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Chapter Ten

The COVID-19 Insurrection. Calls for Violence, Revolution, and Civil War


“REPRISE1776 - SPECIAL JIHAD JOE AMERICA HATES YOU UPDATE...Personal commentary...Joe Biden is a lily-livered, ill-mannered, weak minded failure on so many levels I don’t even know where to begin. He and his entire administration should resign in Mass and they should be tried, convicted of treason add sent to the Gallows as prescribed by us (sic) code.”

- Verne J. Finucane, member Unmask Our Children Movement, September 1, 2021. [205]

Chapter Ten

The COVID-19 Insurrection

Calls for Violence, Revolution, and Civil War

This quote from Verne J. Finucane of Vero Beach, Florida, a self-proclaimed “III% Patriot,” comes from his personal MeWe account. It represents not just a segment of the COVID denial mobilizations’ thirst for violence and murder but the layers of radicalization that members of these Facebook groups can traverse on their way to the far right.

In the Unmask Our Children Movement Facebook group, Finucane’s call to violence was cast, in nationalist form, in the language of America’s revolutionary past:

“MORNING NEWS UPDATE TUE 7/13/21…The lies have far surpassed any level of sanity and are far beyond disgusting. This crap cannot continue** **it must end now by any legal means necessary. ** See the Constitution and the Declaration of independence for appropriate measures. **Excerpt DOI**: That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, ***it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…[W]hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism,*** **it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security**”[206]

This post includes an appeal for readers to join Finucane’s MeWe group, Reprise 1776 Posse of Patriots.[207]

The use of the Declaration of Independence and the refrain “1776” have become commonplace means for far-rightists to frame their call for rebellion and revolution. For example, People’s Rights, a group whose activists, ideas, and materials can be found in the threads of COVID denial Facebook groups, has cited the Declaration of Independence to build its case for insurrection and secession in eastern Oregon.


In addition to being a self-proclaimed Three Percenter, Finucane posted photos on his personal Facebook page from at least one rally also featuring the Proud Boys.[208] Both Three Percenters and Proud Boys have been implicated in the January 6 nationalist insurrection in Washington. D.C.

Finucane and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

Finucane and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

On Mewe, Finucane posted a “Declaration of Restoration Public declared on the 27th day of August, 2021,” that espoused conspiracy theories, spread misinformation about immigrants, assailed Black Lives Matter and anti-fascists, and promoted the false idea that Donald Trump is president. It also called for,

“sheriffs and to such portions of the military as are still loyal Americans and still able and willing to perform their sworn duty of protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States to take whatever action may be necessary to dismantle and remove the Joe Biden, Kamala Harris—along with all of their supporters—from the position of President and Vice President of the United States.”[209]

Elsewhere on Facebook, Finucane simply declared that “A civil war is coming.”[210]

Such is the direction of far-right insurrection that some participants in COVID denial Facebook groups are trying to steer this mobilization.

Calls to arms and visions of encroaching civil war are frequent features of far-right politicking. Similar ideas can also be found in Facebook COVID denialism groups. For instance, a post in Illinois Citizens Against Government Overreach (2999 members) cited the Declaration of Independence and added, “Always Remember This is what the first Civil war was about Constitutional Separation Constitutional Civil Insurrection Constitutional Revolution It’s Time We The People Make America Great Again.” [211]

Others have referred to a potentially emerging civil war. Citing the idea that the Biden administration could implement vaccine requirements for interstate travel, a member of WISCONSIN Liberty, Freedom, Community, Rally & Action Page (11,761 members) declares, “This screams start of a civil war if I’ve ever seen it.”[212] A post in Open Ohio! (5,885 members) claims that the idea of vaccine passports represents “your papers showing you properly obey they (sic) government” and amounts to “tyranny in its most sinister and evil form,” declaring, “They go through with this, by God there will be civil war.”[213]

In Unmask our Children Kankakee County IL (1,191 members), an individual poses the question, “Where do you guy’s think this is all going to lead?” The self-answer:

“I’m not trying to be a negative Nancy but, I think we’re going to be looking at a civil war. First it’s the mask, next it will be the experimental vaccine they are pushing so hard. Now, they’re talking about putting ppl in camps. who I assume will be the unvaccinated.”[214]

A post in REOPEN NJ included a picture of COVID-19 statistics from the office of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and declared, “Oh boy they’re really pushing it…. Rally the troops! We have a Civil War coming!”[215]

In keeping with such language,  very real on-the-ground violence from this mobilization is found at COVID denial protests. This came into clear relief when the Grand Traverse County (Michigan) Prosecutor filed “assault or assault and battery” charges against two men in connection to an attack on a RecordEagle reporter covering a protest against mask and vaccine mandates in Garfield Township on August 26. The reporter said he had been punched in the face.[216]

The event was hosted by the COVID denial Facebook group Citizens Liberating Michigan (156 members). The group’s Administrator, Heather Ferry Cerone, was audio-recorded “challenging the reporter’s presence” at the event and “asking attendees to stand in front of him.” Despite later supporting “Constitution Day,” the Associated Press reported that the day of the event, Cerone called the 911 dispatcher to say that “a reporter was standing just outside a pavilion” where the event was occurring and “was not welcome.”[217]

Earlier in August, Cerone had opposed a Traverse County “diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging” resolution, referring to it as “the Marxist/Communist DEIB/Critical Race Theory resolution.”[218] In the common verbiage of antisemitism, Cerone has referred to a commissioner who allegedly supported diversity as a “paid Soros operative,” a reference to liberal Jewish philanthropist George Soros.[219]

Elsewhere participants in a “Let Them Breathe” rally disrupted a Poway (California) United School District meeting to the point that the meeting had to be adjourned. The school district’s chief communications officer stated that “Due to the ongoing disruption of the Sept. 9, 2021 Board of Education meeting and the concerns for the safety and well-being of staff and students attending the meeting, law enforcement recommended we adjourn and reschedule the meeting.”[220] The Administrator of the Let Them Breathe Facebook (18,600 members) group had taken credit for providing fliers and t-shirts to the group.[221]

Against the backdrop of such specifically Facebook group-driven incidents, COVID denial mobilizations, activists, and opponents of basic health measures have repeatedly been involved in violent incidents and threats of violence – a pattern that can only be amplified by the large scale presence of COVID denial activism in these online forums.

A Florida anti-mask activist was charged with aggravated child abuse after an alleged attack on a Fort Lauderdale High School student who criticized his recording “his latest anti-mask stunt,” NBC News reported. Dan Bauman, 50, reportedly “pushed the girl into a fence, grabbed her hand and twisted her arm ‘in an aggressive manner’” before a school resource officer and a security guard pulled him off her,” NBC said in a summary of an incident report.[222]

Victor Lee Tucker, Jr., 30, of Palmetto, Georgia, was charged with murder and aggravated assault after he allegedly “got into an argument with a cashier about his face mask” during checkout.[223] In Springfield, Missouri, anti-vaxxer “Christopher Key and his half-dozen followers,” who refer to themselves as the “vaccine police,” descended on a Walmart. In his approach to the store, Key live-streamed himself making claims about vaccines being like “Nazi Germany” and stating of pharmacists that “if they do not stand down immediately, then they could be executed. They can be hung in the state.”[224]

In Sutter Creek, California, a teacher was allegedly assaulted by a parent upset at his child having to wear a mask. Amador County Unified School District Superintendent Torie Gibson told a reporter that, “The teacher was bleeding…He had some lacerations on his face, some bruising on his face, and a pretty good knot on the back of his head.”[225]

As described by Security, in July 2020, the Retail Industry Leaders Association already “expressed alarm” about “instances of hostility and violence front-line employees are experiencing by a vocal minority of customers who are under the misguided impression that wearing a mask is a violation of their civil liberties.” That same month, McDonald’s survey of more than 4,000 employees found that “that 44% of respondents said they had been verbally or physically assaulted after confronting customers who weren’t wearing masks.”[226]


Nine: COVID Denial and Other Far-Right Groups


Eleven: Stop the Steal and Jan. 6th


[205] Finucane, Verne J. Mewe. September 1, 2021.

[206] Finucane, Verne J. Facebook. Posted in Unmask Our Children Movement (6647 members). July 13, 2021.

[207] Finucane, Verne J. Facebook. Posted in Unmask Our Children Movement (6647 members). July 13, 2021.

[208] Finucane, Verne J. Facebook. July 17, 2021.

[209] Finucane, Verne. Mewe. August 31, 2021. Finucane wrote, “The Declaration of Restoration Publicly declared on the 27th day of August, 2021… At every election, We the People elect new people hoping they will return to the guidance of the Constitution, but their promises are largely forgotten as soon as they take office, and they are quickly absorbed into a cabal-like body that has no thought whatever about serving the People….The People are abused and exploited, lawlessness in the streets is ignored or even encouraged, aliens are permitted to intrude and commit multiple crimes with impunity… We find ourselves in similar position as our original Founders; there is no way to right the intolerable wrongs perpetrated on the People other than to completely remove all involved in such violation and treason against the People and the world and to install new leaders who will defend and protect the Constitution and will serve the people accordingly… Unelected bureaucracies and corrupt media powers have bribed and threatened the members of the justice department to neglect their responsibility of protecting the Constitution, even going so far as to permit the absolute theft of the office of Presidency using multiple methods of voter fraud, vote stealing, and election law violation to effect their intent to destroy the Republic of the United States; the current occupant of the White House was never elected by the people but was simply placed in office following a deliberate corruption and theft of the 2020 election… The corrupt leaders at every level have allowed and encouraged insurrections among us, specifically groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter, who have been able to create riots, burn cities and murder citizens with impunity…We declare to the world that our duly, lawfully elected President is Donald J Trump, and we reject the destructive decisions, mandates, regulations, and other such actions on the part of the Biden administration and any bureaucratic offices, members of Congress and members of the Judicial Branch that have collaborated with, encouraged or simply ignored the ongoing destruction of the United States of America… We appeal to our elected sheriffs and to such portions of the military as are still loyal Americans and still able and willing to perform their sworn duty of protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States to take whatever action may be necessary to dismantle and remove the Joe Biden, Kamala Harris—along with all of their supporters—from the position of President and Vice President of the United States. This shall include but is not limited to corrupted judges, the compromised and corrupt CIA, FDA, FBI, IRS, NIH, Department of Education, and numerous other Departments, Offices and Bureaucratic groups that operate for their own benefit at the expense of the People. The Free People of the United States of America”.

[210] Finucane, Verne J. Facebook. August 3, 2021.

[211] Watters, Michael R. Posted in Illinois Citizens Against Government Overreach. August 15, 2021.

[212] Richter, Lyssa. Facebook. Posted in WISCONSIN Liberty, Freedom, Community, Rally & Action Page. August 13, 2021.

[213] Cline, Matt. Facebook. Posted in Open Ohio! August 7, 2021.

[214] Gomez, Sabrina. Facebook. Posted in Unmask our Children Kankakee County IL. August 10, 2021.

[215] Irwin, Ryan. Facebook. Posted in REOPEN NJ. July 29, 2021.

[216] Associated Press. “Reporter punched in face while covering anti-mask event.” AP News. August 28, 2021.;

[217] Associated Press. “Complaints filed after reporter attacked at anti-mask event.” AP News. September 11, 2021; Cerone, Heather Ferry. Facebook. September 17, 2021.

[218] Cerone, Heather Ferry. Facebook. August 19, 2021.; Cerone, Heather Ferry. Facebook. January 13, 2021.; Cerone, Heather Ferry. Facebook. December 11, 2020.

[219] Cerone, Heather Ferry. Facebook. September 16, 2021.

[220] Himchak, Elizabeth Marie. “Protesters disrupt Poway Unified board meeting, cause its adjournment.” Poway News Chieftain. September 9, 2021.

[221] Lopez-Villafaña, Andrea. “Anti-masking protesters disrupt Poway Unified school board meeting.” San Diego Union-Tribune. September 10, 2021.

[222] Fieldstadt, Elisha. “Florida dad accuses of pushing student, twisting her arm in school mask dispute.” NBC News. August 25, 2021.

[223] Lynch, Jamiel and Amir Vera. “Georgia authorities identify a grocery store cashier killed after a face mask dispute.” CNN. June 16, 2021.

[224] Peiser, Jacylyn. “Self-proclaimed ‘Vaccine Police’ tells Walmart pharmacists ‘they could be executed’ for administering shots.” Washington Post. August 19, 2021.

[225] Hope, Brittany. “Parent assaults teacher over mask dispute at Amador County school, superintendent says.” KCRA3. August 13, 2021.

[226] Alexander, Dean C. and Christopher E. Bitner. “The challenge of mask enforcement amid the pandemic.” Security. June 22, 2021.

Facebook and COVID Denial

How the platform is fueling another wave of far-right activism, insurrectionism, and violence, and what we can do to stop it.
A Special Report of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights

Copyright © 2021. Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.