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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

How the Suspect in the Pelosi Attack Became the Target of Online Hatred

David DePape retreated into solitude after the dissolution of a long-term relationship, became estranged from his children, and began working as a carpenter to keep a roof over his head after having spent some time living on the streets. He spent hours each day immersed in the virtual worlds of online gaming and chat rooms.

As a young lad, Mr. DePape had a fixation with video games, which, at some point in his adult life, seemed to mutate into something far more sinister. Mr. DePape is the person who is suspected of carrying out the vicious assault on the husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. According to his posts on his blog, the online harassment campaign known as Gamergate, which began in 2014 as a backlash against female critics of the gaming industry and included misogynistic attacks and death threats, served as a catalyst for his growing interest in right-wing conspiracy theories and the many rants against women that he posted on his blog. Gamergate began as a backlash against female critics of the gaming industry and included misogynistic attacks and death threats.

The investigation into Mr. DePape’s prolific online writings has led prosecutors to the conclusion that the attack was carried out for political reasons and that Mr. DePape intended to hold Ms. Pelosi as a hostage in order to question her. Ms. Pelosi is the person who is second in line to become president of the United States. In an era when disinformation and conspiracy theories are common, the assault, which took place fewer than two weeks before the midterm elections, sent shockwaves across the political landscape of the country and increased people’s worries of political violence.

For example, Steve Bannon, a provocateur who formerly oversaw the right-wing news outlet Breitbart News and served as an advisor to former President Donald J. Trump, attempted to make a connection between the outrage of the Gamergate community and the politics of Trumpism. This community is comprised of a group of people who are frequently isolated from one another and are predominantly white men.

In interviews, those who were closest to Mr. DePape at various points in his life described him as someone who was constantly on the fringe of things, someone who never wanted to stand out, and someone who was often afraid of talking to others.

Mr. DePape took a dark turn over the course of the last several years, in part because he became disillusioned after the end of his relationship. He began living beneath a tree in a park in Berkeley, telling people he was Jesus, and spending more and more time online.

Even back then, there were indications that Mr. DePape’s anti-government conspiracy theories, which he embraced in the time leading up to the assault on the Pelosi house, were a part of the couple’s existence together. The attack on the Pelosi residence was a direct result of Mr. DePape’s beliefs. Ms. Taub spread the idea on a public access television station that the terrorist attacks on September 11 were carried out by people inside the government.

After Mr. DePape moved out of the house he had previously occupied with Ms. Taub in 2015 — their romantic connection having ended years before — he resided for a period beneath a tree in a bay-front park in Berkeley that was popular among homeless people, and he stored his possessions in a storage locker. In 2016, he was employed by a carpenter named Frank Ciccarelli, who had seen Mr. DePape loitering outside a lumber shop and decided to engage him. Mr. DePape had been looking for employment.

The two men collaborated on several projects over the course of approximately six years, right up until Mr. DePape was taken into custody. During this time period, Mr. Ciccarelli assisted Mr. DePape in locating lodging, ultimately leading him to an apartment that was located in the garage of a friend. The address that was provided during the registration process for Mr. DePape’s blog is the same one that was provided for the apartment in Richmond, California.

Mr. Ciccarelli stated that he witnessed his friend’s descent in recent years into the deeper and darker reaches of the internet, becoming more isolated and falling captive to online conspiracy theories such as the claim that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent; QAnon, whose adherents believed that a cabal of Democratic paedophiles was working to undermine President Trump; and Pizzagate, which was a precursor to QAnon whose claim was that elite Democrats were running a child sex-

On carpentry jobs, Mr. Ciccarelli said, he would feed birds and talk to the squirrels, and he would occasionally tell Mr. Ciccarelli that he believed that he was living inside a computer simulation. Mr. Ciccarelli said this was one of his strangest behaviors.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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