Q Has Been Silent For A Year, But The Movement Hasn't Stopped Evolving

In December of 2020, digital prophet and conspiracy spigot “Q” posted their last official message to an imageboard that would become the mysterious figure’s final home. A year later the mythology continues, self-perpetuating and spawning new figureheads primed to take the place of Q. 

Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Canadian Anti-Hate Network

In the final days of November 2021, over 100 QAnon adherents gathered at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, the same site that saw US President John F. Kennedy assassinated in 1963. Far from a memorial for the political figure slain almost 60 years ago, the gathered were waiting for the leader and his son, JFK Jr – also dead – to return and reinstate Donald Trump (currently alive) as president of the United States. 

The crowd was reportedly gathered there by Michael Brian Protzman, a 58-year-old man from Washington state who has claimed that he is a god-like figure, the real Q, Jesus Christ, and more, all the while pushing antisemitic theories and media at his followers under the name Negative48. In Dallas, Protzman has leveraged what seems like an inordinate amount of control over his followers, dictating what they can eat (only fruit) and even what directions they can look, and when. In a particularly disturbing live stream, Protzman and other QAnon believers talked about the need for followers to undergo “physical death” to reach the “next phase.” 

Almost two weeks since the alleged date of both Kennedy’s return – more than a month after they first arrived at Dealey Plaza – some attendees remain in Dallas, still waiting. 

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In Canada, Romana Didulo remains the country’s self-declared regent and head of state, claiming authority from the same “white hats” who aided Trump in his rise to power. Heavily influenced by the QAnon ideology, Didulo’s recent infamy is due to open and reckless calls for paramilitary action by her now over 70,000 followers on an encrypted chat app, but the “queen of Canada” owes her initial notoriety to endorsements from several influential members of the international QAnon ecosystem. 

Without them, it is unlikely that Didulo, a marginal figure who lives in Victoria, BC, who originally only claimed leadership of the Canada 1st Party of Canada near the end of 2020, would have managed to extend her reach so far when she would declare herself queen in February of 2021. While the royal title is a self-imposed one, it came two months after what appears to be the final message from Q themselves. 

Even Didulo has evolved with her newfound fame. As of July, Didulo began claiming that her power comes from extraterrestrials, or the “Intergalactic Alliance Federation of Worlds of Light Beings.” Didulo encourages her followers to watch for UFOs and signs of energy shifts. She’s talked at length about “sky battles” with “plasma ships” where these light beings engage in battle with a nefarious entity - all for the preservation of what Didulo calls “Earth 2.0.” 

Most recently, after Didulo was taken for a psychiatric evaluation by the integrated national-security enforcement team (INSET) division of the RCMP due to posts she made directing followers to “duck hunt” and “shoot to kill” individuals administering the vaccine to children, she began engaging with her followers in new ways - interactive live streams. This newfound ability for her followers to interact with their queen directly has served to entrench them further in the belief that she is legitimate, and her orders are to be followed. 

Source: Encrypted messaging app used by Romana Didulo.

“If she wasn’t the queen, they wouldn’t have let her go,” one wrote after a live stream from Didulo where she claimed she was released as the hospital found nothing wrong with her. 

Public consciousness regarded the movement as being led by the statements of its chief evangelist, but in the absence of Q one year later its followers have confirmed the fears of researchers: that this is a perpetual belief system that will not be curbed by the loss of one figure – no matter if it is Q or Donald Trump himself.


Q Clearance Patriot


Regardless of the specific iteration or influencer, the basic tenets of QAnon generally say the same. There is always a “cabal,” the global group of extremely powerful pedo-satanic cannibals that snatch children off the street for unspeakable sex acts, brain chemical harvesting, and more often than not, both. From there, believers hold up one-term president Donald Trump as god-emperor of the charge against the “globalists” and the “deep state” who continue to orchestrate most major political and societal problems taking place across the world – most especially within the United States.

First appearing on October 28, 2017, on the imageboard 4chan, believers followed “Q Clearance Patriot” to 8chan, and finally, 8kun, where Q made the last of his close to 5,000 messages, dubbed “Q-drops.” Some were long, spanning many paragraphs and giving distinct reports about previously unknown world events and quiet actions being taken behind the scenes – the first drop reported that “HRC” or Hillary Rodham Clinton had been arrested: 

HRC extradition already in motion effective yesterday with several countries in case of cross border run. Passport approved to be flagged effective 10/30 @ 12:01am. Expect massive riots organized in defiance and others fleeing the US to occur. US M’s will conduct the operation while NG activated. Proof check: Locate a NG member and ask if activated for duty 10/30 across most major cities.

Others were short, vague, and were elucidated only by the many interpretations developed by the scores of at-home “researchers” who broke the messages apart, counted letters, latched onto phrases and built QAnon into a global phenomenon. 

Believers, or Anons, worked together to decipher the nonsensical messages, using mind-bending logic to do so, and thereby creating a community of like minded conspiracy theorists who believe they are working toward a higher calling – saving the world. 

Enclaves of QAnon believers have been found in many countries including Japan and the United Kingdom, and Canada, with notably large communities in France and Germany. Canadian Alexis Cossette-Trudel, host of a popular Q-based YouTube channel until it was shut down by the platform, has been instrumental in producing French-language QAnon content for viewers here and overseas. 

Vlogger and primary spreader of the Wayfair conspiracy – one which alleges certain expensive furniture items sold online through the Wayfair retailer are actually coded, allowing for the purchase of a child for exploitative purposes – Polly St George, aka Amazing Polly, lives in Kingston, Ontario. She also has been removed from most major social media platforms, but like Cossette-Trudel, continues to release content on alternative platforms. 

The gathering in Dallas is just one of a series of events that have heavily featured QAnon across the world. According to investigative journalists at Bellingcat, QAnon theories have resonated within the far-right Reichsbürger movement as well as the COVID-conspiracy focused Querdenker movement. 


Perpetual Conspiracy Machine 


QAnon survives using the same means that allowed it to spread. By stretching broadly rather than deep, previous veins of conspiratorial belief can be folded into the larger ideology. Branches include belief in aliens and UFO theories (like Romana Didulo,) strong religious underpinnings including the creation of a QAnon church, a renewed focus on child kidnappings to the point that the “#savethechildren” hashtag was blocked from searches on Instagram and Facebook, and pushes into overt forms of antisemitism from major Anon content channels, and more. 

This adaptability, which has spawned everything from QAnon-boosting Canadian police officers to wellness and woo “PastelAnon” Instagram accounts. In many far-right spaces, QAnon is regarded as a “PsyOp” – a term that indicates a psychological operation being carried out usually by governments or unseen forces. Despite this though, almost all COVID conspiracy spaces have some Q component present within them. The level of acceptance faced by Anons depends on where they insert themselves. 

The largest flashpoint event to involve QAnon is the attempt on January 6, 2021, to overturn the US presidential election results. While the world watched, thousands of Americans rallied in Washington DC, with the now infamous storming of the US Capitol building dominating the day. Some of the participants have been identified as members of groups like the Proud Boys, while others bore signs and clothing marrying them with Q. Most of the people who now face charges for their involvement in the events – which led to deaths and injuries of both police officers and attendees – don’t have any group involvement. Their movement is a decentralized, predominantly online network, spread across platforms and borders. 


Northern Exposure 


On July 2, 2020, when Corey Hurren, according to the RCMP, “breached the main pedestrian entrance” of Rideau Hall, the governor general’s official residence and the temporary home of the Trudeau family, with multiple weapons, most people had never heard of the theory that may have put him behind the wheel. It was quickly revealed that Hurren used his sausage business’ social accounts to make reference to “event 201” and “WWG1WGA” (where we go one we go all), both recognizable phrases regularly espoused by Q’s followers. 

Within the Canadian context, we have long seen QAnon related theories, often presented without the spectre of Q hanging overhead. The first signs of the belief system entering Canada were around the Yellow Vest protests in 2018, as first reported by Vice World News. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also appears in some of the earliest Q drops, being mentioned in the fifth statement under the Q account in 2017.

The ideology spread through Facebook and other major social media platforms but no significant action was taken until 2020. While the initial bans of explicitly Q-themed groups struck a small blow, the damage was done. Engaged and online, when distinct hashtags like #wwg1wga were blocked from searches, the Anons pivoted. Q instructed them to “deploy camouflage” to protect the digital communities - a lesson they continue to carry with them as we move into 2022. 

New hashtags continue to spread and quickly circumvent efforts to keep Anons from networking on major platforms – “BQQM” being a recent addition. The primary driver of QAnon content is now a series of small alternative social platforms, often designed and selected due to their lack of moderation or having advertised themselves explicitly as a home for worldviews not accepted in other online spaces. 

From calls for explicit violent action against Canadians by Didulo to police members voicing support on live streams to a cavalcade of support among other existing, similar beliefs like Sovereign Citizens and the growing COVID conspiracy movement, what we have learned in a year without Q, is that the culture that metastasized and spread. It may change shape and form, but it is here to stay. 

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