GOP's fake claims of 'stolen election' are doing real damage

2092
Advertisement

'From the inside looking out, it feels all very deranged,' a Philadelphia election official said.

After the networks called the presidential election for Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday, reports of extremist violence have emerged around the country as Trump continues to prop up his false narrative about a "stolen election."

On Sunday, approximately 100 Trump supporters gathered around the Nevada State Capitol making menacing threats, according to the Sierra Nevada Ally. The group of protesters included Proud Boys in full regalia, whom Trump famously told to "stand back and stand by" in September at the first presidential debate.

According to the outlet, counterprotesters claimed pro-Trump groups at the Capitol threatened their lives.

Advertisement

"They threatened to punch our teeth out. They threatened to kill us," one counterprotester told the Ally. "They threatened to stab us, all right here. It just happened right here. Little Proud Boys over there … Proud Boy wannabes or whatever."

Also on Sunday, demonstrators in Portland, Oregon allegedly attacked the Multnomah County Democrats' headquarters, shattering windows and tagging the building with expletive-laden anti-Biden graffiti saying "no presidents."

Some have suggested disgruntled leftists were to blame, but the Portland Police Bureau told Newsweek that law enforcement does not know who the culprits were.

Rachelle Dixon, vice-chair of the Multnomah County Democrats, told the outlet she suspects the attack was a "false flag" perpetrated by the alt-right.

On Saturday, Lang Holland, the police chief of Marshall, Arkansas, resigned after supposedly posting death threats to Democrats, claiming they stole the election.

"Death to all Marxist Democrats," he wrote on Parler, a Twitter alternative frequented by right-wing extremists. "Take no prisoners leave no survivors!!" 

The former police chief also shared a meme depicting prominent Democrats in prison jumpsuits. 

He captioned it: "I pray all those in that picture hang on the gallows and are drawn and quartered!!!! Anything less is not acceptable."

This followed the resignation of another police officer in Flomaton, Alabama, Capt. Scott Walden, who left his job last week after he posted on social media saying, "they need to line up ev1 of them and put a bullet in their skull for treason," following another user's comment that said, "The idiots that voted for Biden hated Trump enough to throw the country away. Thank the lying liberals and democrats news media."

Even before the election was called, anti-Biden violence was mounting nationwide, and mobs of Trump supporters swarmed facilities counting ballots.

A man was arrested Friday after threatening a mass shooting if Biden won the election. In a disturbing Instagram video, the suspect claimed, "At this point, like, if Biden gets in, I'm just going to do like a school shooter, just take out all these Democrats and a few pedophiles on the way out."

"If I go to hell, I'm taking these motherf—s with me," he said in the video that has since been taken down, but a Beverly Hills Courier posted a recording of it.

The FBI is investigating the man, with spokesperson Laura Eimiller saying in a statement on Friday: "The FBI is aware of the reported threats, and we're working with our partners. The subject is being evaluated by state officials. The federal government has not made any arrest nor filed charges at this time."

In another instance, two men alleged to be armed were arrested in Philadelphia on Thursday while heading to the city's convention center as poll workers there were counting votes.

Al Schmidt, one of three Philadelphia election commissioners, told CBS News over the weekend that "from the inside looking out, it feels all very deranged."

"At the end of the day, we are counting eligible votes cast by voters. The controversy surrounding it is something I don't understand. It's people making accusations that we wouldn't count those votes or people are adding fraudulent votes or just, coming up with, just, all sorts of crazy stuff," said Schmidt, a Republican.

He said his offices are receiving threatening calls, including one stating, "This is what the Second Amendment is for, people like us."

And the day before the election, just before Trump arrived in town for a rally, a Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was desecrated with pro-Trump slogans like "TRUMP" and "MAGA" spraypainted on headstones. 

Many experts predicted post-election violence in the United States following the Nov. 3 election. 

The International Crisis Group, a Belgian-based think tank focusing on political conflict prevention, issued a report days before the election warning that post-election violence was extremely likely. 

"The United States is a mature democracy, it has strong institutions and it hasn't faced the kinds of risks around elections that other countries that Crisis Group traditionally covers have faces," said Stephen Pomper, senior director for policy. "But then things changed."

The group cited several risk factors that have changed in the United States since Trump took office. These factors include an increasingly politically divided country, growing numbers of armed fringe political groups, an election that was certain to be contested, and a sitting leader who would likely refuse to leave office.

The report notes that Trump's "toxic rhetoric and willingness to court conflict to advance his personal interests (has) no precedent in modern U.S. history."

The Brookings Institute also predicted post-election violence a week before the election, blaming Trump for advancing a narrative of a rigged election, as well as a rapid increase in radicalized conservative and anarchist groups during the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to Brookings, there was a 60% growth between February and April of Facebook pages promoting political uprisings. And other fringe right-wing extremist groups besides the Proud Boys — like QAnon and the Oath Keepers — have hinted at violence if Trump were not reelected.

Facebook was forced to ban a Stop the Steal group amassing hundreds of thousands of members due to threats of violence against the left. 

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.