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On the Ground With the QAnon Believers Who Flocked to Dallas for the Grand Return of JFK Jr.

Though the Kennedy scion failed to appear at Dealey Plaza this afternoon, some are hopeful he might make an appearance at a Rolling Stones concert later

Steven Monacelli

DALLAS — QAnon true believers gathered en masse on Tuesday morning in anticipation of the return of Camelot — namely, of John F. Kennedy, Jr., the lush-haired scion and former George publisher who was killed in a plane crash in 1999. The crowds chose to meet in Dealey Plaza and lined themselves around the large white “X” that marks the spot where his father, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in 1963. Dozens wore Tiffany Blue, a color associated with the Kennedy clan, as well as shirts that read “TRUMP/JFK JR 2020.” 

That John F. Kennedy, Jr., is set to return is a belief set forth by proponents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which postulates that Donald Trump is lying in wait to destroy a secret cabal of blood-drinking, child-sex-trafficking members of the liberal elite. Dozens of QAnon supporters started gathering in AT&T Discovery Plaza in downtown Dallas last night to commemorate the glorious return of JFK Jr. — a man who, again, it must be emphasized, has failed to convert oxygen into carbon dioxide for over two decades.

“Trump reinstated as 19th president calls up a new vice president, JFK Junior” wrote a prominent QAnon influencer with more than 250,000 followers on the encrypted messaging app Telegram. The influencer added that Trump’s reinstatement stems from the fact that “everything from 1871 was illegal and unconstitutional,” a reference to a convoluted far-right conspiracy theory aimed at invalidating Biden’s presidency by suggesting that an obscure law from the late-19th century renders every law passed and president elected since then as illegitimate. “Trump will step down. John will become President,” the post reads, adding that disgraced former general and QAnon celebrity Michael Flynn will become his vice president. The feverish fantasy concludes by claiming that Trump will become “1 of the 7 new Kings. Most likely the King of Kings,” a reference to a biblical passage in Revelations 17.

The renaissance of JFK Jr. is an increasingly popular cornerstone of the QAnon conspiracy theory, though it has historically been something of a fringe belief in the movement. The theory postulates that JFK Jr. has been in hiding for years and will eventually reveal himself as Trump’s running mate for the 2024 election, a belief that stems from a poster claiming to be JFK Jr. who contributed to an 8chan thread in 2018. Some proponents of the theory also believe that Vincent Fusca, a former sales manager in Pittsburgh, is secretly JFK Jr. in disguise, despite the fact that Fusca is inches shorter (and honestly, considerably less good-looking) than John F. Kennedy Jr. QAnon influencer Juan O. Savin has also been “suspected” to be JFK Jr. in “disguise.” Platforms like Etsy and Amazon have also been called out for selling merch promoting the idea that JFK Jr. is still alive and will return as Trump’s running mate, and many supporters at the Dealey Plaza event were photographed wearing such merch.

In recent months (and particularly in the wake of Trump’s defeat in November 2020, when QAnon leaders have been scrambling to maintain their relevancy), some prominent QAnon influencers have expanded on this lore, most notably Michael Brian Protzman, who also runs a popular Telegram channel. Protzman, who is based in Washington State and runs a demolition company, relies on an abstruse version of gematria, or numerology, to promote the idea that he is in direct contact with the Kennedy family (which he believes are direct descendants of Jesus Christ), and that they will make their triumphant return on Tuesday.

On his Telegram channel, Protzman has been posting videos and photographs of himself hobnobbing with QAnon supporters in Dealey Plaza, signing supporters’ T-shirts and wielding a trophy with the message “The Gematria General: God communicates in numbers and Trump does too.” “We are the storm … we’re the ones the devil comes to try and take down 1,000 years from now and a 1,000 years of peace, and he will have no effect, because we’re going from 3D to 5D,” Protzman said in an incomprehensible, rant-filled video posted on Telegram by a supporter, to murmurs of assent and raucous cheers.

On a cloudy morning in downtown Dallas, the conclave organized in part by Protzman drew hundreds to Dealey Plaza. One attendee recommended his Telegram chat by name, where Protzman shared updates on the event to his over two thousand followers. 

The expectation among some attendees was that JFK Jr. would reveal himself along with his father, JFK Sr., to great fanfare. “We’re expecting a parade,” said a woman named Ginny who had come all the way from Nebraska. “JFK is going to be here.” Ginny then went on to describe her beliefs that many dead celebrities are actually alive, are a part of a secret plan, and that there will be a big reveal later tonight at the Rolling Stones concert at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas. “Robin Williams was here the other day… Michael Jackson is high in the movement.”

Every attendee who was willing to chat appeared to sincerely believe that something big was going to happen. Many specifically mentioned the JFK theory. That was certainly the case for Mike Penny, who also is a bit of a QAnon influencer in his own right, having appeared in YouTube videos with Protzman.

“It’s the beginning and the end,” Penny told Rolling Stone. When asked when he was expecting to see JFK, he said “sometime today.” 

Several attendees mentioned 12:29 PM as the specific time they expected the deus ex machina, noting that it was the time that JFK was shot 58 years ago. But for whatever reason, no one explained why they didn’t choose to meet on the day JFK was shot, Nov. 22. Perhaps it was a typographical error. 

When 12:29 rolled around, the only thing that happened was a group recital of the Pledge of Allegiance. Still, the crowd stuck around for several hours, even as heavy rain started pouring down.  

In the end, the crowd shuffled away toward their hotels in downtown Dallas. But some were undeterred. In a Telegram chat dedicated to the event titled RESTORE HUMANITY, one Jeanette Neese made the case for faith.

“Well, do you have faith in our God or not?” Neese asked rhetorically, in reference to JFK’s notable absence. “I know I do and part of faith is continuing to have it, EVEN WHEN you can’t see.  No matter what, I think the majority of us know that something is happening. We can feel it!”  

This story has been updated to include original reporting from Dallas, Texas. 

From Rolling Stone US