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Pennsylvania Patriot Coalition’s Bucks County Picnic Short on People, But Not on Extremism

Those in attendance included the John Birch Society, Moms for Liberty, the Proud Boys, Constitutional Sheriffs, Doug Mastriano, and Toni Shupe.
The main event: State Senator Doug Mastriano was keynote speaker. Photo by Zach D Roberts.

The Pennsylvania Patriot Coalition’s get-together in Quakertown, PA was supposed to be a lot bigger. Thunderstorms hit the Mid-Atlantic coastal areas hard – there was flooding in Delaware so bad that I hydroplaned by car driving up from Virginia. 

Bill Allen, President of Pennsylvania Integrity Network, one of the groups that organized Sunday’s event with the Patriot Coalition was not pleased with the turnout. The crowd was at its max, around 60 people, even counting the few $10 entry fee evaders that set up outside the fenced-in area. It seems that people were scared off by the Biblical rain that was happening all around the region. Bill wasn’t worried though,

“I said, God is going to bless us and we’re going to be without rain here today. Yes, we had drizzle this morning. Yes, they had heavy rain at four in the morning. That all came up from West Virginia. The rest of us sitting off the coast and eastern Jersey, they’re getting blasted. New England is going to get blasted. Liberals are going to get blasted with flooding – You understand? But we’re not getting blasted right here. We’re doing the work and we’re going to keep doing the work.”

It seems that this “Liberal journalist” was safe in Bill’s Ark, at the Quakertown Memorial Park listening. We were listening to the Right For Bucks band led by  Andy Meehan singing about everything from Hunter Biden masturbating, Comey’s corruption and to once again back to Hunter Biden’s genitals. It truly was a family show. 

The musical act was followed by a prayer by Bill Allen who asked God to anoint the speakers today to “deliver a message of hope and freedom that we can take our country back, our local politics in our state, that we can return it to the founders, the Constitution that they signed in Philadelphia.”

First up to speak was Toni Shupe, the co-founder of Audit The Vote PA which was launched to call for a “forensic audit of the 2020 election.”

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Shupe told her story on how she became political. Like many in the ‘election integrity’ movement it started with having a bit too much free time during COVID. She started reading extremist conspiracy books from the likes of G. Edward Griffin who is a AIDS denialist, a 9/11 Truther and a chemtrails conspiracist. Griffin is also a member of and writer for the John Birch Society (more on that later). 

Shupe also spoke of her reading books by David Barton, a right-wing religious revisionist historian. Barton is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist with anti-LGBTQ beliefs.

Barton’s teachings have, as the SPLC says, “found new life in a partnership with Rick Green,” the founder and president of Patriot Academy – which Shupe is now the NE Regional Director and a “constitution coach” with. The academy sells different DVDs and books that you can show at churches or more secular crowds that teach a “biblical citizenship.” One of the courses focuses heavily on the 2nd Amendment, (Laura Jedeed of The New Republic attended one). 

According to Shupe’s bio on the Patriot Academy’s page, after taking a six-week course she has taught “2000 students using the Constitution Alive & Biblical Citizenship curricula.”  

The Patriot Academy curriculum features interviews with David Barton, TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk, and even a talk from Left Behind: The Movie’s Kirk Cameron.

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Shupe ended with a prayer and a statement “…if God can use me, he can certainly use all of you. Not only can you use all of you, we need him to use all of you, but you have to answer the call.” 

It would become a theme for the day. 

Following up after Shupe was Congressional candidate David Winkler who only spoke for a short time but still managed to hit all the key points for this audience. COVID lockdowns were a bad thing, red flag laws are bad, and his opponent Madeleine Dean Cunnane is a “far left progressive Democrat who believes that she believes that she can erase women in our schools in the sense where she’s trying to have transgenders compete in our girls sports.”

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Winkler who identified himself as Black and Italian also made sure that people knew that he was pleased with the Supreme Court decision ending Affirmative Action, saying:

 “I am competing against a white liberal progressive woman and I would hate to think that she’s doing or thinking of me as I’m running based upon the color of my skin. No, I’m doing it because of my love of country.”

Finally, the main act, the keynote speaker – State Senator Doug Mastriano took the stage to God Bless America, walking through the crowd, shaking hands and hugging as he went. Mastriano was joined by his wife Rebbie, who shared the microphone in a clearly practiced back and forth.

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They brought everyone who was in the park – their fellow travelers – down memory lane. It was a low-key Trump move, talking people through the fight they all experienced together, the grievances and resentments, and reminding everyone that they took it from them. He hit all the key points, talking about in-person voting (their votes), Pittsburgh’s mail-in vote (the other people;s votes), and implied the election that he lost so badly was fixed. 

Like all the other speakers the Mastriano’s were on point here – emphasizing the importance of the coalition, they may not all agree on every point but there was a bigger cause to be fought for. They would win, as God was “protecting his anointed work” like he did in the story of Brigadier General Chamberlain and a Confederate soldier who decided not to shoot him, it was God’s hand. Mastriano rallied the crowd saying, “We’re in this together. Like Benjamin Franklin said, we either hang together, we hang separately. This movement’s hanging together.” 

Not exactly the rallying cry I would use for a political movement, but I’m also not a fan of cosplaying as Confederate soldiers like he is. 

With Mastriano’s speech done much of the crowd began packing up. There was still another hour but the crowd had seen their hero. The music came back on, with more Hunter Biden pornography talk and a final rallying call by Bill Allen to join the coalition. 

Bill Allen expressed to the remaining audience about how devoted the crowd must be, like him, he handed out flyers at his mothers wake and a wedding. 

The stage felt low-key in a lot of ways, lots of God talk but not the outright anti-trans bigotry that I’ve unfortunately come to expect after covering Moms for Liberty and CPAC conferences this year. This rally was organizing for a big tent of far right groups. 

The tent of course included a three-ring circus. I’ve been to my fare share of these sorts of rallies across the country and this was the first one that I witnessed The Proud Boys hosting their own sign up booth, including branded folding chairs.

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There were of course two different Moms for Liberty booths, one on either side entrance to the stage. Doug Mastriano had his own one, with tons of “Walk as Free People” stickers and pins. There was the MAGA booths selling teddy bears, t-shirts stickers and pins … and even Donald Trump shaped bottles of honey.

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All of that would not prepare me for the John Birch Society booth, where four different local chapter leaders stood chatting. A very nice woman sold me five dollars worth of JBS DVD’s, magazines and flyers (I collect these things, I know, I’m weird).

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I gathered my equipment and avoided Doug Mastriano’s security one more time, who had confronted me, checking my driver’s license if it matched the name I had said to someone previously. Ironically the ID check happened in front of a First Amendment booth. The nice gentleman at the booth defended the security, telling me that you never know who they might try to sneak in here.

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Picture of Zach D. Roberts

Zach D. Roberts

Zach D. Roberts is a freelance photojournalist who has covered protest and activism around the country. He covered the 2017 Unite the Right rally and is a Puffin Artist Grant Recipient. His film on voter suppression in Georgia, Vigilante: Vote Suppression Hitman will be released nationally on Nov. 2.

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