encounter.
Starr apparently found the episode unsettling.
“It was very strange, them going off without me,” Starr later said of the experience. “They’d taken Jimmy Nicol and I thought they didn’t love me any more — all that stuff went through my head.”
After his stint in The Beatles, Nicol went on to play in a couple different bands before moving to Mexico and ultimately returning to England to start a home renovation business. According to Paul McCartney, Nicol was a key inspiration for the song “Getting Better” because, when asked by his temporary bandmates how he was doing during their time together, Nicol replied, “Getting better all the time. Nicol’s story also helped inspire the 1996 Tom Hanks movie “That Thing You Do.”
That’s all for today! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to The Uprising and tell your friends! And if you work in politics, please don’t forget to leave a (news) tip on your way out → firstname.lastname@example.org