According to a new report, Georgia has been marked as one of the five states highest for far-right militia acting around the presidential election in November.
Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project and Atlanta-based Militia Watch are now warning that armed extremist groups “pose a serious threat to the safety and security of American voters." They cite election concerns, fears of a left wing “coup” and anti-coronavirus lockdown as the main factors behind a possible military uprising.
Along with Georgia, the report lists Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Oregon as states at the highest risk for militia activity, although researchers said they did not have specific inside information on what such groups might be planning or precisely where such activity could take place.
Hampton Stall, founder of the blog Militia Watch, said he does not necessarily believe that militias have grown in size during the pandemic and the runup to the election, but he said their rhetoric has become “more aggravated, more energized” and centered on the political fortunes of President Donald Trump.
The report touched on militia groups like the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers, but also brawlers like the Proud Boys and loose movements like the Boogaloo Bois who advocate for civil war. In recent months, more members of such groups have come out to counter Black Lives Matter street protests, which Stall said has created networking opportunities.
“It has become very normal for militias to show up at protests," Stall said. “That’s a really powerful effect of this summer.”
This summer, armed groups have shown up to protests across the nation. In Kenosha, Wisc., a 17-year-old was arrested in August for allegedly killing two protesters and wounding another. Later that same month, in Portland, Ore., a man associated with a right-wing group was shot and killed by a leftist protester. This month, police arrested 13 men in a militia-led plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has angered some on the far-right with her approach to the pandemic and criticism of Trump.
In Georgia, far-right militias staged a demonstration in August in the city of Stone Mountain where they fought and shouted at left-wing counter demonstrators for hours before police intervened. That demonstration was in answer to a pop-up protest by an all-black militia that marched on Stone Mountain Park in July.
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