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Trump Supporters Terrorize Opponents in Richmond and Across the US

In the days leading up to the U.S. presidential election, after a summer of anti-racist protest and brutal state response and under a president who has not committed to a peaceful transfer of power, there is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Trump supporters have ramped up efforts to terrorize the opposition, shouting at voters, preventing rallies, and shooting into a crowd in Virginia.

Rebecca Margolies

November 2, 2020
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Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal

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With only a day left until the United States presidential election, fears and uncertainties about the outcome and aftermath have reached a fever pitch. While it is certain that a racist capitalist rapist will win the presidency, other things are less certain. If Biden should win, will this make any discernible difference at all on policies surrounding COVID response, climate change, policing, immigration, and more? Will Trump actually concede and leave office should he lose? Most immediately, in either outcome, will white supremacist violence— which is already being committed by police and their racist vigilante allies— erupt even further?

The possibility of post-election violence has been on the minds of many on the left (and, of course, the far right) for a long time now. Even many in the mainstream have been concerned, since Trump has repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. The issue surfaced again during the first presidential debate, when Trump was asked to condemn white supremacist vigilante groups, he said, “Proud Boys — stand back and stand by.” While Trump’s spokespeople quickly said that he meant the Proud Boys should stop what they’re doing, members of the violent, racist group celebrated this as support from the presidency and said they were already seeing an increase in recruitment. 

In the run up to the election, as voters in many states engage in early voting, Trump supporters have landed on the threatening tactic of driving caravans of cars, often flying Trump, American, and Blue Lives Matter flags, through predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods, near early voting sites, and by rallies for Democrats. This has led to voters being intimidated and campaign events being cancelled. In Texas, one such caravan surrounded a Biden campaign bus. In response, Trump engaged in his favorite activity of tacitly encouraging rightwing violence and raising the spectre of left instigation. He tweeted, “In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong. Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA, who run around burning down our Democrat run cities and hurting our people!” His spokespeople, doubled down on this, saying people should be “more concerned with downtown Washington businesses having to board up their windows in anticipation of lawless, violent Biden supporters rioting and looting on Tuesday night.” 

Another group halted traffic near New York City for several hours. Amber Allen-Peirson, a resident of a neighborhood near San Francisco that was the target of yet another one of these caravans, told the San Francisco Chronicle that it “felt like local terrorism. […] If this is what is happening on November 1st, then what is going to happen on the 3rd or 4th? It makes me scared of what we can expect moving forward.”

Most terrifying was the caravan on Sunday in Richmond, Virginia, which drove to the site of a soon-to-be removed monument to racist loser Robert E. Lee. There, the Trump supporters pepper sprayed opponents, attempted— in what has become a favorite move of rightwing terrorists— to run them over, and shot into the crowd, striking several vehicles. Luckily, no one was killed. 

Reportedly in response to these threats, there has been increased police presence at many poll sites across the United States. However, given the long history of deep connections between the police and far-right militias, not to mention their ferocious response to anti-brutality protests this summer and their ongoing murders of Black people, a law enforcement presence is not particularly comforting to many voters and, in fact, adds to the fear. 

While the United States is not and has never been a democracy, and while socialists know that neither outcome of this election will make life better for the working class and oppressed communities, this level of widespread voter intimidation should still appall, anger, and galvanize us to action.

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