Freedom Corner, Taylor Taranto and a Failure of Imagination

Taylor Taranto in 2022 during the 1776 Restoration Movement protest on the National Mall.
Taylor Taranto in 2022 during the 1776 Restoration Movement protest on the National Mall.

In the days before January 6th, everyone in DC knew that something terrible was going to happen. Trump supporters had been in the city the month before, when they had run riot through the streets, vandalized a church and beat up people they believed to be Antifa.

I had seen it myself, witnessing a group of Proud Boys threaten teenagers on Black Lives Matter Plaza. Only the presence of the police stopped the Proud Boys from assaulting the teens.

In the days before the sixth, there were threats all over cyberspace, with maps of the Capitol posted and talk of weapon dumps. They weren’t hard to find, either – threats had been posted to Twitter and shared with the FBI and other agencies.

On the day of the sixth, Mayor Bowser ordered people to stay indoors for their safety, since violent Trump mobs were expected downtown. Everything was boarded-up and nearly everything was closed (except for greedy hotels hosting the rioters).

What happened next was a failure of imagination. The Capitol Police couldn’t imagine that a mob of people who looked just like them would attack, despite all the evidence submitted to the contrary.

History has repeated itself with Freedom Corner, the nightly vigil outside the DC Jail where January 6ers chant the name of Ashli Babbitt and demand the release of prisoners from the “gulag.”

Again, citizens have done the detective work. Reported to the police, FBI and other agencies that January 6th terrorists had organized the protest, were steeped in Qanon and had stalked and attacked counterprotestors.

Nothing was done.

So, it was no great surprise to anyone who has been watching Freedom Corner that Taylor Taranto, who has been hanging around DC since last year’s trucker convoy, was arrested for threatening President Obama. Those kinds of threats are a nightly occurrence at Freedom Corner.

You didn’t need to be a counterintelligence officer to figure it out, either. All you had to do was follow #freedomcorner on Twitter and you could watch Taranto live-streaming himself (video saved by Anarchy Princess) stumbling through the woods behind Obama’s house.

The leaders of Freedom Corner now claim that Taranto was never part of their movement, despite the hours of footage showing him there; he even marched in the Memorial Day protest for Ashli Babbitt.

Freedom Corner claims to have kicked him out. Which they did, but not because he was a violent psycho, but because he gave an interview to DOA and stated his belief that Ashli Babbitt was still alive. Being violent or crazy won’t get you kicked out of the cult; being a heretic will.

Again, another security failure due to a lack of imagination. This time, one that endangered a former president.

I’ve said that Freedom Corner was a joke. I was wrong.

It’s time to take Freedom Corner seriously. They are a nest of traitors seeking to foment another insurrection. And they are spinning off terrorists like Taylor Taranto, who they motivated to violence through their nightly cult rituals.

Taranto isn’t the only violent member of Freedom Corner – far from it. If you look at the vigil, you can see a couple of other Tarantos in the making. Let’s hope that the police do something about it this time.

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

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