Conservative Group Protests Outside Home of Henrico County Manager


Ron Hedlund may not be a well-known name in the area, but his actions are extremely visible. With a large sign that says “FUCK BIDEN” and a custom-made wind dancer, Hedlund frequents heavy traffic areas, trying to elicit reactions. Such reactions often escalate into confrontations. An instance occurred on Veteran’s Day in 2021 when Hedlund parked his truck with a large sign, provoking a veteran attending a service to jump into the bed of the truck to cover the sign. Both Hedlund and the veteran were detained and charged. Hedlund has also staged other tactless protests, like funeral of former Congressman Donald McEachin.

Hedlund, a conservative activist, has been a part of the Republican Party for a while. At one point, he was the chairman of the 7th Congressional District on the Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee. That time has passed, and he now finds himself on the outskirts of the party. He spends his spare time holding small protests, often alone or with a handful of friends.

One such friend is Shaun Porter, who lives in Maryland and has been nicknamed “the Neighbor from Hell” due to his protests against his neighbor. Porter and Hedlund started a friendship that extended onto YouTube, where they both posted videos of interactions with the police and people upset with Porter and Hedlund’s signs. This dynamic changed last month when Hedlund’s YouTube account, Ron Benghazi, was banned. Prior to being banned, Hedlund had over 10,000 subscribers. Currently, Shaun Porter has over 107,000 subscribers.

The popularity of these channels stems from a community referred to as First Amendment Auditors. However, this community also deems people who build large followings by being disruptive and confrontational as “frauditors.” Hedlund began posting his videos from a new account, The Benghazi Rabbit, which he shares with William Barthel, who wears a white rabbit costume while demonstrating publicly. The account currently has over 21,000 subscribers. The account shared a video of Hedlund being served a protective order on May 11th and later uploaded a video of Barthel receiving a protective order. Both were issued by Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas.

Hedlund had been targeting the county manager, even holding protests outside Vithoulkas’ home. These protests included videos uploaded to YouTube that revealed Vithoulkas’ home address. Hedlund and Barthel are due in court on May 25th to contest the protective orders. Hedlund mentioned in a video that he has received legal aid from the Virginia Citizens Defense League and the advice of Philip Van Cleave. Now both of them are unable to go within 1,000 feet of Vithoulkas’ home, a role filled by Brandon Howard.

Howard is the President of Right To Bear Arms Virginia. He has held similar protests, like when protested outside the home of Virginia House of Delegates member Mark Levine. Howard also held signs by highway overpasses, which resulted in his detainment and a settlement with the settlement with the city of Hopewell.

Following Hedlund receiving a protective order, Howard announced that he would be holding a protest outside Vithoulkas’ home. Hedlund promoted Howard’s protest while out of the state. Howard staged the protest on Sunday, May 14th, Mother’s Day. From Howard’s own video, it seems that only three people attended, including Howard. However, at least four Henrico Police officers were present.

Goad Gatsby

Goad Gatsby

A journalist from Richmond and contributor on Open Source RVA on WRIR 97.3FM.

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