A Small Town Became the Center of a QAnon Storm. It’s Fighting Back

In response, dozens of people came to Bodegraven in the spring of 2021 to express their sympathy for the children they believed were murdered without evidence, leaving flowers along the long road leading from the road to the local cemetery. “I put these flowers in honor of Joost Knevel (hero of heroes!) and other victims of demonic abuse,” read A message left at the children’s graves, was later deleted. They signed off their messages with the hashtag #StopVanDissel.

“I was really angry,” said Ida Bromberg, describing how she felt after these guests left a teddy bear ornament on the grave of her father, who is buried in Bodegraven. “The idea that some of these lunatics went to his grave and they did all these things, it really came to me.”

Bodegraven’s plot caused ripples across the country. After his home address was leaked by Kat’s website, the Red Pill Journal, van Dissel was forced to use round-the-clock security. In October 2021, a man was arrest on suspicion of plotting to assassinate the prime minister after posting to a Telegram group affiliated with Red Pill Magazine, De Bataafse Republiek, which was later taken down by Telegram.

By May, the municipality of Bodegraven had used legal action to try to stop the wave of conspiracy that is engulfing the town. The mayor at the time, Christiaan van der Kamp, said he was worried the town was receiving attention that could lead to violence. “A man was beaten to death in Arnhem last year on a call called ‘hunting for prostitution’,” he speak Dutch newspaper ADVERTISEMENTadded that he doesn’t want to repeat that in Bodegraven.

Kat is arrest in July 2021 in Northern Ireland, where he currently lives and was eventually extradited to the Netherlands last year. Knevel, who is based in Spain, is also extradition in August 2021 to face charges of inciting violence and having sentenced in June 2022 to 15 months in prison. Raatgever, who released a video of him shouting to van Dissel that “child abuser” as he cycled past, is also sentenced up to 18 months in prison in June 2022. Bodegraven also sued the platforms the men used. The police forced the closure of two Telegram channels with a total of 13,000 members. And in September 2022, the city government also took Twitter to court, try-And failure—to force the platform to erase any remaining traces of the Bodegraven plot.

In Bodegraven, locals believe that the city’s positive response has helped bring life back to normal. “For me, it’s over,” said Bromberg, adding that she no longer thinks about the incident now that those responsible have been convicted. Local residents in the town say the same thing. “It’s as if it never happened,” said Manon von Agmond, pushing a stroller down the main street. Another resident, Remco Zwaan, said the whole thing is now just a funny story he tells his friends. Stefanie, who has lived in the town for two years but refuses to share her last name, agrees: “I think people have moved.

The cloud of conspiracy that enveloped Bodegraven may have dissipated, but not everyone is certain that this phase is over for the Netherlands. Daniël de Zeeuw, who sees QAnon as a super conspiracy legend who is particularly good at adapting to different countries, said: “QAnon is vague, inclusive and general. In the Netherlands, he describes QAnon as someone who finds ties to alternative, new-age subcultures who often post about food and health. “It’s a bit like a meme,” he added. “It’s a template that people can use and adapt to their own preferences or local context.”


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