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Impact of political rhetoric extending action by extremists discussed by CSUSB professor
The American Prospect
Nov. 3, 2020
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, was quoted in an article about Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. The historic African American church was the site where nine congregation members were killed during a prayer meeting in 2015 by a white supremacist.
The article said the attack was in many ways a preview for an ugly era in race relations and politics, leading to the 2020 presidential election as “a referendum on the tolerance of hate speech, bigotry, and extremism.”
Evidence indicates that hate crimes can be linked to presidential rhetoric, explains Levin. When people are paying attention to leaders, their words can correlate to different behaviors. For example, six days after 9/11, President George W. Bush spoke at the Islamic Center of Washington, and hate crimes dropped “precipitously” the next day and into the next year, Levin says.
By contrast, when President Donald Trump spoke about the 2017 Charlottesville rally—a gathering of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, neofascists, and Klansmen that emboldened mostly white men to march through the streets of a small Virginia town chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” while waving tiki torches and Confederate and Nazi flags—he said there were “very fine people” on both sides.
As far back as Sept. 15, 2015, when Trump, then a candidate for president, revealed his “Muslim ban” plan for the first time, the data showed an increase in the frequency and severity of anti-Muslim attacks. By this point, Trump was regularly receiving wall-to-wall coverage, with networks showing live footage of his empty podium in anticipation of what he would say or do next. This became a conduit for hate, which spread across the country over the next five years.
“We see this [link] with a fair degree of consistency,” Levin says. “When leaders speak around visceral or fear-inducing, panic-inducing events, their words correlate to things like an increase in hate crime.”
Read the complete article at “Return to Mother Emanuel.”
CSUSB professor discusses potential for violence in wake of election
KXTV TV Sacramento
Nov. 2, 2020
A segment about Sacramento business boarding up in anticipation of violence in the wake of the Nov. 3 election included an interview with Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at CSUSB.
Presidential elections have typically led to volatile environments, he said, but Americans shouldn’t expect widespread violence. “We have an idea when risks are greater,” Levin said. “What we have less of an ability to do is tell who’s going to do it, and exactly where.”
Watch the video report at “Sacramento businesses board up ahead of election day.”
‘Calls to violence’ related to election have not materialized, CSUSB professor says
Nov. 2, 2020
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at CSUSB was interviewed for an article about tensions rising ahead of Tuesday’s election, which has led civil rights groups to set up resources for voters to report intimidation at the polls and potential extremist activities.
Levin said researchers are seeing “elevated chatter” from extremists in the lead-up to the election. Nevertheless, the “calls to violence” they expected haven’t materialized.
Still, Levin explained that America is entering a “new era” of extremism that could ultimately include “an insurgency by far-right [actors] and white supremacists.”
Levin specifically pointed to Steven Carrillo, an adherent to the “boogaloo” movement, a loosely organized militia group allegedly pushing to spark a civil war. Carrillo was charged with killing a federal security contractor and a sheriff’s deputy and wounding three others in a pair of ambush-style attacks this summer in northern California, including one that happened during a protest in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.
Levin noted that extremists have started moving away from joining organized, “hierarchical” groups following the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Instead, they’re unifying around specific causes and “increasingly ensconcing themselves in wedge places of controversy,” like battles over pandemic regulations or conflicted elections.
Read the complete article at “Tip lines allow voters to report intimidation, extremism at the polls.”
Some extremist militant groups see election ‘as a call to arms,’ CSUSB professor says
Nov. 2, 2020
Some self-styled militia groups said they’re planning to watch the polls but would somehow remain “unseen,” while others said they didn’t want to impede the civic process and would stay home. Despite the argument from paramilitary leaders that their organizations are there for self-defense, the sentiment doesn’t allay the worries of extremist experts.
“Whether they are normally in the fringes or die-hard extremists, they see this election as a call to arms,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
Levin, points out some militant groups have argued heading out to confront Black Lives Matter protesters, or people they perceive to be antifa, was a defensive act. Others have argued that Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who self-identified as a militia member and allegedly shot three people, killing two, in Kenosha, exemplifies the “defensive” measures of militia groups.
Read the complete article at "Some militant group leaders don't agree with Trump's call for them to be on guard."
Pre-election anxiety over violence is not new, CSUSB professor says
Nov. 3, 2020
As tensions mounted on the eve of a bitterly contested presidential election Tuesday, law enforcement officials assured voters they can cast their ballots without fear of intimidation and violence.
Pre-election anxiety is not new. Political tensions tend to spike around national elections, said Brian Levin, director of the center for the study of hate and extremism at California State University.
Read the complete article at “US law enforcement officials reassure Americans they can vote in peace.”
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, was quoted in an article that reported on private paramilitary militias as being illegal in all 50 states. Some of these groups, citing President Donald Trump’s claim of massive voter fraud, have said they would monitor polls on election day, raising concerns among local officials.
While illegal, state authorities have done very little to disband them.
"I think in many states, there's not only a lack of political will, but we also have so-called constitutional sheriffs who refused to enforce the laws," said Levin. "I think some law enforcement executives are sympathetic (to these groups' causes). I think most are just not very aware of militias that are operating within their jurisdictions, particularly in rural areas and also of what the law is."
Read the complete article at “All states prohibit 'militia extremists' and paramilitary activities. So why aren't they stopped?”
'Lower, yet festering risk’ of violence by ‘impulsive and disgruntled characters’ related to election is likely, CSUSB professor says
Daily Caller News Foundation
Nov. 2, 2020
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,” Cal State San Bernardino’s 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.
Read the complete article at “An ‘elevated risk’ for possible election day conflicts more likely in isolated incidents, expert says.”
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