This is an excerpt from the chapter entitled "Civil War":
A Wave of White Vigilante Violence
“White vigilantes and far-right actors have shown up to oppose Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. at least 497 times this year, according to data collected by Alexander Reid Ross, a doctoral fellow at the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right. He started gathering data on May 27, two days after police in Minneapolis killed George Floyd, and continued through this week.
The dataset, which Ross shared with HuffPost, documents a staggering amount of violence directed at protesters by the far-right, including 64 cases of simple assault, 38 incidents of vigilantes driving cars into demonstrators, and nine times shots were fired at protesters.
All told, six protesters were hit by vigilante bullets in this summer’s violence. Three died from their wounds.
Ross’ dataset also includes 387 incidents of intimidation, such as people using racist slurs, making threats and brandishing firearms.
‘There just isn’t really anything to compare it to,’ Ross told HuffPost. ‘I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.’
The data — which Ross gathered from social media posts, news reports and the ACLED US Crisis Monitor with help from Political Research Associates and the the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights — includes some harrowing tales of violence.
A U.S. Army sergeant, who had previously posted tweets about targeting Black Lives Matter activists, shot and killed a protester in Austin, Texas.
Black Lives Matter protesters marching through a rural part of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, say a white man opened fire on them at night, striking one protester in the face.
A man in Iowa City, Iowa, allegedly drove his car into a crowd of protesters and, according to a criminal complaint, later justified the attack by telling police the protesters needed ‘an attitude adjustment.’
The steady drumbeat of such stories this summer has coincided with story after story of cops and national guardsmen openly supporting or collaborating with fascists and white vigilantes.
Ross said his dataset includes about two dozen incidents of vigilantes receiving approval or support from law enforcement. A sheriff in Arizona, for example, announced he would form a ‘civilian posse’ to help ‘suppress lawlessness’ during a time of ‘widespread unrest.’
In California, a sheriff’s deputy was spotted wearing a ‘III Percenters’ militia patch on his uniform while policing a protest. And in Portland, Oregon, cops let the neo-fascist gang the Proud Boys attack protesters in the streets.
Disturbing images also emerged of police cozying up to far-right activists: A cop in Georgia was photographed fist-bumping an armed militia member, and cops in Philadelphia posed for a friendly photo with vigilantes who roamed the city’s streets with baseball bats.
Still more stories emerged this summer of cops themselves relishing violence against protesters.
A police chief in Sioux Rapids, Iowa, was suspended for two weeks after writing a Facebook comment encouraging people to drive their cars through Black Lives Matter demonstrators.
‘HIT THE GAS AND HANG ON FOR THE SPEED BUMPS,’ he wrote.
And in Wilmington, North Carolina, three white police officers were fired after being caught on camera using racial slurs while discussing massacring Black protesters.
‘We are just going to go out and start slaughtering them fucking niggers,’ one officer said.
‘Wipe ’em off the fucking map,’ the same officer said. ‘That’ll put ’em back about four or five generations.’
A report published this week by former FBI agent Mike German, now a fellow at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, documented how police ties to ‘white supremacist groups or far-right militant activities’ have been uncovered in over a dozen states since 2000…
Nick Estes, a professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico and author of the book ‘Our History Is The Future,’ remembers listening to the police scanner earlier this summer when the gun-toting militia group New Mexico Civil Guard turned up to harass and attack anti-racist protesters in Albuquerque.
He said cops could be heard on the scanner referring to this group of vigilantes — founded by a neo-Nazi — as ‘heavily armed friendlies.’
A short time later, one of those ‘friendlies’ shot and badly injured an anti-racist protester...
What’s happening now, he added, is ‘an intensification of that kind of citizen policing’ in response to a growing tide of Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist organizing.
Steven Gardiner, a research analyst at Political Research Associates, a social justice think tank that monitors the far-right, said there has been a ‘tremendous increase’ in right-wing paramilitary activity this year.
It gained momentum, he said, during protests against lockdown measures meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Armed militias circled — and sometimes even entered — state Capitol buildings, showing the often hands-off approach with which governments often treat white vigilantes.
At Black Lives Matter protests following the police killing of Floyd, disparate paramilitary and vigilante groups — Boogaloo Bois, III Percenters, Oath Keepers, and white nationalists — became a regular fixture of right-wing counterprotests.
‘If you get counterprotesters showing up who are armed, cops are almost always facing towards the Black Lives Matter and racial justice protesters, not towards the armed counterprotesters,’ Gardiner said.
This, he argued, has created an atmosphere in which paramilitary groups feel emboldened.
‘Going forward, we need to seriously reconsider the permissiveness with which we are allowing armed paramilitaries to roam the streets of our nation’s towns and cities, as if this is normal,’ Gardiner said. ‘There’s nothing normal about this. We don’t want to be living in a war zone.” (Christoper Mathias, 2020)
What I have tried to capture in excerpts from the previous articles is that there are groups both on the far-right and others which have no true allegiance, that are trying to ignite America’s next civil war. Both these groups have figured out that the target most ripe for this type of national upheaval is race relations. Dylann Roof thought that the killing of black church members in several churches might start such a war. Kevin Piner, one of the three Wilmington, N.C. officers fired for using racial slurs, was accidentally being recorded when he “predicted Black Lives Matter protests would soon lead to civil war. ‘I’m ready,’ Piner told another officer, adding that he planned to buy an assault rifle.” (Elfrink, ‘We are just gonna go out and start slaughtering them’: Three cops fired after racist talk of killing black residents, 2020)
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