Laura Loomer

Laura Loomer
Laura Loomer on InfoWars.jpg
Loomer on InfoWars (2018)
Born
Laura Elizabeth Loomer

1992/1993 (age 27–28)[1]
EducationBarry University (BS)
OccupationActivist, political candidate
Known forFar-right political activism and commentary[a]
Political partyRepublican

Laura Elizabeth Loomer is an American political activist, conspiracy theorist,[2][3] and internet personality known for her far-right politics and commentary.[a] She is the 2020 Republican nominee to represent Florida's 21st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.[4][5]

Loomer was a reporter for Canadian far-right website The Rebel Media during the summer of 2017, resigning that September.[6][7][8][9][10] Until June 2017, she worked for Project Veritas with James O'Keefe.[7] She has also occasionally reported for the American far-right conspiracy theory and fake news website InfoWars.[11][12][13]

Loomer has been banned from numerous social media platforms, payment processors, vehicles for hire and food delivery mobile apps, and other establishments for various reasons, including violating policies on hate speech and spreading misinformation.[14][15][16] After her 2018 ban from Twitter, she handcuffed herself to Twitter's headquarters in New York for two hours before police cut through the handcuffs at her request.[3][17][18] Loomer was also banned from the March 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) after attempting to heckle reporters and chasing them through the conference.[19] After her August 2020 primary victory, Twitter reiterated that it would not unban her.[20]

Early life and education

Loomer and her two brothers were raised in Arizona by their father.[21] She attended Mount Holyoke College, leaving after one semester; she said she felt targeted for being conservative.[22] She transferred to Barry University,[22] in Miami Shores, Florida, from which she graduated with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism.[23] She is Jewish.[24]

Career

Loomer is a former employee of Project Veritas, a right-wing organization known for producing secretly recorded, selectively edited undercover audio and video investigations.[25][26][27] Until her resignation in September 2017, she was the New York correspondent for the Canadian far-right news site The Rebel Media.[22][28] Loomer has also occasionally reported for the American far-right conspiracy theory and fake news website InfoWars.[11][12][13]

On March 1, 2019, Loomer was banned from the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) after aggressively confronting reporters, using her press credentials to follow them into a media-only area after they had declined to speak with her.[29] In particular, she heckled CNN reporter Oliver Darcy with questions about internet censorship and social media bans.[30][29]

Electoral politics

On August 2, 2019, Loomer filed with the Federal Election Commission to run as a Republican for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida's 21st congressional district, President Trump's home district, which is represented by Democrat Lois Frankel.[3][19][31] Trump has retweeted tweets from the account "4 Laura Loomer 'The Antidote to the Squad'" supporting Loomer's bid for Congress.[32] On August 18, 2020, Loomer won the Republican primary, defeating five opponents.[5] She received 14,500 votes out of 34,000 cast (43%). Her chances to win the general election in November are low as the district leans heavily Democratic.[3]

Activism

2015–2017[edit]

In March 2015, Loomer used a concealed video camera to record her conversations with Barry University officials, discussing the idea of starting a club called "Sympathetic Students in Support of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria." The school apparently asked only that the club's name be changed to "Students in Support of the Middle East." The video of her encounter was released by O'Keefe with Project Veritas.[22] He alleged that Loomer's video captured a university official unfazed by the idea of an on-campus organization to support ISIS.[33] Shortly after O'Keefe released the edited video, the university suspended Loomer for violating the student code of conduct rules; criminal charges were also filed against her for taping university officials without their knowledge.[34] At the time, Loomer was an honors student in her senior year, the president of Barry University's Young Republicans Club, and majoring in communications.[35]

According to a Clinton campaign official, in July 2015 Loomer and two other women posing as supporters of Hillary Clinton attempted to "entrap" campaign workers into accepting illegal cash donations. The official said that the campaign had complied with the law.[36]

On November 8, 2016, the day of the U.S. 2016 Presidential election, Loomer went to a polling station dressed in a burqa and asked for a ballot under the name of Huma Abedin.[7]

On June 7, 2017, at a Chelsea Clinton book signing event in New York City, Loomer asked Clinton to sign a copy of her new children's book, She Persisted, for Juanita Broaddrick, one of former President Bill Clinton's most persistent accusers. The former first daughter refused to sign it.[37]

On June 10, 2017, Loomer gave a speech to a crowd of "anti-sharia" marchers in New York City and condemned "liberals who aligned themselves with sharia law."[38] She put a burqa on the Fearless Girl statue at Bowling Green in lower Manhattan.[39]

Julius Caesar play protest[edit]

On June 16, 2017, Loomer disrupted that evening's Shakespeare in the Park presentation of Julius Caesar in New York City by walking on stage during the live performance shortly after the title character was assassinated.[40] The Delacorte Theatre production reimagined Julius Caesar as Donald Trump with a Slovenian-accented wife as Calpurnia.[41] Before being escorted offstage by security, Loomer shouted, "This is violence against Donald Trump! Stop the normalization of political violence against the right! This is unacceptable!"[39][42] Loomer was arrested for disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing.[43][44] Earlier in the week, showings of the play had elicited criticism for depicting women and minorities perpetrating the violent assassination of Trump as U.S. president.[45]

Public Theater New York responded by saying although they are "champions" of the First Amendment, the disruption was caused by "social media".[46] On June 19, Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post wrote that she did not believe Loomer was genuinely offended by the play but was looking for attention and to collect a $1,000 bounty offered by an alt-right individual for disruption of the production.[47] Appearing on the Fox News program Hannity a few days after her arrest, Loomer admitted she knew that disrupting the play would result in criminal charges against her. During the interview, she objected to the controversial Trump-like depiction of Caesar in the play[42] and accused the left of "systematically and programmatically" using "free expression as a pretext to incite violence."[48] A "Free Laura" website soliciting donations for her arrest was purchased by Loomer's employer, Rebel Media owner Ezra Levant, six hours before the play started.[49] Loomer also promoted a WeSearchr page for donations, which received $12,385 from 241 contributors, more money than the normal penalties for the charges she was facing.[50]

2018

Loomer attended the March 2018 trial of Noor Salman using press credentials, which were revoked after she harassed Salman's family. She returned to the trial the next day and was removed by a U.S. Marshal.[51]

In April 2018, Loomer disrupted an event promoting James Comey's book A Higher Loyalty. She was taken out of the building by security.[52]

In September 2018, Loomer briefly disrupted a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing.[53] She accused Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who was testifying before the committee, of censoring conservatives on the platform and of attempting to influence the election in favor of Democrats. Republican Representative Billy Long, who was an auctioneer before joining Congress, drowned her shouting out with an auction chant until she was escorted from the building.[54][55]

2019

On January 14, 2019, Loomer tricked several men she met in a Home Depot parking lot, whom she claimed were undocumented, into jumping the fence at Nancy Pelosi's Napa, California home. The group set up a tent on Pelosi's lawn to protest immigration before being removed by police. They were not arrested.[56][57][58] A few days later, Loomer attempted to interrupt a speaker at the Women's March in Washington, D.C., appearing onstage to call the Women's March a "Nazi" organization. As she was escorted off by security, she shouted "What about the Jews?"[57]

On January 30, 2019, Loomer and others jumped the wall surrounding the California Governor's Mansion in Sacramento. They wore Mexican serapes and sombreros, with one wearing a "large fake mustache", and said they were protesting Governor Gavin Newsom's stance on immigration. They were arrested, given citations, and released within a few hours.[59] The group then provoked a confrontation outside a Mexican restaurant in downtown Sacramento, live-streaming the event.[60]

In February 2019, Loomer was banned from PayPal,[14] GoFundMe, and Venmo.[61] In response, Loomer claimed that "Left wing terrorists and tech tyrants" were "trying to shut me down" and said she would "stop at nothing to make sure justice is served for the way Silicon Valley has disenfranchised me, falsely accusing me of being a white supremacist, a Nazi, anti-Muslim, a racist, a bigot, and every other smear in the book."[61]

Loomer was one of several right-wing activists who was banned by Facebook and its Instagram subsidiary in 2019, for using the platform to spread misinformation and extremism.[16][62] Loomer's subsequent lawsuits against Twitter, Apple, Facebook and Google, in which she was represented by right-wing activist lawyer Larry Klayman, were thrown out of court.[63][64]

In August 2019, Loomer filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against Representative Rashida Tlaib alleging that during the disruption of an August 2018 campaign event by Loomer and others, Tlaib "violently grabbed" Loomer's cellphone while Loomer was questioning her about foreign policy. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the "video of the incident includes audio of Loomer asking Tlaib if she was 'willing to admit … that Hamas is a terrorist organization.'"[65][66]

Views

Loomer has described herself as a nationalist and called immigration a threat to American heritage.[67] Fortune has called Loomer a "far-right provocateur".[68] Cultural critic James Wolcott called Loomer a "raging zealot ... intent on becoming the agent provocateur."[69]

Loomer has denounced the alt-right and publicly repudiated white supremacist Richard B. Spencer, who coined the term, and refused to share a stage with him. She received antisemitic threats and harassment from the alt-right after this dispute.[24] Despite this, Loomer has been described as being part of the alt-right movement,[b] as well as alt-lite.[22][67][70]

Anti-Muslim

On November 1, 2017, following a terrorist attack in New York City, Loomer tweeted that she was late to a conference because she could not find a "non Muslim cab or @Uber @lyft driver". She called for the creation of a new ride-sharing company that did not employ Muslims after it became known that the suspect in the attack was a former driver for Uber. Her daylong "tweetstorm" blamed all Muslims for the activities of radical Islamists such as ISIS. Following this, both Uber and Lyft announced that she had violated their guidelines and was banned from using their services.[71][72] She described herself on Twitter at the time as a “#ProudIslamophobe" and called for a complete and permanent ban on Muslims entering the United States.[32]

In August 2018, Loomer disrupted a congressional campaign event for Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, which Tlaib attended. Loomer shouted questions that implied that Tlaib was anti-semitic.[73][74] In November that year, Twitter banned Loomer from its platform for violating its rules against hateful behavior. According to Loomer, she was banned for a tweet about Omar in which Loomer called her "anti-Jewish" and a member of a religion in which "homosexuals are oppressed" and women are "abused" and "forced to wear the hijab." Loomer denied that the tweet was a violation.[15][75] A week after the ban, she handcuffed herself to a door at Twitter's New York City headquarters in protest while wearing a yellow "Jude" patch.[76] After approximately two hours, police removed the handcuffs with a bolt cutter at her request. Loomer was not arrested.[17][77]

In February 2019, Loomer traveled to Minnesota with Jacob Wohl, a far-right conspiracy theorist who has made high-profile false claims about public figures.[78] Loomer and Wohl said they were investigating a false and debunked conspiracy theory that Omar had married her brother so that he could obtain U.S. citizenship.[79][80] Vox debunked Loomer and Wohl's conspiracy theory as "largely nonsensical", citing that there is no evidence that Ahmed Elmi, Omar's ex-husband whom Loomer and Wohl claimed to be her brother, was related to Omar in any way; that U.S. law permits a citizen to petition citizenship for their siblings, voiding the need for a marriage; and that Elmi, a British citizen, has never received U.S. citizenship.[80] Loomer had previously accosted Omar with the false rumor at the October 2018 campaign event.[73] On Instagram in 2019, Loomer uploaded a video about Omar, blaming her and all Muslims for the September 11 attacks and asserting "Muslims should not even be allowed to seek positions of political office in this country”.[32]

Right Wing Watch reported that donations solicited by Loomer were going to the address of The United West, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an anti-Muslim hate group.[81][61] The Council on American–Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights organization, also calls The United West "Islamophobic".[82]

Spreading conspiracy theories

Loomer has promoted conspiracy theories, mostly related to mass shootings. She has falsely claimed that school shootings in February 2018 in Parkland, Florida, and in May 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas, were staged, and that the perpetrator of the 2017 Las Vegas shootings was affiliated with ISIS.[83][84][13] Loomer claimed on Twitter that crisis actors were used for the Santa Fe school shooting, prompting concerns about the spread of misleading information and conspiracy theories by troll farms and social bots.[68][13]

In July 2018, Loomer promoted the false narrative that a man arrested with bomb-making equipment and illegal weapons had been a "leftist antifa terrorist".[85] The man in question was instead a conservative whose Facebook profile was filled with pro-Second Amendment memes.[85]

During the October 2018 United States mail bombing attempts, Loomer tried to spread the conspiracy theory that the bombing attacks were a "false flag" operation orchestrated by Democrats.[86][87][88]

References

Citations

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Informational notes

  1. ^ a b Sources describing Loomer as "far-right" include:
  2. ^ Sources describing Loomer as "alt-right" include:

External links

Information

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