Just minutes after a jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin, acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse on all of the charges against him, right-wing domestic terror groups such as the Proud Boys began sending out messages on social media urging their supporters and allies to continue attacks on protesters and political opponents.
According to NPR, there were blatant calls for more violence:
In one Telegram channel for the far-right Proud Boys, some noted they had taken the day off work to await the verdict. “There’s still a chance for this country,” wrote one. In another channel, a member stated that political violence must continue. “The left wont stop until their bodied get stacked up like cord wood,” he wrote.
Could such messages ignite an explosion of violence across the country? Experts believe they could, with Jared Holt, a resident fellow at the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council, warning:
“This might be interpreted across the far right as a type of permission slip to do this kind of thing or to seek out altercations in this way, believing that there is a potential that they won’t face serious consequences for it. I worry that that might end up being interpreted by some people as a proof of concept of this idea that you can actually go out and seek a ‘self-defense situation,’ and you’ll be cheered as a hero for it.”
In the past, Holt added, many right-wing extremist groups have stayed away from public spaces and protests for fear of being identified and arrested by authorities, but the Rittenhouse not guilty verdict could change that:
“Broadly speaking, the far right has been a bit reluctant to turn out in person for things, especially on larger national scales or on issues with a lot of national attention. But this could change that dynamic.”
If right-wing groups do become more involved and active, it could have catastrophic consequences, with heavily armed right-wingers engaging in their own version of the well-known movie series “The Purge” taking place across the U.S. and setting off a wave of violence that could bring the country to the brink of civil war, which is exactly what groups such as the Proud Boys have been calling for all along.
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