There is an “elevated” possibility of conflict in the two weeks around the election, though it will likely be “low-level noise” rather than extreme violence, an extremism expert told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Even though there are several calls for direct action circulating on the internet, “it’s not quite as widespread or fervent as it could be,” Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism Director Brian Levin told the DCNF.
Some experts are concerned about public officials being targeted, Levin said, but large crowds have been somewhat avoided due to early voting and that the real potential risk lies with unpredictable individuals.
“Despite the chatter about organized groups like known militias and self-appointed poll watchers showing up, a lower, yet festering risk of more pronounced violence continues to also be from more impulsive and disgruntled characters who are mostly hidden,” Levin told the DCNF.
“They operate more stealthily as armed smaller associations or loners who see their status eroding and they are the true wild cards,” Levin added.
Thread on preparing for potential local violence on Election Day. The purpose of this is to tell you all what to expect in days ahead; sometimes we are not transparent enough on planning and preparedness and what it looks like. This may be long. But hopefully helpful. 1/
— Juliette Kayyem (@juliettekayyem) October 25, 2020
Levin said that voters are more likely to be injured in a car accident on their way to the polls than from a violent dispute at a polling location. (RELATED: DHS Agencies Preparing For Potential Civil Unrest Surrounding Election Day)
“If the president prevails in his bid for re-election, there is a risk of violence of the kind we saw in various cities this spring, as the hard left amps up for an insurgency,” Levin said.
If President Donald Trump wins re-election, the places “most at-risk from [the] hard left” will be Democratic cities where violent demonstrations have already happened such as Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Washington, D.C.; New York City; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and the Bay Area of California, Levin told the DCNF.
When data shows that there might be a Republican to Democratic flip, the potential for violence increases prior to the election, according to Levin. Increased potential for violence will likely last through the new year because the “extreme armed hard right (not conservatives of good-will) will likely regroup as an insurgency,” Levin said.
“I’d look to places where we’ve seen militia organizing, prior conflictual protests, and tight races, but the greatest likelihood is really from more sporadic low-level incivility if anything,” Levin told the DCNF. “Again, it’s the wild card I worry about, which is less far less likely, but more threatening.”
If Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins, Levin said he would “expect to see some ‘back in your face’ conflicts” in Democratic cities as “revenge from [the] hard right.”
Police Departments in major cities would not say how they are preparing for potential protests and violence surrounding the election though multiple cities have seen extended periods of civil unrest through the summer, the DCNF reported.
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