An Antifa member with an extended historical past of posting far-left extremist content material on-line has been arrested and charged with the taking pictures of an anti-vaxxer in Olympia, Wash.
Benjamin Anthony Varela, 36, of Olympia, was arrested on Thursday and charged with first-degree assault whereas armed with a lethal weapon.
On Sept. 4, a pair dozen Antifa from across the Pacific Northwest traveled to the Washington state Capitol constructing to attempt to shut down an anti-COVID vaccine mandate protest. The black-clad group was met by the rally’s volunteer right-wing safety, who included Proud Boys members. When the Antifa group ran to the Intercity Transit Station, one in all their masked members rotated and fired 5 9mm pistol rounds within the course of the right-wing group, which was about 50 ft behind, in line with safety footage. Proud Boys member Tusitala Toese was injured within the taking pictures.
Varela, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, deleted most of his social media accounts earlier than his arrest, however posts nonetheless accessible on Twitter present he corresponded backwards and forwards with the Spokane and Olympia DSA chapters in addition to Libcom.org, an anarchist-Communist web site. Previous to deleting his Twitter account, his bio learn, “skilled anarchist, thug, and paid protester.” His YouTube account, which continues to be on-line however doesn’t have any movies accessible to the general public, incorporates a pink and black Antifa flag as its profile picture. In accordance with the affidavit, Varela bumped into an alley behind the Union Gospel Mission after the taking pictures and discarded his black uniform.
“The suspect is seen eradicating his outer clothes and becoming the intense yellowish/greenish t-shirt,” wrote an Olympia Police detective within the prison criticism. “The suspect discarded his black t-shirt and beanie/watch cap within the alley.”
Varela is a member of the boards at web site One thing Terrible utilizing the display title “Doorknob Slobber.” He has an extended historical past of constructing extremist posts and has been suspended repeatedly by the moderators. In a 2017 thread discussing Antifa’s organizational construction, Varela wrote, “I feel it has one thing to do with … remaining decentralized in an effort to create cells as an alternative of a corporation construction that’s simply focused by legislation enforcement and different fascists.”
At first of the pandemic in March 2020, Varela wrote: “Begin hurting individuals, the coronavirus goes to supply nice cowl for an actual revolution.” He referred to as for individuals to take up arms. The identical month, he posted a rant wishing that each conservatives and liberals die of the coronavirus. In 2018, he wrote, “9/11 was good as a result of the US is a Nazi state so we deserved it.”
The prison criticism says the police interviewed Varela’s live-in girlfriend, Jessica Lynn O’Connor, 34, who admitted they attended the direct motion collectively on Sept. 4 whereas in black apparel. The detective obtained a search warrant for his or her property and located a handgun beneath the mattress.
“Jessica informed me the handgun was not hers and it belonged to Benjamin. She informed me all weapons and gun-related gadgets belonged to Benjamin,” the affidavit says.
Varela is being held on $100,000 bail in Thurston County Jail. His arraignment is ready for Oct. 5. It’s unknown if he has retained an lawyer. Days forward of his arrest, a well-liked Olympia-based Antifa account on Twitter alerted the general public that one in all their comrades had been visited by brokers with the FBI and ATF.