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Oct 31, 20

As the Far-Right Escalates Calls for Violence & Trump for a Coup; Police & National Guard Deploy Against Protests

In the face of massive early voter turnout and a flood of mail-in ballots, Trump, in a last ditch effort, is continuing to signal that he will refuse to accept the outcome of the election; falling back on the combined power of the supreme court, the repressive power of the police and National Guard against protesters, and violent far-Right groups on the streets engaging in voter suppression and intimidation. Trump and his supporters have also once again started to float the idea of invoking the Insurrection Act; which would allow Trump to unleash the military on American civilians along with a flood of National Guard, DHS agents, and riot police: forces which are already being mobilized as we speak.

As Patrick Martin wrote:

[T]he Trump campaign is seeking to disqualify as many of the mail ballots and early in-person votes as possible, through bogus claims of fraud. These efforts have the backing of the right-wing majority on the US Supreme Court, as demonstrated by Tuesday’s decision to strike down a lower court decision allowing the state of Wisconsin to count mail ballots arriving as late as nine days after November 3 as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. Counting these late-arriving ballots is an effort to offset the deliberate slowing of the mail by the US Postal Service under the direction of Trump crony and Republican fundraiser Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general.

In supporting this outrageous and reactionary ruling, Justice Brett Kavanaugh cited the 2000 court decision in Bush v. Gore, the 5–4 ruling that awarded Florida’s electoral votes and the presidency to Republican George W. Bush…a signal that the right-wing majority on the court will do everything in its power to award the 2020 election to Donald Trump.

Across the US, Republicans are attempting to do everything from reducing the number of ballot drop boxes to limiting the amount of time allowed by poll workers to count the votes. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a material force is coming together; melding both the Republican legal infrastructure of hundreds of lawyers which will aid Trump in his attempt to nullify the votes of tens of millions of people, along with the brutal power of the police against protesters, and far-Right auxiliary forces which will operate on the streets to intimidate voters by creating an atmosphere of potential violence.

This building up of repression has come at the same time as a string of arrests of far-Right, militia, and neo-Nazi groups plotting various acts of murder and violence. While news of the plot by Michigan militia members has made major news, less known is the Proud Boy in North Dakota who threatened to blow up a polling station, a police officer in Phoenix, AZ who threatened to murder the local Democratic Major, and the GOP activist who conspired with militias to kidnap the Governor of Ohio. Meanwhile far-Right militia groups like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percents have publicly stated they will organize armed demonstrations at the polls; engaging in violence if necessary.

Unsurprisingly however, the State isn’t interested in the actual threat of far-Right violence. Instead, it’s focused on putting down protests that may arise if Trump attempts to steal the election: “We have teams ready to go as needed,” said Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of the Homeland Security deputy secretary, but pointed out that “we don’t have any specific intelligence that suggests any particular threat of violence.” Already we are seeing in multiple cities across the US, police setting up command centers and training in military techniques, the mobilization of the National Guard, and the deploying of DHS agents to DC. Currently, the National Guard has created a new unit, the so-called National Guard Bureau, made up of “mostly military policemen,” which total around 600 members and would be split between Alabama and Arizona.

According to the Washington Post:

The National Guard Bureau…could be dispatched to help quell unrest in coming days, after a turbulent summer in which National Guard members were deployed to several cities. The new response unit…is not large enough to provide a response like the one Washington saw in June. First reported on by the Associated Press this month, it could provide an initial wave of extra support in states where there is unrest or be used in the nation’s capital, where the Trump administration has broader control because of the city’s status as a federal jurisdiction.

In Washington state:

At least 300 National Guard soldiers, recently deployed overseas [in Jordan], are being trained to handle civil unrest. They will be placed on alert with hundreds of other Guard members who have already been trained for handling such disturbances. Police leaders in Seattle, which has hosted some of the country’s largest racial justice protests, have canceled time off for officers.

In Texas:

On Monday, the Texas Army National Guard announced it was preparing to send up to 1,000 troops to five major cities—Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin and San Antonio—to reinforce the police in the event of disturbances following the November 3 election. Guard officers compared the action to the deployment ordered by Governor Abbott against widespread protests against police violence that erupted after the police murder of George Floyd last May.

In Denver:

Denver’s top officials will launch a police command post in preparation for potential post-election unrest — the first time the city has taken such measures around an election.

In Philadelphia:

The National Guard is now in Philadelphia following days of unrest after 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. was shot and killed by police on Monday. Some of them were stationed near City Hall and the Municipal Services Building…the National Guard has been deployed to the city ahead of Election Day. There was another curfew tonight that went into effect at 9 p.m., but that’s not the main job of the National Guard. They will be guarding buildings like City Hall which will give Philadelphia police the ability to carry out their normal law enforcement duties.

In DC:

On Trump’s part, the mass mobilization of thousands of soldiers and federal agents, including an unspecified number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Washington, D.C., [which] is without precedent.

As The Daily Beast wrote, this deployment will be working under the banner of PACT, or Protecting American Communities Task Force, which was created by the DHS in order to use federal forces to crush protests:

Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection have been ordered to gear up for potential Election Day unrest in Washington, D.C., NBC News reports. This is the first time that the agency has been called in to help secure federal property in the capital during the election, as Department of Homeland Security agents typically only assist with inauguration security, according to the report. An anonymous ICE official told NBC that they will be working with local police due to the historic nationwide protests and attacks on federal property that occurred this year. “As a law enforcement component under the DHS Protecting American Communities Task Force (PACT).

According to Time:

In a more extreme move, the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. purchased more than $100,000 worth of less-lethal weapons, including tear gas canisters, on June 1 in preparation for protests and potentially violent demonstrations after the election, WUSA9 reported. Police Chief Peter Newsham defended the purchase, telling local lawmakers that in law enforcement circles, “it is widely believed there will be civil unrest after the November election regardless of who wins,” according to the news outlet.

In Indiana and Florida:

[L]aw enforcement agencies in Indiana and in the swing state of Florida have created emergency command centers to address any election disturbances as they unfold.

Media coverage of this massive repression build-up has focused solely on fear-mongering about “post-election unrest,” which paints the massively widespread demonstrations which have taken place following the police murder of George Floyd on the same footing of violent threats from the far-Right. This same “both sides” narrative attempts to equate very targeted property destruction and looting of corporate stores with the far-Right physically threatening human lives and the massive repressive power the State, which threatens to aid Trump in his attempt at a coup.

Also, much of the media is silent about the clear support that law enforcement organizations have given to Trump and the degree in which they have given free-rein to far-Right groups as an auxiliary force against Black Lives Matter. No where is there an acknowledgement that there is a degree of cross-over between law enforcement and the far-Right and the degree of collusion between far-Right groups and the police. Lastly, there’s no attempt at looking critically at the massive amounts of violence law enforcement has dished out to the wider population since the George Floyd protests erupted in late May; violence which has only made these demonstrations explode and grow.

Likewise, Democrats in major cities such as Chicago and elsewhere have done nothing but help with this mobilization of repressive forces; attacking “looters” and “rioters,” as cities like Philadelphia, Washington DC, New York, and Portland continue to see almost nightly demonstrations as new waves of unrest unfold following continued police killings. In short, we will see an increase in State repression that we saw following the initial George Floyd demonstrations as police, National Guard, and Border Patrol, DHS, and other federal agents, are all sent across the US to put down potential revolt.

Trump’s push for a coup; the building up of repressive forces, and the mobilization of the far-Right by the State is not happening in a vacuum. Not only are social movements and strikes on the rise, but so is working-class anger at the worsening situation. Climate change driven storms and fires continue to displace millions. The US is currently experiencing its third wave of coronavirus infections as over 230,000 million have died. Millions are swimming in increasing debt as they are unable to pay bills and are threatened with foreclosure, eviction, and job loss.

This it the world that the political and economic elites, the far-Right, and the mass media want us to continue to embrace as the only one possible. Regardless of if we vote or not on November 3rd, the bigger question is what happens after and what do we plan to do about it?

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