Canadian Anti-Hate Network
On Wednesday, American white nationalist Nick Fuentes gathered a group of his “Groypers” outside of Staten Island University Hospital. Ostensibly there protesting mandated vaccines for healthcare workers, the event rallied together the streamer’s supporters under a single banner.
Among the crowd gathered on Wednesday -- Fuentes pegged the gathering around 70 people during his speech -- was Tyler Russell, the Groyper movement’s self-appointed representative in Canada. A fresh addition to Fuentes’ new streaming platform, Russell’s claim to fame is as a host of the online show “Canada First” -- a pale imitation of America First, Fuentes’ own show.
“We here have the freedom as autonomous citizens to defend our faith and our family. That’s why we say America first,” Fuentes said over a megaphone. He took several opportunities to direct boos towards members of the press attending to cover the event, and categorized the vaccine as the “biggest human experiment in human history.”
Dressed in all black, and sporting what he said was a bulletproof vest, the streamer chastised mainstream conservatism for not following his line.
“They say ‘don’t tread on me’ and what happens?” his amplified voice told the crowd of mostly white males. “Year after year after year, we elect Republicans, we elect Democrats, and nothing ever changes, does it? They just stay exactly the same.”
“That’s because nobody is willing to sacrifice anything. Nobody is willing to get up off the couch, to lose their job, nobody’s willing to get socially ostracized for having the wrong opinion.”
After his short speech accusing everyone from the US Federal Reserve to the World Health Organization, and a slew of other international organizations and companies of participating in satanic rituals, Fuentes stayed to mingle with his supporters. Among them was Canadian Tyler Russell.
Another streamer associated with Fuentes asked people making monetary donations to only add “optical donos,” meaning the custom messages that play automatically after a contribution should not contain potentially embarrassing or offensive content. The comment sections of the streams were consistently peppered with racial slurs and calls for sexual violence against female members of the press who were present.
This push for “optics” is characteristic of Fuentes’ Groyper movement -- which has fashioned itself out of the ashes of the alt-right -- and has resulted in their attempts to mainstream their views and content.
On the gaming chat platform Discord, Russell has taken opportunities in the past to rail against his followers being “not optical”: “R*****s are posting sonnenrads and swastikas, like bruh. It blows my mind how, even at this point, people don’t get optics. Like, in private, go for it, say whatever.”
The Alberta Separatist Youth League, which was founded by self-described Groypers, described their agenda as “optics friendly national socialism.”
During his Wednesday Staten Island speech, Fuentes made appeals to the officers making up the large police presence on scene, whom he categorized as “just like us, working-class, middle-class people,” leading to chants of “back the blue.”
It’s unclear how genuine he was, as Fuentes popularized the expression “ACAF,” All Cops Are F*****s, as a denunciation of their role in enforcing public health measures.
“We support the police and back the blue, but the blue has to back us,” he said.
Russell is the host of “Canada First,” an online show so crude it cost him his job at a Toronto-area Urban Outfitters, and led classmates to write a petition asking for him to be expelled from Ryerson University, where he studied political science.
Russell is also the leader of the youth-oriented white supremacist chat of the same name, which the Canadian Anti-Hate Network exposed in June. More recently, Russell hosted an election stream where he offered his own particular brand of commentary during the 2021 federal election.
Taking place at the same location as failed PPC candidate Chelsea Hillier’s election party, Russell’s guests included both Chelsea Hillier and her father, Ontario MPP Randy Hillier, as well as her former riding manager, white nationalist Shane Marshall (who had reportedly been fired from the campaign after being charged with assault).
Other guests included multiple members of the Plaid Army streaming collective, a swath of American streamers, and the guest of honour Fuentes himself.
Fuentes gained notoriety after reportedly receiving threats at Boston University after attending the 2017 “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville. A popular streamer and organizer, he has been removed from multiple social media platforms for his views that include support for the Great Replacement Theory, COVID conspiracism, and condemnation of interracial relationships -- “We want children to be happy and not on drugs, and that’s why we opposed mixed marriages.”
Fuentes has said previously, “If you are a White male zoomer, remember that the people in power hate you and your unborn children and they will try to genocide you in your lifetime.”