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People ask this a lot!

Short answer is, nazis had a rally in Philly, I got mad and outed some of them, and @AntiFashGordon tempted me into this Twitter life of glamour and intrigue you see before you.
Longer story: I double-majored in sociology/anthro (a combined dept at @swarthmore) and religion.

While I was studying I just fell in love with ethnography (observing culture, basically) and wrote my thesis on white pagan appropriation of Afro-atlantic religion.
I'd been organizing as a student since I was 16, and got really into labor organizing out of college. I ended up running a community-religious congregation-labor coalition that ran direct action campaigns focused on workers' rights.
I loved it because it combined my political beliefs with the sort of private ethnographic work of getting to know different political/religious subcultures and also (when researching campaigns and targets) the kind of power analysis sociology is all about.
I was getting my masters in government work and transitioning out of that job (to go work in public policy or at a union, I thought) when Trump got elected. That's when my partner and I started having "how far would we go to fight fascists" conversations.
After Charlottesville, @NelStamp organized the @cville2dc march, and I ended up volunteering as a rear marshall. I remember the guy who trained me in on that being like, fyi be sure you want to do this, because if another driver wants to plow antifascists, we're first hit.
After that march I ended up working for a little while at a PA-wide black-run interfaith racial justice org.

Black colleagues from central PA would talk about being stalked by white supremacists, getting tailed by the Klan.

Like Charlottesville, it was a wakeup call.
I parted ways with that org just as #AbolishICE was taking hold-- just as we started to learn about children in cages, family separation, actual genocide being done in our names.

I had experience from Occupy, so I helped out on #occupyice encampment stuff in Philly.
Proud Boys in Philly started trolling the encampment, and the first Proud Boy march in Philly took place in August. Nominally it was a #bluelivesmatter march, but really it was about showing white supremacist opposition to the #abolishice movement.
When they had their second rally on 11/17/18, Philly organizers and skilled antifascists like @antifashgordon and @socialistdogmom worked with Philly folks to organize a really powerful resistance and well-attended counter-rally.
When I invited friends to attend with me, a couple friends of color were (politely) like, "no fucking way am I going downtown when there are actual nazis who want me extinct there. That's your job."
That stuck with me for a couple reasons.

First, in nonprofit organizing I'd seen a lot of supposedly anti-racist spaces where white people take up all the room and leadership positions.
Having black comrades say, "this [putting your body on the front line counter-protesting nazis] is a space where white bodies and white privilege can actually be really effectively leveraged" was helpful guidance in terms of starting to figure out where I belonged in the work.
Second, hearing people I care about saying "because of my skin color, I literally do not feel safe going downtown while there are nazis there" really made shit real for me.

I was fucking furious realizing nazis were succeeding at making my friends feel unsafe in their own city.
By the end of the rally, my partner and I ended up mixed in with antifa as they kept close to the fash.

When the Proud Boys started their parade through center city, we were right there, so I started taking pictures of them.
I posted them online, and someone from Facebook id'd Charles Matthias, a GOP committeeperson here in Philly.

It really gave me the willies knowing that there were Proud Boys *in* local politics, so I started trolling the local GOP about it.
They didn't respond, but some asshole MMA nazi from Arkansas sure did, sending me my first-ever rape/death threat.

That's when someone suggested I get in touch with @AntiFashGordon, who helped poke around for some clues as to who the guy was.
With his help (and the help of the dude's MMA gym, which was.*very* unhappy to find themselves connected to a rape-threatening nazi) I was able to make the ID.

The dude killed all his internet accounts instantly, which was honestly extremely satisfying.
That's when I really got into it. It used a lot of the same relationship-mapping and cultural research skills that I'd enjoyed/honed doing beginner ethnography in college & organizing afterwards, I loved the feeling of making an ID, & it felt super-necessary in the era of Trump.
Right around the time I'd run out of Proud Boys that I could figure out how to ID, @UR_Ninja leaked internal chats from the nazi Identity Evropa showing them bragging about how GOP mayoral nominee Billy Ciancaglini had met with them and courted their votes.
I wrote about it on Facebook, Billy threatened to sue me, and it was then that someone DMed me to say, check out these photos, Billy marched with the Proud Boys back in August.

I posted them here, IDing first Billy and Matthias, then Young Republicans treasurer Brian Lieb.
With help from more experienced comrades, I was eventually able to identify most of those marching with these GOP folks as Proud Boys and other local far right extremists and white supremacists.
In the wake of the @UR_Ninja leaks, amtifascists identified David Fanelli as the PA Identity Evropa ringleader, and posted an archived image of his Facebook friends page. It was just LOADED with local GOP leaders and electeds.
That's about the time I went from "nazis are bad, i want to out them in my spare time" to "holy fuck nazis have very effectively infiltrated the local GOP." I started looking into that angle, and turning up a lot.
Local media wouldn't cover any of it, with the exception of a couple very careful articles about Billy, so I became really determined to cover it myself and *make* folks in Philly see it.
This was around the time the Christ Church, Pittsburgh, and California white supremacist mass shootings happened.

I started poking around 8chan to see what this world was the shooters had come out of.
I realized very quickly that this was the primordial ooze that had to be the origin of a whole lot of the ugliness, memetic symbols, and language I was seeing when I looked at local online nazi organizing.

So I started writing about that, too.
I chose to do all this under my own name because 1) I'm tired of folks using researcher anonymity as an excuse to write this work off as fringe, and 2) to prove that doing this work isn't an automatic death sentence or something, and 3) to let them know I'm not scared.
I feel good about how (1) & (3) have worked out so far, and while things have gotten a little hairy lately re: (2) what with the death threats and midnight house visits, it's only dangerous right now because the PHL Proud Boys are desperate as a result of antifascist work.
One benefit of doing this work under my real name as a somewhat-known person in Philly and elected democratic committeewoman is that it's been really hard for the nazis to claim I'm fringe or violent or antifa.

I'm so boring that people listen.
That's allowed my Twitter presence to grow quite a bit, and as trust has grown between me and other skilled and more experienced researchers who prefer anonymity, it's let me use this account to help make sure their work gets in front of more eyes.
So basically, thanks to early encouragement from folks like @AntiFashGordon, this ended up being a place where my beliefs, my organizing, my local reputation, my training/experience, my interests, & my fucking terror at the USA's slide into fascism merged into something useful.
Anyway, I'm sure this is far more detail than anyone was looking for, but folks often contact me asking about how to break into this work, and this is how I did it.

Hopefully it's useful to people who are interested in doing more and trying to figure out where to start!
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