Since Friday, Donald Trump, Jr. and many U.S. alt-right figures have been spreading #FreeTommy across social media in support of Tommy Robinson, a prominent far-right figure in the UK. Robinson was arrested and jailed Friday outside a high-profile, controversial trial in northern England.
According to Trump, Jr. and his cohort, Robinson is a victim of the far left media—a persecuted patriot whose free speech rights are being infringed upon. That, of course, is nonsense.
Here are the top six things you need to know about Tommy Robinson, the U.S. alt-right’s newest violent darling:
1. Tommy Robinson’s name isn’t Tommy Robinson, it’s Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.
Yaxley-Lennon uses someone else’s name – Tommy Robinson. We don’t really know why. Maybe he think it’s cooler? We don’t know. He goes by other names too (more on that below). But his name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, not the brand name he goes by in his videos.
2. He’s been sentenced to 13 months in jail for jeopardizing the case against 29 accused rapists and human traffickers.
Robinson was charged with contempt of court after he attempted to livestream the defendants walking into the courthouse. In the UK, there are strict restrictions during ongoing trials on what can be reported, to prevent prejudicing the jury.
Robinson ignored the restrictions—his second time doing so—and broadcast live on Facebook for nearly an hour. During his hour-long rant, he named defendants and the charges and details of the allegations they faced, as well as filmed defendants while confronting them outside court. His actions could potentially lead to a mistrial.
3. He founded a violent anti-Muslim group in the UK.
Yaxley-Lennon / Robinson, is one of the most high profile anti-Muslim bigots in the UK and has been central to the ‘Counter-Jihad’s’ efforts to spread their hate internationally. In June 2009 he co-founded the anti-Muslim English Defence League (EDL), building it into the premier street protest group within the far right.
His central role in the expansion of the EDL saw him lorded and emulated by counter-jihad activists across Europe and North America, with copycat foreign ‘Defence Leagues’ emerging with varied success. EDL protests were known for heavy drinking, abuse and outbreaks of violence. They required a heavy police presence.
4. In 2013, he was imprisoned for entering the United States illegally.
Robinson was jailed for 10 months after being convicted of using someone else’s passport to enter the United States while concealing a previous drug conviction. The US does not typically allow people to visit the country if they serious criminal convictions.
He entered the United States illegally using a passport of the name Andrew McMaster and returned on his own passport which bears the name Paul Harris.
5. His rap sheet is more than a decade long and filled with multiple violent crimes and financial fraud.
In July 2011 he was convicted for leading a public brawl involving 100 soccer fans. He received a 12-month community rehabilitation order and a three-year ban from soccer.
In November 2011 he was again convicted but narrowly avoided another custodial sentence, this time for assault for head-butting another EDL member at a demonstration. That same month he was also arrested following a protest on the rooftop of the FIFA headquarters in Zurich which resulted in him being detained for three days and fined £3000.
He served 12 months in prison for actual bodily harm for assaulting an off-duty police officer during a domestic incident in 2004. During the assault he kicked a police officer in the head.
In 2014 he was imprisoned for 18 months after being found guilty of mortgage fraud.
Tl;dr: Stephen Yaxley-Lennon is a violent criminal who has previously attacked police and who has a history of drug use. And this is the guy being lauded as a hero by the alt right and President Trump’s son?? Wow.