Pro-Trump demonstrations are a regular fixture of weekends at Georgia’s state Capitol since the November general election. Usually, these events end without incident. Trump supporters and counter-protesters trickle back to their vehicles and leave.
But after a recent pro-Trump rally in Atlanta over election results, some demonstrators say a Georgia militia group allegedly drove around the city in search of counter-protesters to assault at gunpoint. WABE has spoken to the alleged victims and reviewed partial video of the incident.
Several blocks from where the Dec. 12 rally had ended, a group of four anti-fascist activists said they were packing up to leave. One of them had lost their car keys and was waiting on a locksmith.
They say two trucks pulled up behind them near a Georgia State University parking lot on Auburn Ave. Another group of trucks allegedly blocked off nearby traffic.
“Chris Hill jumped out first.” said one of the victims, who agreed to talk to WABE on the condition of anonymity. Hill is a leader of a local Three Percenter militia group.
“And almost simultaneously, all the other doors opened in all the other trucks. And every one of them pulled their guns out, had us all at gunpoint,” said the alleged victim who is a 30-something, self-identified Antifa protester who asked to be called Greenbae.
Greenbae and the others who were with him say they fear retribution from their alleged attackers, as well as police entanglement. They have not filed charges. Greenbae said he tried to start a livestream as the armed men approached.
The video shows at least three masked men closing in fast. One has what appears to be a stun gun and another cocks a rifle. Greenbae’s voice can be heard saying he and his group are unarmed as one of the alleged attackers repeats, “You wanna f***in’ die?” “And I’m recording right then until they hit my phone out of my hands,” said Greenbae of the moment the live stream is cut.
He said he and three fellow activists were surrounded by more than a dozen armed men. He and a friend were allegedly hit. Greenbae said his group had tried to retreat toward an area where security cameras were likely to capture the incident. WABE has reviewed the original live video. In it, following the alleged attack, bystanders can be heard asking Greenbae if the scene they had just witnessed was being filmed for a movie.
Later that same day, Chris Hill boasted about the alleged attack in a YouTube video. Another channel, Atlanta Antifascists, captured and rehosted the video before the original video was taken down.
“Four of them got some. They didn’t want it. I don’t want to get into details,” Hill said in the video, which was filmed in a vehicle. Celebratory radio chatter can be heard.
“I kicked your ass and put your face into the side of the building,” said Hill, who mentions that his tire had allegedly been slashed during the rally. The victims of his alleged attack told WABE they had nothing to do with destruction to Hill’s vehicle.
Hill has since told WABE the video was an exaggeration and denies personally assaulting or threatening anyone.
No Victim, No Crime?
What will happen next is hard to predict. The victims say their political beliefs mean they’re unlikely to file a police report.
“We’re skeptical on the criminal justice system, to say the least,” said Greenbae. Unreported political violence is a thorny issue in cities around the country that have seen heated protests.
Georgia State University Police said a third party called in the alleged assault. They tell WABE they’ve passed information about the incident to the FBI, which does not confirm or deny investigations. The Atlanta Police Department said it has not been contacted about the incident. Meanwhile, the Fulton County District Attorney’s office is currently in transition. Outgoing district attorney Paul Howard did not respond to inquiries and WABE has been unable to reach District Attorney-elect Fani Willis.
“When you look around at what’s happening, you know, Proud Boys showing up in D.C. or Charlottesville and largely going unmolested by the police or district attorneys or the departments of justice, you begin to think that you’re impervious, said Juan Chavez an attorney with the Oregon Justice Resource Center.
And that you could act with impunity,” said Chavez. He is based in Portland, a city that has seen civil unrest turn fatal in recent months and years.
Chavez said in Portland too, victims of right-wing violence often don’t press criminal charges. “I know, in local examples, that the police are always saying: ‘Well just come to us, you know? We didn’t charge anybody because there’s no victims,’” he said.
But Chavez said law enforcement has broad discretion in these cases.
“I think most people of color would be surprised that police will not charge you if no victims come forward, because people still get charged without named victims or known victims,” Chavez said.
In Portland, prosecutors have chosen to arrest and charge far right leaders and their associates for alleged violent acts, according to Chavez. However, it’s only after legal advocacy groups like his have sued the alleged assailants.
In one similar, recent case there, Chavez helped file a lawsuit against three men associated with the far-right Proud Boys. One of them had been recorded allegedly pointing a handgun at a crowd during a pro-Trump rally. Days after the lawsuit was filed, that man was arrested. Chavez said public outcry also helped.
Video of the recent alleged assault in downtown Atlanta, especially along with Chris Hill’s own words, could warrant criminal charges, according to Chavez.
“What more would anybody want to go after these people? I mean, you have an admission. That should be conclusive,” said Chavez. “The victim is the state, I would say. [Law enforcement] should act on behalf of the state of Georgia. It’s their public charge to do so.”
On the day of the alleged assault in Atlanta, Hill was with a group of about 30 people armed with tactical rifles and other weapons and gear. The main event at the Georgia Capitol was a religiously themed “Jericho March” protest over the 2020 election results. For Hill and his friends, it was an opportunity for recruitment.
“Who here is ready to swear into the American Three Percent militia? Everyone from 18 to 45 years old, according to the constitution, able bodied, can swear in right now,” one of Hill’s masked associates told a small crowd, having been handed a megaphone.
Chris Hill has been ramping up his in-person activity this year, according to Freddy Cruz, a research analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks militia and hate group activity. “He was very active protesting the Black Lives Matter movement. He was very vocal about pushing back against the at home orders, and of course, leading up to the presidential election. Hill loves to work the media. He loves to get attention,” said Cruz.
Hill, who calls himself “General BloodAgent,” leads a Georgia chapter of a loose, national network of The Three Percenters (“III%”) militia groups.
The name “stems from the idea that only three percent of the original colonists stood up to fight against the British Crown in order to gain freedom and liberty,” said Cruz. The groups began to form across the country around the same time as the Tea Party in 2008.
One of Hill’s former militia members, Alex Michael Ramos, is serving prison time for his involvement in beating a Black man in a parking lot during the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Cruz said video of the recent alleged attack in Atlanta does not come as a surprise, given that Hill and his group believe Antifa is an organized, domestic terrorist organization. “It’s a difficult situation because I think the more that these types of incidents go unreported, it sort of reinforces the type of behavior, and this idea that they can go out and just act however they want without any repercussions.”
This week, Hill posted a social media video saying one of his militia members has lost his job as a result of exposure following alleged attack.