Updated: November 5, 2020, 12:30 PM ET
November 5, 2020, 12:30 PM ET
A broad array of right-wing groups, from well-funded FreedomWorks, Turning Point Action, and Tea Party Patriots, to the far right QAnon conspiracy network, are mobilizing “Stop the Steal” and “Protect the Vote” events on November 5-6, 2020. These calls-to-action are consistent with “STOP THE VOTE” directives from President Trump and a frenzied right-wing media sphere. Social justice and democracy groups committed to securing a fair and complete ballot count should take common sense security measures and assess local conditions when preparing public actions.
- Locations in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington, D.C. are at highest risk.
- Nevada and Arizona have extensive militia networks and a history of dangerous confrontation and assaults.
- Be aware law enforcement may seek mass-arrest opportunities to prevent or disrupt counter-protest assemblies, as they did in Minneapolis, MN on November 4. Police have been more passive with right-wing mobs and sometimes tacitly or even actively cooperate with paramilitaries.
- Temporary legal delays, as in Pennsylvania, may encourage larger demonstrations by pro-Trump groups.
- De-escalate vehicular confrontation: Vehicular assaults continue to be a significant threat to racial justice and pro-democracy protestors. There have been over a hundred documented attacks, and likely many more. In many cases, the car or truck does not try to drive straight through a protest. Rather, the driver makes an obnoxious or aggressive gesture near a protest group and then slows down or stops. At that point protestors, understandably upset by the threat of a vehicle assault, surround the vehicle. This is both extremely dangerous, and a set-up for the driver to injure or even kill a protestor and have it ruled self-defense, where the driver is “afraid for their life.” A surrounded driver may brandish or use a firearm or attempt to accelerate through the surrounding protestors.
- Ballot counting facilities should not be considered the only potential targets of right-wing mobilizations or violence. Houses or worship, state capitols, and social justice events could be among potential targets of interest for white nationalists.
October 31, 2020, 2:00 PM ET
On their national call, Thursday, October 29, the Oath Keepers national militia organizing group referred to the Protect the Results (PTR) event map (https://protecttheresults.com) as a primary source of “intel” on where they expected the “communist insurgency” to kick off. The map had by that point already been circulated on various militia channels dozens of times in the previous week. In other words, the PTR map of planned actions to defend the democratic process and demand every vote be counted is being interpreted by the far-right as a map of planned leftwing insurgency aimed at violent disruption of the United States and an effort to depose the current president. This is consistent with a statement made by Oath Keepers leader Steward Rhodes on InfoWars (October 27), in which he says his organization will be deploying to D.C. on Election Day to defend against the possibility of the Antifa flag being hung over the White House.
The escalation of mood-shaping rhetoric and propagation of such “intel” has generated a credible threat that pro-democracy events will be targeted and disrupted by far-right actors, potentially with violence. Advance confirmation of their targets is unlikely. Areas that have seen heightened far-right and paramilitary activity in the last four months are of particular concern. It is important not to be complacent.
Political Research Associates urges organizations planning mass public demonstrations to take concrete steps to protect participants.
Here are some suggestions:
- Avoid posting national maps of event locations;
- Focus on distributing event information through local channels;
- Make exact plans for event staging private and available only to registered individuals shortly before the beginning of the event;
- Be flexible and willing to change event locations, times, or dates if a credible, specific threat is discovered;
- Brief attendees on avoiding confrontation with far-right provocateurs and counter-protestors;
- Assign specific people to collect information describing, photographing, and documenting far-right actors.