Two Weeks Later, QAnon Supporters Are Still Awaiting JFK Jr.’s Return at the Grassy Knoll

Two Weeks Later, QAnon Supporters Are Still Awaiting JFK Jr.’s Return at the Grassy Knoll
A QAnon follower at a rally for Donald Trump in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in August 2018. (Photo: Matt Rourke, AP)

One might think that after waiting around Dallas, Texas for weeks expecting JFK Jr. (a man who is dead) to emerge and give a surprise speech restoring Donald Trump to the presidency, one would simply conclude that JFK Jr. is dead and he’s not going to do that. That is not the case for QAnon supporters.

For the uninitiated, QAnon is less a coherent set of beliefs than an amalgamation of bigots, rubes, and hardcore evangelical Christians convinced that Trump is secretly waging a global war against a Democratic/Hollywood camarilla of Satanic pedophiles.

Earlier this month, hundreds of devotees of the arcane conspiracy theory showed up at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, which contains the grassy knoll near where President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in 1963. There they waited for JFK Jr., who they believe faked his death with his spouse and sister-in-law in a 1999 plane crash to avoid being assassinated by the evil cabal. The story goes that the Kennedys then waited for their moment to return and do… something. Depending on which QAnon person you asked, you might hear that JFK Jr. would return to run as Trump’s vice presidential candidate in 2024, or that he would be making an appearance alongside his also-dead dad to proclaim Trump the “King of Kings.” (Don’t think too hard about it, Oswald did, and look where that got him.)

JFK Jr., who it feels rather pointless to continue pointing out is dead, remained so. That apparently hasn’t deterred the QAnon types from returning, according to Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer, who observed a crowd of “hundreds of QAnon supporters” returning to the plaza on Monday night:

Many of the QAnon supporters who showed up to Dealey Plaza earlier on Nov. 1 went there on the word of Michael Brian Protzman, better known as Negative48, a conspiracy theorist with around 100,000 followers on the messaging platform Telegram. Protzman, according to Vice, runs a demolition company, is a rabid anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, and has a cult-like following in one segment of the sprawling QAnon community. He predicted the date of JFK’s return using his own bastardized version of gematria, a Jewish numerology system of assigning numerical values associated with various spiritual or mystical meanings to names, phrases, or words; Protzman uses his version of this system to cook Bible passages into QAnon-friendly prophecies.

Protzman also promotes his own website featuring dubious foreign exchange schemes to his followers, such as investing in the Vietnamese dong or the Iraqi dinar with the promise they will accrue in value in the future. The idea that the Iraqi dinar will generate untold wealth for its holders (often referred to as the “Dinar scam,”) is linked to a prediction popular with some conspiracy theories that Trump will revalue the Iraqi dinar to pre-Gulf War levels as a special reward for his supporters. As the dinar is worth $US0.00068 dollars as of today, and it was worth over $US3 (A$4) before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the idea goes that dinar holders will become fantastically rich overnight.

The QAnon community is a huge labyrinth populated by various warring sub-factions, a lot of whom have either retained enough connection to reality to be credulous of Protzman’s claims or are at least concerned that the optics of the situation could turn off new converts. At least one other QAnon influencer came painfully close to self-awareness, slamming Negative48 as making “our entire movement look unbelievably dumb, and naive” as the Dallas rally “totally weirds out any ‘new eyes’ that may want to explore what it’s all about by making us all look like crazies.”

Vice separately reported many in the initial group of hundreds appear to have spent a full two weeks in the city because Protzman switched to claiming that JFK’s reappearance would be based on the Julian calendar (an archaic Roman calendar notably still used in parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church, other branches of Christianity, and as the traditional agricultural calendar of Berbers in the Maghreb, but is otherwise mostly of scholarly interest). One person who identified themselves to Vice as a former Protzman follower said they had witnessed children asleep on the ground at the initial gathering.

When JFK Jr. failed to return from the grave for the Nov. 1 rally, Protzman led the crowd to a Rolling Stones concert in Dallas, where he claimed that various band members had been replaced by Michael Jackson, JFK Jr., and Prince in disguise, with one backup singer actually being the late R&B singer Aaliyah. What any of those people have to do with QAnon, beyond the movement’s general obsession with celebrity and the pomp and circumstance of history, is unclear. On Telegram, some of Protzman’s followers have discussed founding a permanent compound in or near Dallas to await JFK Jr.’s return.

As of press time, JFK Jr. remains dead, not that it matters to these people. A glance at Protzman’s Telegram channel showed that as his followers gathered at the park last night, he was advertising t-shirts.