Cordie Williams, a chiropractor from Carlsbad, isn’t shy about posting his views on social media.
Known online as the Megaphone Marine and the founder 1776 Forever Free, Williams has Instagram and Twitter accounts with thousands of followers. He encouraged people to join him by going to Washinton, D.C., on Jan. 6 -- the day that pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol -- and since then, his publicly posted videos urge folks to attend weekly Constitution classes, attend protests, run for office and arm themselves.
“We’re all about freedom for all,” Williams told NBC 7 in a sit-down interview Tuesday morning. "You want to wear a mask? Great, just don’t tell me I have to. You want to vaccinate your kids? Great, just don’t tell me I have to. You want to get the COVID vaccine? Great, just don’t tell me I have to. And that’s really what this organization is about.”
Since May, Williams said, he has traveled the state and the country speaking before crowds - including at a speaking event in D.C. on Jan. 6.
“I’m just going to interview this amazing patriot,” Williams said in an Instagram video of himself interviewing a woman who says she witnessed the breach of the Capitol, though Williams said he was not among those who stormed the Capitol.
It seems that Williams went to Washington because of many of the same conspiracy theories that drew others to D.C. last week. He told NBC 7 that he wants to call for another, independent, transparent audit of the election results.
“I went to D.C. because I feel like there are some forces at play in this country right now that are, in my opinion, evil and demonic,” Williams told NBC 7, “and they’re stealing freedom away from some Americans and bringing up another group of Americans. So they’re outcasting one party and elevating another party or another group, and it’s all based on ideology.”
Nora Benavidez is the national policy director for PEN America, a nonprofit that works to educate people on freedom of expression and disinformation.
“I think it’s incredibly harmful,” Benavidez said of the language in William’s posts. “It’s misleading and harmful. I think the concern is: What will this inspire people to do?"
Benavidez said Williams’ language is so vague, it doesn't lead to imminent acts of lawlessness -- but, she said, that doesn’t mean it’s not potentially dangerous. In fact, it’s that ambiguity that Benavidez said makes these messages so appealing to a wide audience.
“It’s very seductive to hear someone saying, ‘I’m with you; we need to be together in this; we need to fight; we are the little one; we’re sort of the David, we have to go up against the Goliath, sort of monolithic thing that is censoring us,' ” Benavidez said. “That plays into all of the ways we feel like we can then challenge something bigger, we can come out on top, we need to be heard.”
Williams rejects the notion that his words could incite criminal acts.
“I believe in peaceful protesting,” Williams said, referring to what happened Jan. 6. “I believe they should have been on the front steps of the Capitol. The moment they breached, I don’t agree with that. Don’t agree with that. I never condone violence. Whoever did the violence should be arrested and prosecuted.”
That said, some of his recent posts have encouraged people to arm themselves and prepare for a war of sorts.
“It also is important that we learn how to use something that goes into your hand and dispenses a high-range thing called a bullet,” Williams said in an Instagram video posted three days after the insurrection at the nation’s Capitol. “And something that goes on your shoulder and dispenses a high range bullet.”
When asked about that statement Tuesday morning, Williams said he was simply expressing support for the Second Amendment.
“I think every American should take tactical training and should learn how to take care of themselves and guard their home,” Williams said.
In that same Instagram video, Williams goes on to say, “We are at war.”
When asked what he meant by that statement, Williams said he used the word “war” in a purely metaphorical sense.
“This is an ideological war,” Williams said on Tuesday. “It’s 100% an ideological war."
Williams insists this is about making sure voices are heard -- not about violence. For that reason, he said he does not plan to participate in anything in Sacramento at the state capital ahead of the inauguration.
Rather, Williams said, he is in the process of forming a political action committee and plans to speak at rallies several times a year across the U.S.