The Department of Justice Friday charged Jonathan Owen Shroyer, host of Infowars’ “The War Room With Owen Shroyer,” with disorderly conduct and entering a restricted area for his actions on Jan. 6 during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Over the weekend, Shroyer began raising funds for his legal defense first on GoFundMe and then, when the crowdfunding platform removed the campaign from its site, via GiveSendGo, a Christian crowdfunding site.
Announcing the DOJ’s warrant on his show Friday night, Shroyer professed his innocence, claiming that he would turn himself in on Monday morning. He also wasted no time starting the GoFundMe campaign for himself, which was shut down by the platform on Saturday. By Sunday, Shroyer’s campaign was up and running on GiveSendGo.
As of Monday morning, Shroyer had raised over $160,000 on GiveSendGo.
Proclaiming to be the “#1 free Christian crowdfunding site,” GiveSendGo has become a safe haven for fundraising by right-wing extremists. In February, Right Wing Watch reported that members of the Proud Boys neo-fascist hate group facing federal charges for their roles on Jan. 6 began raising money on the platform. A data breach of the site in April showed that the hate group and its members raised more than $375,000 through at least 11 different campaigns on GiveSendGo, according to reporting by the Guardian.
It appears that Shroyer’s use of the platform goes against GiveSendGo’s own terms of service, which explicitly prohibits “items that promote hate, violence, racial intolerance, or the financial exploitation of a crime,” a prohibition that extremists have found to be loosely applied, if at all.
The Proud Boys are not the only extremists to have benefitted from the Christian-identified platform. After 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two protesters and wounded a third at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year, a GiveSendGo campaign launched by his supporters raised more than $585,000 for his “legal defense.” GiveSendGo defended hosting that campaign.
Right Wing Watch reached out to GiveSendGo about its hosting of Shroyer’s campaign. Right Wing Watch has yet to receive a response and will update this story should GiveSendGo respond.
Shroyer and his boss, radical conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, have repeatedly used Jones’ media platform to advance the false claim that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, smearing President Joe Biden as a usurper.
On the eve of the insurrection, Shroyer addressed a crowd at a so-called Stop the Steal rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington, where he claimed that the election was stolen from Trump and that the “crooked politicians that occupy our Capitol are in fear right now,” adding, “for too long now the people have feared the government. Well, in January 2021, that changes!” Emphasizing his message to the Trump loyalists assembled, he told the crowd, “we’re fightin’ mad.”
“Americans are ready to fight. We’re not exactly sure what that’s going to look like perhaps in a couple of weeks if we can’t stop this certification of the fraudulent election,” he said. “We are the new revolution!” Propagandists for the movement that hatched the insurrection often couch their claims in terms of the events in 1776 that led to the American Revolution.
The following day, Shroyer and Jones, whom Shroyer often follows to public events to gin up crowd enthusiasm, marched to the Capitol from the Ellipse, where then-President Trump had just told supporters to “fight like hell.” Shroyer and Jones arrived shortly before the Capitol was breached and entered restricted grounds, shouting into a bullhorn.
In its complaint against Shroyer, the DOJ claims Shroyer’s actions in Washington on Jan. 5 and 6 also violate a deferred prosecution agreement Shroyer agreed to after his arrest for disrupting House impeachment proceedings against then-President Trump back in December 2019. Shroyer agreed to complete 32 hours of community service—which he has yet to complete—and “not to utter loud, threatening, or abusive language, or to engage in any disorderly or disruptive conduct, at any place upon the United States Capitol Grounds or within any of the Capitol Buildings with intent to impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of any session of the Congress.” Encouraging others to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College votes may just fall under that order.
Of the more than 600 people charged by the DOJ in relation to the failed insurrection, Shroyer is one of a few people who did not enter the Capitol building and faces misdemeanors. Jones has yet to be charged in relation to his actions on Jan. 6.
As Trump’s Jan. 6 rally drew to a close, Shroyer could be heard leading a crowd of Trump supporters in a chant of “1776!” as they marched from the Ellipse to the Capitol. In an Infowars video flagged in the complaint, Shroyer told the crowd, “Today we march for the Capitol because on this historic January 6, 2021, we have to let our congressmen and -women know, and we have to let Mike Pence know, they stole the election, we know they stole it, and we aren’t going to accept it!”