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VERIFY: Is a neo-Nazi hate group planning an event in Spokane?

After a tweet from an anti-fascist account claimed a neo-Nazi group known as "The Base" was planning an event in Spokane, KREM 2 set out to Verify the claim.

SPOKANE, Wash. — KREM 2 is attempting to verify a tweet claiming that a neo-Nazi hate group called “The Base” is convening in Eastern Washington for an event. 

A tweet posted on the evening of Sunday, Aug. 4, reads, “The neo-Nazi group called ‘The Base’ is planning a 'hate camp' this month in Washington. Members are flying in from around the country to Spokane, WA this August to participate in the gathering.”

The tweet was posted by the Twitter handle @161EUG, an unverified account appearing to represent an Anti-fascist group in Eugene, Oregon. As of Tuesday night, the @161EUG tweet on “The Base” had been retweeted roughly 1,200 times.

Subsequent tweets claim that “The Base” started on Twitter, following attempts by the group's founder to network with neo-Nazi groups. The Antifa account claimed that the leader of "The Base," a New York man, had recently purchased land near Chewelah or Colville.

For this story, KREM reached out to the Spokane Police Department, the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office and the Southern Poverty Law Center regarding the tweet.

"We're definitely aware of it," said John O'Brien, a Spokane Police Department spokesperson, of the tweet. 

The event, however, was not slated to take place in either Spokane or the county, he added. O'Brien wasn't able to elaborate as to where the reported event associated with the tweet would be held or how SPD detectives were able to confirm that the event wasn't taking place in Spokane. 

Sgt. Terry Preuninger said police are unsure of when the group could fly into the airport, adding that it would contain a "small number" of extremists. He was not able to provide an estimate as to how many.

"Unless we determine a crime is being committed, we have to be cautious," he added. 

O'Brien added that the department takes reports and claims relating to hate groups very seriously. Based on statements from SPD, KREM is able to verify that an event referenced by the @161EUG tweet is reportedly taking place in Washington.

More specifics on the event, its size or legitimacy remain murky.

On Tuesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which documents hate groups in America, said that "The Base" isn't listed as a registered hate group by the nonprofit advocacy group.

"Our analysts have seen the tweet and are monitoring the supposed event," wrote SPLC spokesman Bob Hopkinson in an email to KREM.

A brief online search regarding "The Base" didn't yield much information about the group either. 

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Notably, however, the supposed hate group was the topic of a November 2018 article by Vice News. The Vice piece describes "The Base" as being a social network "geared toward partaking in terrorism." 

The article cites a secure online chatroom where "The Base" founder networks with various neo-Nazis, attempting to bring individuals together. 

"The network's vetting process serves to funnel committed extremists from around the internet into a group explicitly focused on providing users with terroristic skills, in order to produce real-world violence," wrote reporters Ben Makuch and Mack Lamoureux. 

The article describes the group's founder as a "self-proclaimed white nationalist."

The article doesn't contain any references to Spokane, Eastern Washington or Stevens County.

KREM also reached out to the Stevens County Sheriff's Office on Monday to ask about the tweet and its claims of "The Base" ties to Chewelah or Colville. When contacted again on Tuesday, a department staff member said that the agency didn't have anyone readily available to discuss the tweet. 

The Sheriff's Office anticipated commenting on the matter on Wednesday at the earliest. 

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