“Where’s Nancy?” A man forced his way into the San Francisco home of the head of the House of Representatives, second in line to the US presidential succession after the vice president, on Friday and asked for Nancy Pelosi. She was not there, but he was looking for her and attacked the legislator’s husband with a hammer to the head.
The episode shocked the United States and dominated the news of the day. But It was not an isolated violent event.
“You’re going to die, you piece of shit. We’re going to hang you.” Another man, a few days ago, left his Death threat to the attorney general of Arizona, in charge of supervising the elections on November 8.
Earlier, the candidate for governor of that state, Katie Hobbs, who is waging a strong contest against a candidate who does not recognize Joe Biden’s victory in 2020, denounced that she had received “hundreds of threats” against her and her family. Last Friday, a group of strangers forced their way into her office and stole her documents.
In a key Arizona county, Maricopa, election officials last week reported seeing hooded men in military gear very close to a polling station anticipated. The masked men took photos of the voters.
In Florida, a Republican militant was beaten to death while handing out pamphlets near a Democratic rally. It was later learned that the man attacked had been member of a white supremacist groupthe Southern League.
And there are many more. The attack on Pelosi’s husband is just one of a series of dark episodes, a sample of the violent and hostile climate that is lived in a good part of the United States, when there are very few days left before the elections on November 8 to elect 435 representatives, 34 senators and 36 governors.
This is the first major vote in the United States after the scandalous defeat of former President Donald Trump in 2020, amid allegations of fraud that were never proven, and the horrendous assault on Capitol Hill by Trump forces on January 6, 2021.
“Some, the vast majority, are horrified by the attack on Pelosi’s husband. But sadly others are encouraged by example,” she told Clarion Christopher Arterton, professor and expert on political campaigns at Georgetown University.
“I think the election has become more dangerous because some may see this as a call to arms. Given the availability of guns in our society, it takes a lot of dangerous people to cause real violence,” she added.
A Reuters-Ipsos poll released on Wednesday found that 43% of Americans are “concerned about threats of violence or intimidation of voters while voting in person,” and two-thirds fear “extremists will commit violence after voting.” the elections”.
Joe Biden’s concern
“There is too much violence, political violence, too much hate,” Biden said in a campaign speech Friday night. “And what makes us think that a party can talk about stolen elections? Is Covid a hoax? It’s all a bunch of lies,” he added.
Biden’s top national security officials are tracking multiple threats to the nation’s election security infrastructure ahead of the election and put together an intelligence bulletin this week, Politico reported.
The document lays out details of cyber threats posed by China and Russia, as well as other non-state actors, and potential physical threats to election officials in jurisdictions across the country.
Security officials are on alert for the potential outbreak of violence in response to the spread of false narratives about the results. Officials said politicians and election workers, including those who work at polling stations, are likely to face increasing threats and harassment from extremists both online and in person.
“Now we’re hearing reports of people surrounding the polls, some even in tactical gear, and questioning people,” said John Cohen, the former head of counterterrorism at the Department of Homeland Security.
“Are the police ready for that? They have to be. This is all being driven by the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen,” he added.
Officials consider misinformation and misinformation to be the biggest threat for the election, given how easy it would be for extremists, be they domestic supporters or foreign intelligence operatives, to take advantage of delayed results or isolated failures of the voting machine to spread lies about the security of the process.
About 40% of Republicans and a quarter of Democrats would blame fraud if their party does not win control of Congress on November 8, according to a recent Axios-Ipsos poll.
Yotam Ophir, a communication professor at the University at Buffalo, New York, and an expert on disinformation, conspiracy theories, and extremism, told Clarion that “threats of violence had increased since the events of January 6, and it’s hard not to associate the horrific attack on the Pelosi home with the upcoming midterm elections.”
The expert added that “public figures, including politicians and journalists, must act responsibly when talking about these events. It is understandable that the media wants to cover it, as it should, but it must be done with care and sensitivity. We do not want encourage copycats or glorify undemocratic behavior.”
Arterton warned that “far-right armed vigilantes are already showing up at places where early voting is taking place. Inevitably, there will be confrontations that could turn into violence. I don’t expect this to be systematic and organized. Spontaneous and isolated cases are the most likely.
“Both campaigns plan to have teams of attorneys and observers on Election Day in an effort to decrease systemic discouragement from voting. I hope that the local police will be alert to deal with any situation that arises,” he added.
Ophir warned that “there is a potential for violence” as the election approaches, on that day and when the results are verified.
“Despite the horrific events of January 6, Trump and many in the GOP refuse to accept the 2020 results (and the 2016 popular vote results) and continue to turn on their supporters. When people feel that their votes and opinions don’t count, they feel disenfranchised, and this could and has resulted in violence in the past,” he remarked.
“The development of events depends on the results of the elections, the reaction of political figures and the existence or absence of inciting discourse in the media,” concluded the academic.