Filed under: Featured, Police, Repression, The State, White Supremacy
As Trump laid bare his plan to declare himself the winner of the 2020 election and begin a legal fight challenging the legitimacy of millions of mail-in ballots, across the US, this weekend saw Trump supporters engage in acts of physical violence, targeted racist and anti-Semitic attacks, and campaigns of clear voter suppression and intimidation. These acts are only the latest in a string of racist incidents, from Trump operatives attempting to stop Black people from voting, militia plots to murder Democratic governors, pro-Trump far-Right groups threatening to blow up polling stations, and the Republican party systematically attacking voting rights. On the streets this weekend, predictably, police gave these groups free-rein, while focusing their energies on arresting antifascist and anti-racist counter-protesters instead.
In case you missed it, here’s a roundup of what’s been going down in the lead up to the election.
Trump Applauds Armed Attack on Biden Bus
Gaining the most attention this weekend was Trump’s embrace of an attack in Texas outside of Austin on a Biden campaign bus and a car driven by a staffer by a group of armed Trump supporters who were taking part in a “Trump train” car caravan. Trump supporters surrounded the bus, slowing it down in an attempt to push it of the freeway. One truck also hit a vehicle driven by a Biden staffer, causing damage.
The attack came after Donald Trump, Jr. took to social media stating, “I heard you had an awesome turnout for the Trump Train. It’d be great if you guys would all get together, head down to McAllen and give Kamala Harris a nice Trump Train welcome.”
Trump later celebrated the attack on Twitter as well, calling those involved “Patriots” who “Did Nothing Wrong,” echoing a popular Alt-Right internet meme. Trump went on to attack the FBI who announced that they would be investigating the incident by saying on Twitter, “[T]he 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!”
The man behind the wheel of the truck, Eliazar Cisneros, has a long history of embracing political violence; posting on social media things like #AllLivesSplatter, #RunThemDown, and encouraging the murder of protesters with vehicles. In mid-September, Cisneros, drove his truck through a group of Black Lives Matter protesters. As Kens 5 wrote:
Cisneros said he wasn’t looking for the demonstrators on Saturday. Instead, he said he was driving aimlessly, “waving my flags and showing support for my president.” While online court records show Cisneros was charged late last year for driving while intoxicated with a breath alcohol content of 0.15 or greater, he said the pending charges have not subjected his driver’s license to any conditions that would prevent him from driving aimlessly downtown. Additionally, he said he does not have a license to carry a firearm, noting that the law does not require a license to openly carry a long gun.
Also on social media, Cisneros in 2019 posted a photo of a firearm with the caption: “Bought an Antifa Meat Terrorize Today.” Cisneros’ trajectory is not uncommon: what started as a call for murder and violence against Black Lives Matter and antifascist activists has now turned into an attempt to murder Biden campaign staffers. Moreover, his past attempts to attack protesters – which went unchallenged by law enforcement, shows that such violence is fully sanctioned and allowed by the State, fostering an environment of escalation.
Newsweek would later write of the attack:
Supporters of President Donald Trump who recently harassed Democratic candidate Joe Biden‘s campaign bus in Texas were armed and organized their operation in a private QAnon Facebook page, according to a new report.
The report, which was published by the fact-checking site, Snopes, states that the convoy of trucks that were seen on video surrounding a Biden-Kamala Harris bus on Texas’ Interstate 35, organized the event in a private Facebook page called the Alamo City Trump Train. The report also notes that messages between the group’s members suggested that they were armed with guns.
Later at a campaign rally, Trump made light of the attack, stating that the Trump supporters were “protecting the bus, because they’re nice.” Democrats were largely quiet about the incident, even going so far as to cancel upcoming campaign events in Texas out of fear of future attacks.
Militia Threats Shut Down Zoom Meeting in Rome, GA
A similar scene played out in Rome, Georgia:
Floyd County Democrats have shifted an in-person event Sunday to a virtual Zoom meeting following a threat by so-called “militia” in downtown Rome, GA. Chairwoman Ruth Demeter said in a statement on its website that the event was canceled “out of an abundance of concern for the health and safety of our citizens. We have been informed that a large militia presence is expected in Rome today due to Trump’s visit,” Demeter said, hours before [President Donald] Trump’s arrival. “Additionally, we are not able to secure police presence for our event because of the airport rally.”
Trump Caravans Lead to Violence and Shootings Across the Country
To repress an antifascist speak-out and march today, NYPD had 2 helicopters, SRG, TARU, the Firearms and Tactics Unit, and the assistant chief of police on the scene. Filthy pigs working hand in hand with the far-right for the protection of the capitalist class. https://t.co/2rKkY9w7rP
— Outlive Them NYC (@outlivethemnyc) November 1, 2020
In New York, police beat anti-fascist and anti-racist counter protesters, who mobilized to defend their city against an incoming Trump caravan. The so-called “Trump Train” was repelled from the city, however according to Raw Story:
Ten people were reportedly arrested Sunday afternoon during an anti-Trump protest near High Line Park in Chelsea. Nearby, a pro-Trump caravan — or “Trump Train” as it’s become known — “blocked traffic on the Whitestone Bridge “and were allowed to move on virtually unscathed, with no evidence of any enforcement action taken,” AM New York reported. The Trump Train also blocked the Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge.
Definitely not far-right movement trying to intervene on the voting process. https://t.co/7p5V4NXJZU
— Shane Burley (@shane_burley1) November 1, 2020
But while police looked-on in New York while Trump supporters shut down entire bridges, in Richmond, Virginia a Trump caravan erupted into violence after the drivers shot someone with mace and then carried out a drive-by shooting at the Confederate monument that for months has been reclaimed by anti-racist activists and covered with graffiti. Luckily, no-one was injured, however a car-was damaged.
participants of a pro-trump car rally led by a richmond city council candidate luckily failed to hit anyone when they committed a drive-by shooting at a confederate monument that has been reclaimed by anti racist protesters. https://t.co/W3F1VhKOYM
— molly conger (@socialistdogmom) November 1, 2020
In Bakersfield, CA, a group of Trump supporters in trucks attacked a woman with a Black Lives Matter flag. According to one report:
[A] Black Lives Matter demonstration [was] surrounded by at least 20 to 40 Trump supporters. According to [one BLM supporter], the Trump supporters blocked her into a parking lot before telling her to get out of her vehicle. In the unedited video posted to Twitter, racist slurs can be heard coming from the people who blocked Harris’ vehicle. At one point, a woman reaches inside Harris’ vehicle in an attempt to grab her phone, which she was recording with at the time.
— BallerAlert (@balleralert) November 2, 2020
Meanwhile in Fort Worth, Texas, Trump supporters, responding to a Facebook event entitled, “A Warm Texas Welcome…Trump Style,” circled and jeered at largely African-American voters outside of a busy polling place while brandishing Trump flags and signs, as police escorted the group.
I love the smell of community defense in the morning. https://t.co/2j8RoaRaq6
— douglas. the boo pops (@ClassHuggle) October 31, 2020
U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey attended the event, where he said Trump supporters were driving trucks up and down the street honking their horns, yelling at people entering the early-voting site, and slowing traffic on the Poly neighborhood thoroughfare.
“I was shocked that they did that,” he said during a phone interview. “This is the busiest predominantly African-American early voting site in all of Tarrant County. The fact that they were parading up and down there while people were waiting in line to vote and jeering at them and honking their horns with the flags, it was very representative of the type of things you used to see in the old South — except people would have the Confederate flags flying from their trucks. This time it was the Trump flags.”
Ft. Worth Texas reaction to Trump supporters intimidation tactics in the black community.. pic.twitter.com/HC3GDHa8P4
— Huey P Newton Gun Club (@HueyPNewtonGun) November 1, 2020
In Louisville, KY, 100 armed Trump supporters rallied in a school parking lot without the consent of the school board and brandished weapons at a small group of counter-protesters who used their own cars to try and stop the caravan from leaving the lot. Despite the group brandishing weapons on school grounds, police made no arrests of the Trump supporters.
In Marin City, California, clashes and fights broke out after a large Trump caravan harassed residents of the working-class African-American community, yelling racial slurs at those who came out to rally against them.
By the time what they called the “Trump train” reached the gateway shopping center in Marin city, the county sheriff estimates there were somewhere between 250 and 350 vehicles, including some full sized retired fire trucks.
The sheriff’s department says the group honked horns and yelled thru loudspeakers as they were inundated with calls from concerned Marin City residents, which is a small and primarily African American community. Eventually, 50-100 counter-protestors showed up.
Paul Austin, who runs a non profit for kids was one of them. “There was everything from ‘four more years, four more years’ to them cussing out folks. Giving you the middle finger, using the n-word. Just inciting what they were probably looking for to get underneath people skin.”
The Marin library where the [confrontation] took place is also a ballot drop off. Austin believes the event was meant to intimate voters in the community.
The San Francisco Chronicle quoted one resident as saying:
“They were calling children n—,” she said. “They were yelling at kids I know, kids I care about.”
Police Attack Black Lives Matter Protesters Marching to Polls in Graham, NC
African-American protesters taking part in a civil-rights march to an early polling place were met with extreme police violence in Graham, NC:
The participants in Saturday’s “I Am Change” march had intended to conclude at an early-voting site to emphasize turnout in the final days of the presidential campaign. Those plans were thrown into disarray when law-enforcement officers in riot gear and gas masks insisted demonstrators move off the street and clear county property, despite a permit authorizing their presence.
If it wasn't clear to you before, it should be by now. Law enforcement agencies across the country are misusing their incredible powers to suppress opposition to Donald Trump while allowing the president's supporters to do as they please. pic.twitter.com/JSts5u1mEe
— Nick Martin (@nickmartin) November 1, 2020
As tensions escalated, officers deployed pepper spray and began making arrests. Among those caught in clouds of the irritant were children as young as 3 years old, as well as elderly residents and a disabled woman, said participants in the march.
Participants in Saturday’s march said their aim was to boost voter turnout. They included relatives of [George] Floyd and the parents of Christian Griggs, a Black man killed by his White father-in-law in North Carolina in 2013.
Armed Far-Right Trump Supporters in Vancouver Open Fire on Black Lives Matter Protesters Holding Vigil After 21 Year Old is Killed by Police
This is what Joey Gibson + the Proud Boys were attempting to silence tonight. They're the same people mobilizing to intimidate voters, the same people who march lock + step next to neo-Nazis, who Trump has called on to "Stand back and stand by." #KevinPetersonJr #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/BvdWQLojZW
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) October 31, 2020
This weekend, over 1,000 mourners came out to honor the life of Kevin Peterson, Jr, a 21-year-old African-American man who was shot and killed by police in Vancouver, WA, just north of Portland, OR. In response, far-Right groups and Trump supporters also mobilized to intimidate rally goers after spreading fears of “ANTIFA.” After 500 people took to the streets, two members of a far-Right group associated with the Proud Boys opened fire from their vehicle, luckily hitting no-one. Police made no arrests despite being in the area.
Far-right individuals can be heard yelling "shoot them" while shots are fired from their vehicle towards Black Lives Matter protesters. https://t.co/E03SK1a4Cn
— Zakir Khan (@ZakirSpeaks) October 31, 2020
Austin Police Pose for Photos with Proud Boys
Police in Austin, TX, posed for photos with the pro-Trump far-Right street gang the Proud Boys, drawing condemnation. According to one article:
The Wind Therapy Freedom Riders, or WTFrs, organized a “Re-fund the Police” rally Sunday, at the same time a separate group was holding a “Recall Mayor Adler” rally downtown. WTFrs President Luis Rodriguez says both groups mixed together as the afternoon went on, and toward the end members of his group asked officers patrolling across the street to take photos with them.
Austin Police officers pose downtown with members of Proud Boys while they hold up "White Power" signs, in front of City Hall today. pic.twitter.com/CzB5k4vpFD
— TheDaily (@StopTheCriminal) November 2, 2020
In some photos, officers can be seen standing with just WTFrs members. In other photos, more people appeared to join the group, holding signs and flags in support of President Donald Trump, as well as signs that say “Recall Adler” and a sign against City Council Member Greg Casar.
Additionally, a couple of people making the “OK” sign, which is a hand gesture that has become associated with white supremacy, appeared in a photo at one point, standing at the edge of the group. One was wearing black and yellow, which are colors known to be associated with the Proud Boys. That group has been identified as a far-right extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks “domestic hate groups and other extremists” in the United States.
Pro-Trump, Anti-Semitic Vandalism Found Hours Before Trump Campaign Rally
In Grand Rapids, MI, a century-old Jewish cemetery was attacked with anti-Semitic graffiti reading “TRUMP” and “MAGA,” only hours before Trump was to hold a campaign rally.
According to the Washington Post:
“TRUMP,” they combined to read across several headstones. Two more gravesites displayed another message in red graffiti: “MAGA.” This act of vandalism at Ahavas Israel Cemetery, discovered hours before President Trump arrived across town to stage his final rally of the campaign, has rattled the tightknit Jewish community in western Michigan’s largest city. The crime is being investigated by law enforcement officials, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Michigan Jewish Dems say several headstones at the Ahavas Israel Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids were vandalized with pro-Trump messages ahead of the president's rally tonight pic.twitter.com/3l25sxACOi
— Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) November 2, 2020
Going Into Election Day 2020
For years the anarchist and antifascist movement has warned the public about the rising cross-over between the Trumpian State, the far-Right, and an increasingly militarized police force. With police associations coming out in support of Trump and far-Right groups and militia organizations openly working with police in order to attack and put down Black Lives Matter and antifascist protests, the events of last weekend should shock no-one. The fact that police are willing to give the far-Right and Trump supporters free-rein to attack members of the public while also targeting and coming down against anti-racist protesters shows that the police are not neutral and have chosen a very clear side.
The White House on lockdown: A federal law enforcement source tells NBC that beginning tomorrow, crews will build a “non-scalable” fence to secure the WH complex, Ellipse and Lafayette Square.
250 National Guardsmen have been put on standby, reporting to Metro Police officials.
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) November 2, 2020
No matter how many the far-Right kill, the State knows that it needs these groups: the Proud Boys, the militias, and the Qanon fans – to act as an auxiliary army that can push back against it’s enemies in the streets.
The NY Times did a video on how cops have given free reign & outright support to armed, right-wing groups this year whenever they've come out to try to intimidate & inflict violence on #BlackLivesMatter & antifascist protests.https://t.co/DzFZoOXKl7
— Ash J (@AshAgony) November 2, 2020
As the DOJ prepares to flood polling stations in swing states; largely districts of color, and Trump prepares to contest the election: we can be assured that as the fight plays out in court, Trump will call upon his supporters to take the streets. Working people in mass numbers must respond and shut-down these far-Right rallies and defend their communities, just as they responded in mass numbers following the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in the tens of thousands across the country.