'#OperationBlockTheBus': Inside the Pro-Trump FB Group Where Biden Bus Convoy Was Organized

Activity in the private Facebook Group included pro-QAnon messages, cheering on the idea to "block" a Biden-Harris campaign bus, and talk of being armed with guns.

Published Nov 2, 2020

Image Via Facebook

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On Oct. 30, 2020, a convoy of pickup trucks flying flags in support of U.S. President Donald Trump followed and surrounded a Biden-Harris presidential campaign bus on Interstate 35 in Texas. Viral video showed an apparent collision involving a white SUV that was accompanying the bus and a dark-colored pickup truck flying Trump flags. Days after the incident, Snopes reported on the facts of what happened on the road that day, as well as news that the FBI was investigating. New evidence has come to light that answers some questions but raises new ones.

Alamo City Trump Train is one of the Facebook Groups where the Trump-supporting, pickup-truck convoy was organized. Inside the private group on Oct. 30, a member posted "#OperationBlockTheBus RN," with "RN" meaning "right now," as it was the same afternoon as the incident.

This post referring to blocking the campaign bus of Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, was endorsed with 142 reactions, including likes, laughing emojis, or love hearts. "I LOVE IT!!!!," said one commenter. "This is awesome," said another. Other comments included: "Great job!," "GOOD!," "Love it," "This is fucking hilarious," and "Awesome."

In our study of the private group, we noted that it is littered with activity tied to the dangerous conspiracy theory known as QAnon. This goes against Facebook's policies. On Oct. 6, Facebook announced:

Starting today, we will remove any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content. This is an update from the initial policy in August that removed Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with QAnon when they discussed potential violence while imposing a series of restrictions to limit the reach of other Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts associated with the movement. Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts that represent an identified Militarized Social Movement are already prohibited. And we will continue to disable the profiles of admins who manage Pages and Groups removed for violating this policy, as we began doing in August.

Mentions of QAnon abound inside the Alamo City Trump Train Facebook Group. For example, in one post a message purportedly from "Q" was posted as a screenshot, and a group member replied: "WWG1WGA," referring to the QAnon slogan Where We Go One We Go All. Both the comment and reply were liked and loved by members. One person even reacted with the new "care" reaction.

"WWG1WGA" is mentioned in several posts. One post referenced the NFL with the hashtag "#WWG1WGA." Another post showed multiple members introducing at least four other group members to QAnon, including the phrase "WWG1WGA," as well as the concept of QAnon, all on Facebook's platform in a private group just days from Election Day.

QAnon signage and flags were also a common sight at Alamo City Trump Train events, including in the group's YouTube videos.

One group member made a new post on Oct. 31, questioning other news outlets that said the Trump supporters were "armed." A group member responded: "Yep we are armed and dangerous," including an American flag emoji with the comment. Another remarked: "It's Texas. Everyone is carrying!" In the same post, a commenter noted: "Cause it's Texas and we don't fuck around, we are always armed!!!" Other comments also included members who talked of being armed. One member said: "We are," referring to being armed, and someone responded, "me too," while a third person said: "Exactly we are."

Following the Oct. 30 incident, one group member who claimed she wasn't involved in the Texas incident posted a phone number to the Group and said "bomb her phone," referring to the idea of coordinating text messages and calls to go off on the phone (the member claimed some people had been harassing her about the Texas incident). We have censored personally identifiable information below.

The same group member then posted another phone number, and commenters in the group organized to find names and locations associated with the numbers.

In an extended video found in the Facebook Group, a dark-colored truck with Trump flags that clashed with the white SUV can be seen speeding up to tailgate the bus so that the SUV (which was accompanying the bus) could not get behind the bus. The white truck in front of the white SUV then appears to slow down, causing the white SUV to brake.

The white SUV appeared to be damaged in the incident. As pointed out in our earlier fact check, the SUV appeared to be over the highway road line. However, another angle in a video reposted by NowThis (beginning at 1:20) revealed more of what happened. The bus appeared to be changing lanes to the right lane. The SUV then attempted to stay with the bus, but the dark-colored truck sped up and braked behind the bus so as to not allow the white SUV over. Brake lights are visible on the dark-colored truck at the 1:24 mark in the NowThis video, just before the shot changes.

The Facebook Group was created in early September, and its member count grew above 4,000 on the night before Election Day.

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