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Neo-Nazi Ex-Soldier Targets Drag Queen Story Hour in North Carolina

Jarrett William Smith
Image: Riley County Police Department

Previously, Jarrett William Smith was convicted of disturbing bomb-making instructions and was charged with encouraging the assassination of former presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke.

Cwnewser

Last month, a neo-Nazi known to the FBI menaced a North Carolina LGBTQ-friendly event.

A recent protest against a drag story hour in Sanford featured Jarrett William Smith, a former U.S. soldier with a neo-Nazi background, Raw Story reported. Smith’s presence at this event, where drag performers read stories to children, is part of a disturbing trend of far-right figures targeting LGBTQ+ events.

Related: Armed Ohio Neo-Nazis Waving Swastika Flags Target Drag Event Again

Smith, who lives in South Carolina, was identified at the protest wearing a skull mask and a shirt with Nazi symbols and references. His past includes charges of attempting to encourage the assassination of former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke and advocating for arson against an anti-fascist podcaster.

Smith, who served in the U.S. Army, was later convicted for distributing instructions on making bombs.

The event, which took place at a local yoga studio, aimed to provide a safe and inclusive space for children to enjoy Halloween-themed storytelling by drag performers. Smith was part of a group that marched to the event, joining a small gathering that included a local pastor, according to Raw Story. The protestors positioned themselves on the public sidewalk behind the venue.

The incident marks another escalation in anti-LGBTQ+ activities by individuals with extremist backgrounds.

A detailed case study by the Center for Development of Security Excellence provides further context to Smith’s troubling background. Smith joined the U.S. Army on June 12, 2017, and was later stationed in Texas at Fort Bliss. His military training included combat and tactical operations. The FBI first noticed Smith’s extremist activities in 2019 when he used his Facebook account to disseminate guidance on constructing Improvised Explosive Devices and expressed a desire to fight with a violent far-right group in Ukraine, according to the case study.

Smith’s online activities escalated after moving to Kansas, where he was stationed at Fort Riley. He discussed plans to target members of Antifa and spoke of destroying cell towers or local news stations. In August 2019, Smith provided an undercover investigator with instructions on making a vehicle bomb, highlighting the accessibility of the required components.

His arrest on September 20, 2019, came after he provided an FBI undercover agent with specific instructions for constructing an explosive device and creating improvised napalm.

Smith’s participation in the Sanford protest is an alarming indication of his continued involvement in extremist activities. His military background, coupled with his radical ideologies and knowledge of weaponry, presents a significant threat, especially to the LGBTQ+ community, which far-right extremists have increasingly targeted.

In August, The Advocatereported that violence has followed the growing animosity towards the LGBTQ+ community. This was tragically exemplified in an incident in Cedar Glen, Calif., where Laura Ann Carleton was fatally shot over a dispute involving a Pride flag at her shop. The shooter, identified as Travis Ikeguchi by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, had torn down a Pride flag and hurled homophobic slurs at Carleton before the shooting. The act was not only a heinous crime but also a stark reminder of the dangers faced by the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).