As the country lurches toward Election Day, activists, right-wing militants, racial justice organizations, and everyday voters have been preparing themselves for the possibility of widespread and violent civil unrest. Spurred by a year of historic tumult, they’re constructing their own bulletproof vests, stockpiling food, buying guns for the first time, and planning escape routes to safe spaces off the grid.
Ryan Nichols, a military veteran, Republican, and citizen search and rescue operator, said he no longer trusts that the nation’s institutions will be able to keep the peace.
“What is really happening right now is people want weapons to defend themselves,” he said. “Everybody feels this way in my circles. I don’t trust my government, and that’s coming from me as a Republican, a veteran. I don’t trust the country. I don’t trust people at all levels of government who are overseeing me to do right by me. I trust people like myself.”