Five US states at high risk of election-related violence from militias, report claims

Graig Graziosi
·2 min read
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, front right, speaks next to members of the Michigan Liberty Militia during the “American Patriot Rally-Sheriffs speak out” event at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., Monday, 18 May, 2020 ((MLive/Grand Rapids Press via the Associated Press))
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, front right, speaks next to members of the Michigan Liberty Militia during the “American Patriot Rally-Sheriffs speak out” event at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., Monday, 18 May, 2020 ((MLive/Grand Rapids Press via the Associated Press))

Five states are at a "high risk" of facing election-related armed violence from militia groups, according to a report.

Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project and MilitiaWatch released a report that claimed Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Oregon are at risk of experiencing violence from militia groups during the 2020 US election.

The report is titled "Standing By: Right-Wing Militia Groups and the US Election," a reference to Donald Trump's "stand back and stand by," which was viewed by many as an endorsement of far-right hate group the Proud Boys.

USA Today originally reported the story.

The report claims that militia activity would likely be in capital cities, peripheral towns, medium-population cities and suburban areas with centralised zones.

North Carolina, Texas, California, Virginia and New Mexico were all listed as states that were in "moderate" risk of militia violence.

“Militia groups and other armed non-state actors pose a serious threat to the safety and security of American voters,” the study said. “Throughout the summer and leading up to the general election, these groups have become more assertive, with activities ranging from intervening in protests to organizing kidnapping plots targeting elected officials.”

The report warned that militia groups are attempting to position themselves as supplementary law enforcement agents by providing "security" at public events.

Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who shot and killed two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin earlier this year, claimed he was affiliated with a militia and claimed he traveled to the protest in order to support police officers. He has been charged with two counts of murder.

The report also named the country's most active militias, with all but one being exclusively right-wing in ideology. The militias are the Three Percenters, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Light Food Militia, Civilian Defense Force, American Contingency, Patriot Prayer, Boogaloo Bois and People's Rights.

ACLED and MilitiaWatch have tracked more than 80 militia groups since the beginning of the summer, the majority of which are right wing.

Earlier this month, the FBI broke up a Michigan militia’s plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Despite the warnings, Sam Jones, a spokesman for ACLED, said that political violence was not set in stone.

"Still, these risks do not mean that violence is inevitable," Mr Jones said. "Voters should not be intimidated. Rather, we hope people are able to use the data to evaluate their own threat environment and organize locally to stay safe, reduce polarization in their communities and, ultimately, mitigate the risk of violence."

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