In the midst of political chaos, it may seem odd I focus on stuff like this, but I think it’s part of a greater whole - I want to talk about a young man, Max who has been hanging around the Far Right ‘Yellow Vests’. Specifically, I want to talk about online radicalisation. 1/
Once again, none of this constitutes investigative journalism, just drawing stuff together that’s available online. AFAIK, nothing in this thread is leaked or stolen. That’s an important distinction to make, at a time when privacy is a growing concern. /2
While I don’t want to get into his background in too much detail, it is important to highlight. Max Hammet-Millay, or ‘Red Cap Max’ was adopted almost 18 years ago from a Russian orphanage, a couple of years after his parents adopted an older brother. /3 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6571513/One-yobs-called-Anna-Soubry-Nazi-private-school-educated-former-Corbyn-supporter.html …
Without going into too much detail, it is clear that Max has had developmental difficulties in the past, and is very probably high-functioning autistic. It appears he has completed his secondary schooling and now studies in Portsmouth, while living in London. /4
To get an idea of just how radicalised Max has become, it’s important to understand that back in 2016, he was marching against Theresa May’s austerity cuts, and seemingly in full support of the EU and Jeremy Corbyn, as this Vice piece shows. /5 https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/exkpvp/no-austerity-racism-march-new-tory-cabinet …
I do not highlight that to suggest that back then he was ‘thinking the right way’, rather that he was holding beliefs almost diametrically opposed to the ones he holds now - and that’s a rather disturbing proposition. /9
While I’m fairly sure that I saw Max at a few protests, I first really took notice when a group calling themselves ‘Make Britain Great Again’ raided @Bookmarks_Book in August 2018 and caused damage. Max is visible in many of the photos, probably because he’s gone shirtless. /10
Max began to turn up in footage of a number of other protests I watched, and really started to become a regular presence with the ‘Yellow Vest’ group led by James Goddard, holding demonstrations. He was at the forefront of the group, and once again, appeared in many photos. /11
Max drew nationwide attention when he was filmed alongside James Goddard harassing MP Anna Soubry outside the houses of Parliament. In fact, it drew the attention of national newspapers, who reiterated his background. /12
Since then, Max has continued to attend ‘Yellow Vest’ events in London and it appears that he has been arrested by police more than once. It would seem that if he continues on this path, he is heading towards real trouble - a violent incident, a record, perhaps imprisonment. /13
What’s responsible for this lurch to the Far Right? I can’t be sure, but I’m confident the internet - in particular, right wing figures online - have played a significant role. Here are some of the FB statuses he’s shared, that espouse white nationalism, via @thesteepletimes. /14
I’m also well aware that he’s started down the exact same path of creating videos and crowdfunding donations that some more established figures in the Far Right have. Here is a still from his YouTube channel, where he espouses some pretty shocking views about race. /15
While Max is an adult and is free to hold whatever views he likes, it’s clear that his exposure to Far Right material online has coincided with a swift and sharp slide towards holding those beliefs, and he’s felt the need to act on them. That’s a real concern. /17
What’s also clear is several groups, from the UKIP/MBGA individuals involved with the Bookmarks raid, to the ‘Yellow Vests’, have egged him on, despite the fact that he is clearly vulnerable to influence. That’s clear from the extent to which he’s engaged in disturbances. /18
At the very least, someone from Prevent should be talking to Max about the last year and his interactions with several groups. More importantly however, we should be considering how many otherMaxes there are out there, being influenced by Far Right opportunists. /19
I was in two minds to post this thread - it’s often a challenge when it involves an individual, & you haven’t stood in their shoes. However, I think it’s important, as we teeter on Brexit, to address those who use it as a recruiting opportunity for truly odious beliefs. /20
If you’ve got more information about Max and his path towards the Far Right, or if you’d like to clarify something, please don’t hesitate, and I’m happy to post corrections. Thanks for reading. /FIN
You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.
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