Fairfax Executive Director Jack Kiriyal said, “We had some voters there who actually had to escort voters because we saw people who reach the edge of the parking lot, and shout this huge group of Trumpers And watch the screaming. ” The County Democratic Committee told The Daily Beast that the scene reminded them of volunteers who rescue anti-abortion protesters outside women’s health clinics.
So during Tuesday night, when President Donald Trump urged his supporters to take unsupervised action at polling places, Kiraly was reminded of what Fairfax County voters saw earlier this month.
During the debate, Trump called the far-flung paramilitary group The Proud Boys to “stand by” and urged fans to “go to the polls and watch very carefully”, a very rare event Trump has His political identity built into a cornerstone. Observers from far away, as well as officials like Kirali, also commented on the latest warning that a starring president could use his supporters to disrupt fair elections, or put the results of those elections in doubt.
The debate also raised alarm bells if the prospect of election-related violence was already hovering over the presidential race, as Trump effectively welcomed the authority of paramilitary force in the Republican Party.
“Two things that worried me the most were the comments about the proud boys, basically encouraging these armed militias who are loyal to them to show up at polling places,” said Kirali, and Then his comment says they are going to the supervisors. There. They are related. I think he was pushing those proud boys to go in. ”
The Proud Boys are distinctly violent right-wing groups with extensive connections with white supremacists and disturbing connections to more senior citizens. Trump’s comments about the group came after debater Chris Wallace asked him to denounce “white supremacists and right-wing militias”. Trump’s debate opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, specifically urged Trump to denounce the Proud Boys, who frequently appear in Portland, Philadelphia, and New York, where two members were charged with mass assault and other crimes in 2018 Was convicted of
Trump did not do this. “Proud boys, stand back and stand by,” he said. “But I will tell you that, someone has to do something about Antifa and the Left.”
On Wednesday, Trump attempted to retract the comments, claiming that he had no idea who Proud Boy was, and that he should stand down. (The current leader of the Proud Boys sat just behind Trump at the 2019 rally, and was Latino’s Florida director for Trump, just like last year.)
Even though Trump was telling the truth on Wednesday, his words have already activated around the election, according to University of Chicago history professor Kathleen Belle and author Bring Home to War: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America.
“He didn’t ask the proud boys to stand up. He told them to step back and stand up,” Bellew told The Daily Beast.
“It’s a call for readiness,” she explained. “Of course, which leads us to a set of questions about readiness. One of the things to understand about this movement is that obeying ‘retreat and standing’ does not mean following the person who gave that marching order, or what might happen after that. I think part of this concern is that he cannot ring the bell in such a situation.
The Proud Boys extensively redeemed Trump’s comments even before the debate was over, putting his words on memes and T-shirts. But the far-reaching euphoria over the possibility of presidential permission for election-related violence was not limited to one group.
Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, wrote a post-debate blog post reiterating Trump’s baseless claim that Democrats would attempt electoral fraud, and claimed that “Trump is ready for war on the streets.” (Anglins cannot personally participate in the said war on the streets as they have gone to AWOL in the past lawsuits and civil penalties to save millions.)
Far-interference with free elections has a long history, especially when aimed at black people, Bellew said.
“During the Reconstruction, after the Civil War, during the Civil Rights Movement, during the 1920s, attempts to prevent people from exercising their legal right to vote were a formidable cross for white supremacy and white power groups Were internal, ”she said. “This textbook is one of the central strategies.”
The history of election trickery also rests with less-fringe right groups. Devin Burghart, executive director of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, a social justice nonprofit, pointed to the so-called “Brooks Brothers riot” in late November 2000. Although Florida’s hottest Miami-Dade counties gathered to count electoral canvasser ballots, a mob of paid operatives fired at doors and windows, and punch a Democratic official, deliberately interfering with the counting.
Barhart said the riot was allegedly organized by GOP operative Roger Stone, who is now closely involved with the Proud Boys. The group has provided security for her, and in return she has recently supported one of them for office in Hawaii and appeared to participate in a Proud Boy initiation stunt.
“Given the connection of the Proud Boys to Trude Orbit and giving their advisors connections to the previous polling’s attention-grabbing efforts,” Burgert said, “certainly from groups like the Proud Boys for violence on Election Day Worryingly, there shouldn’t be. ” Be a clear winner on November 3 for possible violence and mediation in the electoral process after Election Day. ”
Contacted via text message about Trump’s Proud Boy comments, Stone responded with a paragraph-long rant about anti-fascism, and did not respond to a follow-up question.
The threat is not just from the Proud Boys, Barhart emphasized, but also from the large network of paramilitary groups that have voiced support for Trump. Some of those groups are not united militias, but are Trump supporters, such as a series of caravans in Oregon organized by a Trump supporters Facebook page.
Oregon events often begin with truck caravans and Trump flags – much like the Fairfax County incident in which Trump supporters were seen crossing through an early voting line.
“It’s not an election day now, it’s an election season,” Kirali said. “We need to be vigilant at all times, and we need to call on these instances of intimidating the voter, to encourage the voter in a way that the president did last night.
“We need to shame that stuff.”