State election officials and local health and school boards are the latest targets of threats and intimidation.
Die hard Trump supporters are becoming increasingly violent as the president continues his crusade to remain in power despite losing the presidential election.
President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud have been repeatedly shot down in courts across the country, but his rhetoric continues to encourage his most fervent supporters to take matters into their own hands.
The Republican Party of Arizona took to Twitter and twice called on its followers to be willing to “die for something” or “give up [your] life for this fight.”
Local officials of both political parties have been subject to an increasing number of threatening calls, emails, and online harassment. Some officials have encountered people outside their homes, protesting their stance on the election and public health measures.
Trump supporters, some armed with guns, gathered outside the home of Michigan’s secretary of state because of her role as Michigan’s Chief Elections Officer. Other officials have had their mail filled with racist letters and death threats. Even the parents of some officials have encountered harassment and hate mail.
And Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said last month that she and her family were threatened as Trump and his supporters questioned election results. A video showing a group of people standing outside her home chanting “We are watching you” was shared by 12 News.
“(The threats) are a symptom of a deeper problem in our state and country — the consistent and systematic undermining of trust in each other and our democratic process,” Hobbs wrote.
Lower profile officials have not been spared being subject to increasingly dangerous behavior. This week, a health board meeting in Idaho ended after about 15 minutes because protesters were gathered outside the health board office and board members’ homes. Board member Diana Lachiondo left the meeting early saying that protesters were outside her home, banging on the front door.
“My 12-year-old son is home by himself right now and there are protesters banging outside the door,” she said. “I’m going to go home and make sure he’s okay.”
Minutes later the other members of the board stopped the meeting entirely.
“I got a call from the mayor, and it sounds like the police, and she is requesting that we stop the meeting at this time because of the intense level of protesters in the parking lot and concern for police safety and staff safety as well as the protesters that are at some of our board members’ homes right now,” Central District Health Board Director Russ Duke said. The board then ended the meeting.
After the General Election, armed protesters gathered outside the Maricopa County elections center for days, defending the debunked claims that votes had been stolen from Trump. At one point, members of the 300-strong crowd attempted to storm the building where volunteer poll workers counted votes inside.
A few days later, protesters rallied outside the state Capitol to contest Biden’s win, accusing the media of conspiring to steal the election and calling the results a coup.”
to contest Joe Biden’s election as U.S. president, charging the media with conspiring to steal the election and calling the results a coup.
More demonstrations are planned for the days before the Electoral College will cast their votes to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory on Dec. 14. The Proud Boys, an all-male right-wing group, and the Women for America First are planning a pro-Trump rally at the Lincoln Memorial this weekend, according to the Washingtonian. Local organizations are already planning counter-protests.
Violence from right-wing organizations isn’t a new phenomenon and it’s been on the rise in recent years.
Data from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found that right-wing extremists and American white supremacists have killed at least 329 people in the last 26 year. There was also an increase in “hate incidents” in the United States in the days and months after Trump was elected in 2016, making it clear that the president’s rhetoric has an impact on that violence.
The increasing number of threats and acts of violence have some officials calling on the president to stop lying.
Gabriel Sterling an election official in Georgia made a fiery speech in Atlanta last week saying the threats “have to stop.”
“Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed,” Sterling said forcefully. “It’s not right. Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up. And if you take a position of leadership, show some.”