On Jan. 6, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol chanting a chilling refrain: “Hang Mike Pence!” Inside the Capitol, little did the then-vice president or the lawmakers attempting to certify the Electoral College votes of the 2020 presidential election know that the apparatus for doing just that had been erected on the Capitol grounds.
The Capitol insurrection had been months in the making, with so-called “Stop the Steal” protests organized by far-right political operatives in state capitals and elsewhere, including six such protests in Washington, D.C., over the course of three months. Instrumental in the incitement to violence was a Dec. 19 tweet by then-President Donald Trump summoning his most ardent fans to Washington to assure his certification as winner of an election he had lost.
Investigative work by Advance Democracy Inc., a nonprofit research group, shows that the very day that Trump issued the tweet calling his supporters to the nation’s capital for a Jan. 6 protest, denizens of an anonymous web board called TheDonald.win got busy plotting their contribution to what Trump promised would be a “wild” protest on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. What could be more wild than having an apparatus of execution on the premises, fully functional and at the ready?
Within hours of Trump’s Dec. 19 post, a plan was in the works among those planning a Jan. 6 trip to Washington, D.C., at the president’s behest.
A participant in the discussion going by the handle CaptainChrisPBacon posted an historical photo of a gallows erected near the Capitol in 1865 (ironically for the hanging of a Confederate war criminal) with a headline asking, “Who Is Bringing The Gallows On January 6th, 2021? At This Wild MAGA Get Together That Is Happening? Not The First Time Gallows Were Used In Washington D.C.”
That post by CaptainChrisPBacon elicited a great deal of enthusiasm from some of TheDonald’s users, as shown in this response in the comments section from a user appropriating the name of a famous movie actor in their handle. MattDamon420 replied, “It would be pretty epic if people got together to make a small set of gallows outside SCOTUS or the Capitol.”
Also posting in a similar vein on TheDonald that day was user sunlessmage743, who spurred discussion on the practical aspects of building such a gallows.
“Could be built very quickly with the right plan and the right people bringing pre cut materials to the site!” they posted.
“Anybody got a blueprint for a standing gallows like that?” they asked.
This prompted quite the discussion about how to, ahem, execute the plan—including whether 8-foot-high upright beams would suffice for the purpose of killing a victim. “OMG, this is so 1776!” quipped user rcstl. (Participants in the insurrection and in the mob outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 had been primed by such propagandists as Steve Bannon and Ali Alexander to see their attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election as an act in concert with those who ignited the American Revolutionary War.)
User DJT2020 suggested that a guillotine should also be on hand “for effect.”
The notion of a gallows on the Capitol grounds the day of the Jan. 6 election certification process in Congress captivated users of TheDonald for days to come. For instance, on Dec. 22, user wartooth6 posted this meme, which appropriates the branding of Home Depot, where, according to several users, the materials for building the gallows could be easily found.
User webthing was quick to offer their carpentry skills. Within three minutes of DJT2020’s post, webthing volunteered to build it.
On Dec. 29, user Rogerdoger, referencing Trump’s promise of a “wild” event, piped up with his own potential contribution to the effort. “I’m thinking of bringing some rope. Any good suggestions? Is paracord any good. Oh, hey Republicans, just fyi, you’re the traitors we are going to be looking for…just fyi. You think you were worried about BLM and Antifa? It’s going to be wild.” The post also included a screenshot from Amazon showing a 500-foot spool of TOUGH-GRID brand paracord.
When another user pointed out that paracord, presumably to be used on a gallows, could wind up cutting off the head of the person being hanged, Rogerdoger replied, “Good point.”
After all, that could be messy.
But in a since-deleted comment, Rogerdoger seems to have reconsidered the combo hanging-and-decapitation possibility. “Cool,” they wrote, “so [the hanged] can’t thrash around so much while they’re dangling.”
Another Dec. 29 post, this one by TheDonald user eddieblasphamy, generated 171 comments: “To all the carpenter pedes: Get to DC early and build a gallows. The media reaction would be epic and glorious.”
The specter of a guillotine, however, remained alluring to some commenters, with user jc99ta adding, “Plus, it can be used for slicing watermelons between beheadings!”
Elsewhere on site, users fantasized about the politicians they’d like to kill, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Reps. Jerry Nadler, Adam Schiff, and Maxine Waters. Mitt Romney, who is Republican, was also included, presumably for his vote to impeach the former president.
You can find the whole cache of ADI’s archive of selected posts from TheDonald.win here.