You may have been following the ongoing saga of a group of QAnon adherents who’ve gathered in Texas to await the return of John F. Kennedy and/or John F. Kennedy Jr. A splinter Q-group held that JFK Jr. would come out of hiding earlier this month, decades after faking his own death, and take his place as former President Donald Trump’s running mate for 2024. That reappearance didn’t work out, but the group is still in the Dallas area, holding out hope for an eventual return of some kind.
The event has provided plenty of schadenfreude for Q-skeptics and was the source of all sorts of online comedy for the last few weeks. But things have gone from funny-sad to bleak in Texas, where people appear to be throwing away their families, savings and whole entire lives away to this Q group.
“She left her children for this and doesn’t even care,” Katy Garner told VICE News. “[My sister] is missing birthdays and holidays for this. She truly believes this is all real and we are the crazy ones for trying to get her to come home. But she won’t. I don’t believe she will ever come back from this. We are in mourning.”
Garner’s sister has, according to her, given about $200,000 to the group and is on some sort of Q-approved COVID-19 prevention diet that includes drinking hydrogen peroxide solution and eating something called “bio pellets.” Her communications with family are being watched by the group, who are all prepared to see this through to its conclusion — whatever form it takes.
This group is led by a man named Michael Brian Protzman, known on the Q boards as Negative48. Protzman was an active member of the Q message boards who is now leading a Q offshoot — one of the first significant splits in the burgeoning QAnon conspiracy theory. He is now claiming to be a representative from God and was in a video conversation where one participant said that followers “ultimately… have to experience that physical death… let go… come out on the other side.”
In other words, while this group may have started off as the butt of social media jokes about zombie JFK, they appear to be morphing into something far more extreme and troubling. Caroline Orr Bueno is a behavioral scientist who studies rightwing radicalization, and she’s drawing comparisons between Protzman’s group and Matthew Coleman — a QAnon believer who allegedly killed his two children earlier this year, believing QAnon teachings had “enlightened” his mind.
Garner’s sister isn’t the only person expressing concern about their family members who’ve joined this group. VICE spoke with another person who said she was “very worried” about the safety of a friend who’d joined the group, adding that the friend’s husband was about to cancel her credit cards because he didn’t think he’d be able to pay his mortgage and continue to fund her trip to Texas. Another woman on Telegram said she was worried her fiance may be gone for good. “I keep asking him to come home, and he keeps saying something big is going to happen and he doesn’t want to miss it,” she wrote.
A recent Pew survey found that White Evangelicals are by far the demographic most likely to believe QAnon’s core principles like “there is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders,” “the government, media and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation” and “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” Pew found about 23 percent of White Evangelicals believed such tenants.