Right-wingers continue to be arrested for violence against Biden supporters and at BLM protests
Trump and sycophants ramp up the violence against Biden supporters and at BLM protests, claim election was stolen from them
This story was updated on Nov. 9, 2020.
Violence at political protests has long been inflamed by provocateurs, including by those who seek to infiltrate the demonstrations and cause violence to make the cause look bad. That happened in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the anti-war demonstrations of the 1960s, and the anti-nuclear protests of the 1980s, among others.
In the present case, Donald Trump has continually claimed the leftist-anarchist network Antifa is behind the initial burning of buildings and other violence in protests over police killings of African Americans. Trump has claimed Antifa was a terrorist organization, wrongly and cynically saying the largely anarchistic movement that has existed in some form since at least the 1970s was operated by Democrats.
But it’s more likely that those who have nothing to do with Antifa — especially far-right Trump supporters — have been doing much of the violence at protests and other places, according to numerous media reports. And after Democrat Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, “Sore Loserman” Trump and sycophants escalated calls for violence and even a “civil war,” claiming that the election was stolen from Trump without presenting any evidence.
Here are a few of many incidents:
- On Nov. 5, former Trump campaign leader and White House adviser Steve Bannon said that Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray should be beheaded and have their heads placed on pikes in public outside the White House as a “warning to federal bureaucrats. You either get with the program or you are gone.” Twitter permanently suspended Bannon’s account, and he faces federal fraud charges related to a wall fundraising scheme.
- On Oct. 31, Trump supporters in vehicles reportedly tried to run a Biden campaign bus off a highway in Texas.
- On Oct. 8, some 13 members of right-wing, Trump-supporting militias were arrested for plotting to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to help incite a civil war.
- On Oct. 28, a member of the far-right, Trump-supporting Proud Boys was arrested in North Dakota for threatening to bomb a polling site.
- During protests of another police shooting in which James Blake was shot seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wis., in late August, 17-year-old Trump supporter Kyle Rittenhouse reportedly killed two BLM protesters.
- In June, two members of the far-right “boogaloo boys,” whose members wear Hawaiian shirts while reportedly plotting a civil war, were arrested on rioting charges during a protest in Columbia, S.C. One was a paramedic who was subsequently fired.
- In late May, Matthew Lee Rupert of Galesburg, Ill, reportedly filmed himself setting a Minneapolis building on fire and taking some items from a store. He made social media posts in support of Trump and against police.
- Also in late May, three suspected boogaloo members who plotted to cause violence at protests in Las Vegas were arrested. Trump AG Bill Barr declined to address in a news conference June 4.
There are indications that these events are not just impromptu actions, but part of a loosely coordinated campaign by far-right groups. Media reports have documented that a white supremacist channel on the messaging app Telegram encouraged followers to commit violence during George Floyd protests, according to an internal Department of Homeland Security intelligence note.
A Twitter account claiming to be from Antifa that advocated violence was actually run by the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, according to an NBC report.
That would fit a pattern in which these white supremacist groups want a kind of war to help further their goals of chaos, fear, and division. Graffiti alluding to a race war has been found in cities such as Baltimore. Groups such as the Three Percenters are growing in popularity.
Studies show that right-wing extremist groups are much more violent than left-wing ones. For instance, 90 percent of the extremist-related murders in the US in 2019 were linked to right-wing extremists, according to an Anti-Defamation League study. Between 2010 and 2016, about 35 percent of terrorist attacks in the United States were carried out by right-wing extremists ,compared with 12 percent by left-wing or environmentalist extremists, according to a University of Maryland-led consortium.
What to do about this?
It’s clear that there is a somewhat organized campaign by right-wingers, likely aided by social media and the Internet, to sow discord at BLM protests and blame the mess on BLM, and in many people’s minds, Democrats. While that’s unfair, that’s dirty politics as it is played. Trump, the narcissistic fascist apprentice, plays that game more intensely than most.
Part of the burning and other violence is likely being done by some frustrated locals, especially when they get run over, tear gassed, and pushed down by police. Some of the property destruction is probably done by Antifa people or those on the left, such as the guy in a joker mask arrested in Chicago in connection with a police car being set ablaze.
In addition, videos have shown police engaging in apparent unprovoked violence, such as one pushing down an old man with a cane. Numerous protests have been met with right wingers carrying assault weapons.
The violence erupting in cities across the country seems to fit a pattern that some on the extreme right want chaos. Trump and his supporters feed on chaos and fear, so this plays into their hands.
Trump and Barr upped the ante on June 1 by authorizing the use of tear gas and rubber bullets to clear out peaceful protesters by the White House so Trump could stage a photo op by a historic church. The authoritative action was done without warning protesters to leave first, and after Trump consulted with Putin. Trump also authorized National Guard helicopters to fly low over protesters and cause tree branches to fall on them.
Since then, the tactics have gotten worse with Trump and Barr’s secret police and right-wing militias clashing with largely peaceful protesters in D.C., Portland, and other cities. Incidents slowed as the election neared, then threatened to escalate again as Trump calls for violence over the election.
In 1933, Hitler used the burning of the Reichstag to consolidate his power. Some historians believe the Nazis themselves set that fire to use it to seize control, though they blamed a Dutch worker with communist ties.
The election of Biden can stall Trumpism, but the movement could go more underground and rise suddenly in the form of candidates who might be as bad as Trump. For instance, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has ties to the wacko, far-right conspiratorial group QAnon, was elected as a Congress rep from Northwest Georgia in November.
As a mid-December date to certify the Electoral College results looms, it remains to be seen if Trump can get a court to rule in his favor to overturn election results. If not, Republicans might try other measures. Those include getting Republican-led legislatures in states such as Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia to replace Democratic electors with Republican ones, or convince current electors to vote against a state’s popular results, resulting in a political coup.
While some say the likelihood of such a coup succeeding is tiny, others note that few thought Trump could succeed in eroding American institutions in a relatively short time.