Updated: November 9, 2020 with incidents through November 7, 2020
Political Research Associates (PRA), with input from our colleagues at the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR),
has been tracking incidents of far right and paramilitary interference with racial justice and police accountability protests since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Given the tensions surrounding the 2020 general elections, we have also started to track election-related instances of voter intimidation and violence. The purpose of the map is both to indicate geographic locations where such incidents have been most concentrated, and to allow for an informed understanding of the scope and severity of paramilitary and other far right acts, taking them seriously without exaggerating them.
The map registers only a subset of the incidents we are aware of—those for which we have the best evidence and that are most closely related to either racial justice protests or election-related incidents. We will add both more recent incidents and older incidents as we verify details. Also we intend to update this map frequently in the coming days, so check back often.
Key Findings. Note that an explanation of the various categories can be found in the Map Details section below.
- Total number of incidents tracked: 378
- Actor Type:
- MAGA or Affiliation Unknown/Mob: 52% (195)
- Militia: 22% (85)
- Boogaloo: 7% (27)
- Racist Reactionary: 7% (27)
- White Nationalist: 7% (26)
- Confederate: 5% (18)
- The largest category (65%) is for groups or individuals with no known affiliation to a particular militia or far right group, though they may have MAGA or Trump insignia or be wearing militia-style gear with no visible insignia or other indication of which specific organization.
- About 7% of the incidents recorded involved individuals or groups that wore Boogaloo-style clothing or insignia.
- Just under 6% of named groups were either III% or Oath Keepers.
- Proud Boys were about 4% of the total.
- The remaining 18% of groups were either named local militias such as the California State Militia, New Mexico Civil Guard, or the Texas Freedom Fighters, plus a smattering of named white nationalist and neo-confederate groups.
- Activism Type:
- Attending Claiming to Support: 4.4% (16)
- Election Related: 15% (58)
- Harassment/Counterprotest: 58% (226)
- Law Enforcement Complicity: 3% (11)
- Vehicular Assault: 2% (8)
- Violence or Threat of Violence: 15.6% (59)
- Number of States with Incidents: 47
- Top 5 States: California (38), Oregon (37), Washington (25), New York (22), Texas (21)
Explanation and Analysis
- The 378 total number of incidents represents less than half of the incidents PRA is tracking—many remain to be verified and added to the map. Analysis of the expanded data set is proportionately consistent with what is published here except as noted below.
- We will continue to update the map with both new incidents and older incidents for which documentation becomes available.
- The “attending protest claiming to support” racial justice or police accountability category is mostly limited to Boogaloo adherents and only a fraction of the Boogaloo. It has also all but disappeared since the earliest days of protests after the killing of George Floyd.
- Vehicular assaults are far more common than indicated in this version of the map. We are tracking close to 100 incidents and mainstream media reported over 100 by mid-summer.
- Complicity between far right actors and law enforcement agencies is often difficult to document—here we include only the most obvious cases. For a list of counter Sheriffs who are linked to one or another rightwing faction see Mapping Far-Right and Anti-Immigrant Movement Alignment with County Sheriffs.
Actor Types are grouped into six categories:
- MAGA or Affiliation Unknown/Mob, the largest category, refers to groups, individuals, or mobs that show up to counterprotest in racial justice space and/or to intimidate or harass voters. Individuals may have more specific affiliations, but there is not sufficient evidence to identify them more precisely. The most common indicators are red MAGA hats, Trump 2020 signs, and aggressive heckling of those they oppose, sometimes with racist, misogynist, or anti-LGBTQ slurs. As Election Day draws near, it can be increasingly difficult to tell MAGA-oriented groups from pro-Trump paramilitaries, as the former are often armed. A common tactic since the end of Summer 2020 has been caravans of Trump supports rolling through cities and towns with flags and Trump campaign materials, leading at times to confrontations with progressives.
- The militia category includes all regime-loyal, Trump-supporting armed groups with some kind of recognizable identity, linked to a name and various insignia. The two largest groups are the III% (Three Percepters) and the Oath Keepers, both of which have national membership, and focus on recruiting members with military and law enforcement experience. There are, however, dozens—perhaps hundreds—of local and state-level militias that may exist mostly as social media pages, but be mobilized in response to racial justice events. For a more detailed look at militia and paramilitary types see Paramilitaries at Your Protest: An Activist Field Guide to the Armed Far-Right.
- The Boogaloo, or Boogaloo Bois, is a very loose network of actors that originated online, but who have begun to show up at in-person protest actions in recent months. They are often recognizable by wearing tactical military-style gear and Hawaiian shirts. The “Boogaloo” is a code word for a new civil war, which they tend to see as inevitable, if not desirable. They have shown up in a variety of ways, including claiming support for police accountability and violence/threat.
- Proud Boys, who define themselves as “Western chauvinists” and consistently express misogynist views, claim to defend U.S. institutions from leftists and outside influences. In practice, they are best known for their street brawls with anti-fascists, anarchists, anti-racists, and others. They have shown up mostly in the counterprotest/harassment category.
- White nationalists include neonazis, ku klux klan, and other explicitly racist organizations that tend to be a small minority showing up at events organized and attended by MAGA or militia organizations. They can also show up as individuals and perpetrate violent acts such as the massacres at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston (2015) and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh (2018). It was also a white nationalist for the vehicular assault that resulted in the death of activist Heather Heyer at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville (2017).
- Confederate (neo-confederate) are identified by confederate battle flags and by membership in organizations oriented to preserving the heritage of the Old South, and particularly defending Confederate monuments. They appear in numbers mostly in the South.
Activism Types are also grouped into six categories:
- Harassment/counterprotest is the largest category, with 106 instances, and includes a variety of activities including verbal harassment, intimidation, those claiming to be there to protect property, prevent looting, or defend the First Amendment or engaged in the doxxing of protestors.
- Violence/threat, which includes only actual or attempted violence in or around the protest space or direct menacing, such as pointing a gun or other weapon at someone.
- Attended protest claiming support, includes mostly members of the Boogaloo faction, and only when they have shown through words, spoken or written, or through their actions, that they intend their presence to be in support of racial justice and police accountability, for example by carrying signs that say Black Lives Matter or Justice for George Floyd.
- Law enforcement complicity is a small category in the data with large implications and refers to law enforcement officials who indicate alignment with paramilitary or far-right groups, for example by wearing a III% insignia.
- Vehicular assault, referring to the use of cars and trucks to attack protestors or voters.
- Election Related incidents refer to efforts to harass or intimate voters either at or near polling locations or otherwise undermine the voting process.
Please find below a list of resources for understanding the far right in the context of the 2020 elections and beyond.