It's funny how even a non-U.S. citizen who can't vote can be caught up in the thrall of right-wing rhetoric, imaginary conspiracy plots and election lies, and obsessed with saving the country from "tyranny."
David DePape, who we knew was a Canadian citizen, was in fact in the U.S. illegally, having last crossed the border legally in 2008. Right-wing outlets seized on the idea that DePape might be "an illegal" almost immediately after his identity became known last week, but now the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has confirmed that he had not proper visa or green card. He entered the U.S. via Mexico, at the San Ysidro border crossing just south of San Diego on March 8, 2008. On the "temporary visitor" basis upon which he was admitted to the country, he would have legally been obligated to leave after six months.
"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lodged an immigration detainer on Canadian national David DePape with San Francisco County Jail, Nov. 1, following his Oct. 28 arrest," said DHS in an email to the Washington Post, which first reported the news late Wednesday.
It's unclear how, if at all, this will impact the prosecution of DePape for state and federal crimes, or his potential incarceration. Despite being a sanctuary state, as the Post points out, California has exceptions when it comes to deportation for people who commit violent crimes. But deportations are handled as civil matters after criminal prosecutions take place.
While he was born in British Columbia, it seems that DePape has spent the majority of his adult life, since his early 20s, in the Bay Area. Local nudist (she would say "body freedom") activist Gypsy Taub, who was romantically involved with DePape for some period of time and continue to allow him to live with her and her three children in Berkeley for extended periods of time in the last two decades, says she met DePape in Hawaii in 2000. She mentioned breaking off the relationship for about a year in 2009, and then permanently removing him from her home in 2015.
But when did he start believing that he was a U.S. citizen, and become so impassioned about the "lies" being told in Congress that he would break into the home of the Speaker of the House with the intent to "break her kneecaps"? Taub didn't talk about him voting, but she said DePape was a fan of Barack Obama at some point, and we know he had registered to vote with an affiliation with the Green Party. How did that turn, in the span of a few years, into someone who professes to be fighting "tyranny," making reference to the Revolutionary War and the British?
DePape, who is clearly a bit unstable, was on a "suicide mission" to save, in his imagination, a country he isn't even a citizen of.
The New York Times reports that DePape was registered to vote in San Francisco County from 2002 to 2009, and he only voted once, in 2002. He had apparently attested to being eligible to vote at the time.
DePape had a valid Social Security number, as the New York Post reports, which was apparently obtained via a work authorization back in Hawaii.
The best information so far about DePape's state of mind comes from his regular employer of the last six years, Frank Ciccarelli. A carpenter and furniture-maker by trade, Ciccarelli told the New York Times this week that he'd picked up DePape as a day laborer outside a lumber store, at a time when he was homeless and living "under a tree" in a Berkeley park. DePape "really worked out well" as an employee, Ciccarelli.
"I think I know him better than anyone does," Ciccarelli told the Times, explaining that he worked with DePape four or five days a week, often driving an hour or more together to a job.
Ciccarelli is also how DePape found his most recent living situation, in a converted garage in Richmond that belonged to Ciccarelli's friend.
As Ciccarelli explains it, this is when DePape became more radicalized and took his shift to the right. "Once he was housed, he had much more time to spend on his computer," Ciccarelli tells the Times. "Because when you’re living under a tree, you don’t have a plug."
Ciccarelli adds that DePape was mostly quiet and mild mannered, but “If you got him talking about politics, it was all over. Because he really believed in the whole MAGA, ‘Pizzagate,’ stolen election — you know, all of it, all the way down the line."
DePape told investigators that he had other targets for his quest, upon whom he also may have wanted to commit violence. They have not been named but we know they included a "local professor" and some state and federal political figures.
State Senator Scott Wiener, who as a member of the SF Board of Supervisors a decade ago passed a controversial ban on nudity that was a cause célèbre for Taub and DePape, remembers DePape being part of the protests at City Hall — though he was always clothed.
"So I'm aware of him. But he clearly, in recent years, got completely brainwashed by right-wing conspiracy theories, about anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, QAnon kind of stuff. And that is absolutely what led him to target Speaker Pelosi," Wiener said this week, speaking to ABC 7.
Top image: Photo courtesy of Frank Ciccarelli