DIn early September, Enrique Tarrio, former leader of the Proud Boys, was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. He received the longest sentence handed down to date against the thousand one hundred people arrested in connection with the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. His trial, as well as those of several leaders of extremist groups prosecuted for “conspiracy seditious” – an accusation as rare as it is serious – captivated the attention of the American public. Still, when it comes to political violence in the United States, these organized extremist groups only constitute the tip of the iceberg.
Much less attention is paid to what is arguably a much greater threat: violence from radicalized individuals unconnected to these groups. The vast majority of mass killings motivated by supremacist and anti-government ideas are in fact committed by isolated assailants, at least since the Oklahoma City bombing, which left 168 dead in 1995. This type of Violence continues to gain ground and shows no sign of weakening, as the United States prepares to enter a feverish year of campaigning ahead of the 2024 presidential elections.
Anti-democratic violence against public sector employees, elected officials and election staff is skyrocketing. In August, FBI agents in Utah shot and killed an armed man who allegedly made threats against President Biden shortly before his visit to the state. Ten days later, a woman was charged with intentionally making false statements to purchase guns for her mentally ill 30-year-old son, who had previously been arrested for threatening in line to assassinate Joe Biden.
Suddenly, ordinary people are the targets of serious threats after being members of a polling station or a school board. In the United States, around ten people have been accused of making threats against election workers – among others, a man from Iowa threatened to “lynch” and of “hang” a poll worker in Arizona, and, in Texas, a man called for a “mass shooting” against members of polling stations and electoral staff in general.
It is not only political actors who face this type of threat. Hate violence targeting minorities is also on the rise. Anti-Semitic incidents are reaching historic highs in the United States and hate crime figures are soaring in almost every category.
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