‘It sure feels like 1776’: Tampa Bay native spoke at D.C. ‘Stop the Steal’ rally night before deadly Capitol insurrection

“If you want to see what patriots do when they get in an uprising, then vote to certify the fraud tomorrow."

click to enlarge ‘It sure feels like 1776’: Tampa Bay native spoke at D.C. ‘Stop the Steal’ rally night before deadly Capitol insurrection
Screengrab via Right Wing Watch/Twitter

On Jan. 5, the night before Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election, Tampa Bay resident and far-right influencer Rogan O’Handley spoke before a crowd of “patriots,” and claimed that the people he allegedly spoke to at the White House think “something good is going to happen tomorrow.”

“It may be 40 degrees out here, but it sure feels like 1776,” yelled O’Handley to the crowd in a clip from Right Side Broadcasting posted by Right Wing Watch. “I was just at the White House. I can't tell you who I was meeting with, but they're optimistic. They think something good is going to happen tomorrow, all I gotta say is it damn well better happen, because I don't want to see these patriots more pissed off than they already are in D.C., right next to Congress.” 

O’Handley ends his speech with an apparent threat to lawmakers who plan to certify the Electoral College results. “If you want to see what patriots do when they get in an uprising, then vote to certify the fraud tomorrow,” said O’Hadley. “But you better make the right decision tomorrow, or you're gonna have a whole lot of pissed off patriots in D.C.”

Creative Loafing Tampa Bay reached out to O’Handley for comment, but he has yet to respond. 

O’Handley’s extremist “1776” rhetoric was a common theme at the “Stop the Steal” rally, which took place at Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. Besides O’Handley, other speakers that day included a who’s who roster of right wing online shit posters and political grifters, including Roger Stone, George Papadopoulos, and OANN News Anchor Jack Posobiec.

Far-right preacher Joshua Feuerstein, who was also a guest speaker at the rally, told the crowd it was “time for war.” Another speaker, activist Megan Barth warned that any Republican who didn't object to the “stolen, fraudulent election" would "receive our wrath."

Before leading chants of “victory or death,” the event’s organizer, Ali Alexander, tweeted that unless Congress responds to the protests, “everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building," referencing the U.S. Capitol. “1776 is *always* an option,” he added.

“Conflating our legally, peaceful permitted events with the breach of the US Capitol building is defamatory and false,” said Alexander to the Washington Post. “People are being misled and then those same people are fomenting violence against me and my team.”

Over the last few years, O’Handley, who goes by the name DC_Draino, has amassed an immense following on social media, with over 1.2 million followers on Instagram. In the days leading up to Jan. 6, the former entertainment lawyer turned Trump meme peddler, pushed a multitude of conspiracy theories and false claims, ranging from posts about how the election was rigged, fraudulent or stolen, to the coronavirus pandemic is “no deadlier than the flu,” and “Big Green” is secretly behind climate change. 

But even after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol for an insurrection that led to multiple deaths including two police officers, O’Handley tweeted multiple false claims that it was in fact “antifa” or “leftist agitators” that were responsible for the failed attempt to overthrow the government. 

In one post he claimed that the recently arrested “QAnon Shaman” must be a leftist “disguised as a Trump supporter.”  

According to an August 2020  interview with The Federalist, O’Handley says he left a lucrative job as an attorney to “fight for Trump on social media.”

“My primary goal is to wake up as many patriots as possible and get as many involved to help save America, because right now oppressive leftism is kicking the door and making its way in,” he told the publication.” The riots and protests we’re observing now, O’Handley says, are an example of “as bad as it gets.”

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About The Author

Colin Wolf

Colin Wolf has been working with weekly newspapers since 2007 and has been the Digital Editor for Creative Loafing Tampa since 2019. He is also the Director of Digital Content Strategy for CL's parent company, Chava Communications.
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