There’s been a concerted effort to blame riots and violence on right wing actors since the first George Floyd protests first devolved into burning and looting. That effort is continuing as anti-gun orgs and their media enablers try to deflect the blame for violence from their friends on the left while blaming their political enemies and the exercise of allegedly unfettered Second Amendment rights.
Regardless of their motivations, the presence of armed actors at recent demonstrations has generally led to a similar outcome: escalation.
“The main effect has been to make everything worse,” says Pitcavage, the researcher at the Anti-Defamation League. “It just makes everything into a tinderbox.”
The presence of armed militia groups – even under the pretense of maintaining order and protecting the community – is seen as a tool of intimidation and a way to chill free speech. It also encourages racial justice protesters and other demonstrators to bring their own weapons to already-tense events.
Militias are “showing up to agitate the situation,” says Daryl Johnson, a former domestic terrorism analyst at the Department of Homeland Security who now owns a consulting compnay for law enforcement. “[The militias are] trying to silence the opposition and the opposition is arming itself to protect themselves, and also to intimidate and harass the militia. So now you kind of have this arms race that is starting.”
Analysts say they are concerned that the events will escalate without strong action and messaging from law enforcement disavowing the presence of armed groups, and that the U.S. could see more violence arise from the demonstrations.
“When people are armed in these tense situations, it just makes violence more likely,” Jackson says.
– Claire Hansen in The Problem With Militias and the Constitution