Election day violence?

voteThis post has been edited since first posted.

 

Will we have violence in the Nov. 8th election? If we do, it will be a first. But then, in this election almost everything is a first. For starters, an Arkansas Republican Trump supporting “poll watcher” told voters to go home while standing in front of a polling place. This guy is a gun toting man who has used his gun to threaten before. From the article:

Burks and many Arkansas Democrats want Soffer removed from the country election commission, however, the latest flap is just the most recent in a long list of complaints involving the 74-year-old Republican.

After Soffer brandished a loaded gun at a meeting in April, Democrats have tried to have him removed from the election commission. Webb appointed Soffer to a second 4-year term on the commission in June.

Let’s get this straight- this man was reappointed to the election commission.

Sigh.

Last night, there was a kerfuffle at a Trump rally in Reno, Nevada. Let’s take a look at what happened and what Trump and his supporters said happened- two different things as it turns out:

The man whose protest saw Donald Trump rushed off the stage by Secret Service agents has said the Republican nominee’s supporters turned on him when he held up a sign reading: “Republicans against Trump”.

The man, who identified himself as Austyn Crites from Reno, told the Guardian he was holding the sign at a rally when Trump supporters wrestled him to the ground.

The 33-year-old – who says he has been a registered Republican for about six years – said he was kicked, punched and choked, and feared for his life when the crowd turned on him at the gathering in Reno, Nevada.  (…)

Crites said when he was on the ground he heard someone yell “something about a gun” and he kept telling those on top of him that he had merely been holding a sign.

He was unaware, until the Guardian told him, that Trump had been ushered from the stage amid the mayhem.

For his part, Crites said he felt relieved when police arrived and placed him in handcuffs, but said officers had to fend off Trump supporters who continued to attack him. “As I was taken from the room, people are just looking at me like I’m a demon,” he said.

He said he was taken to the back of the auditorium, searched, subjected to a background check and then swiftly released.

Of course, if there is an actual threat with a gun that must be taken seriously. Why someone in the crowd thought there was a gun is still a question. The Secret Service did the right thing and thankfully Donald Trump is safe.

But then came the inevitable false and dangerous tweets began by Trump’s campaign with lies spewed that Trump was the victim of an assassination attempt:

But amid the chaos, some people seemed sure. Within minutes, at least two top Trump campaign voices — Donald Trump Jr., and top social media aide Dan Scavino — passed along unsubstantiated claims that the GOP nominee had just survived an “assassination attempt.” (…)  Someone on the scene had shouted that there was a gun. But there wasn’t, as the Secret Service soon confirmed.

Deplorable.

The implication and actual tweet that the incident involved a Hillary supporter is false. The man who was ushered out of the rally is a Republican who fears what a Donald Trump presidency would be for our country.

But never mind. This election has produced one candidate who says anything that pops into his head, lies on the stump and invokes rhetoric that gets the crowd chanting: “Lock her up.” The fact that so many people believe this is OK is what we ought to be frightened about as Americans. Trump may have been right when he said that he could step out onto 5th Avenue and shoot someone and not lose his support.:

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,”

No candidate for election to the office of President of the United States has said anything even remotely similar to this.

Lying just invokes more fear and hyperbolic rhetoric. Some Americans have been riled up to the point of being in a frenzy for the past year with dangerous rhetoric like this. We don’t know whether someone unhinged or so angered after listening to these lies will take action.

But can we talk about the instigation of violence at Trump rallies? We have not seen this before in American elections. It is simply not OK. Talk is one thing but some supporters are also talking about using guns on election day and after the election if Trump does not win. This is not how we do democracy in America. I wrote about this in my last two posts.

This is deplorable and an American tragedy. We can’t accept talk of violence during our democratic elections. It’s not who we are. We should not sit by and let it happen and we need to demand that our media and our elected officials condemn the lies and fear mongering.

The Brady Campaign is asking for people to renounce violence in the election:

Supporters of the Brady Campaign are once again calling on Donald Trump and the RNC to renounce similar threats of violence and disavow those like Richard Burr who spew such hateful rhetoric.

Brady president Dan Gross said, “Americans are fed up with the vile and dangerous talk of political violence coming from Republicans on the campaign trail. And they’re scared of what might happen on election day, even cancelling class at schools with polling places over fear of violence.  (…) “In this country, we settle our political differences with ballots, not bullets or bombs. We debate our opponents on the issues; we don’t call for their assassination when we’re behind in the polls. Every day Trump and the Republican Party fail to renounce hateful and violent rhetoric, they encourage deadly violence.”

#Enough.

There’s something else you can if you see people with guns at polling places. You can text “GUNSDOWN” to 91990.:

According to The Washington Post, “many election officials across the country are, for the very first time, bracing for intimidation or even violence on Election Day,” and these fears are compounded given that “most states have no laws regarding guns in polling places.”

Under federal law it is illegal to intimidate people trying to vote with guns or by other means. (…)

Voters who text “GUNSDOWN” to 91990 will receive information on a national voter protection hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) operated by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Appropriate reports will be passed on to law enforcement and election officials, and voters will have the opportunity, if they feel safe doing so, to share photos of voter intimidation on social media.

The project’s launch comes as several disturbing news reports raise the prospect of people carrying guns at the polls and engaging in other instances of possible voter intimidation — including calls from racist far-right  media outlets for an “army” of white nationalists to “watch” the polls:

Yikes.

Common sense about threats of violence and use of guns to intimidate voters may not prevail in this election cycle.

In addition to violent threats and rhetoric, there are other voter intimidation schemes coming from the Republicans who are quick to intimate that the election may be rigged and the outcome will be illegitimate. But the real threat is their own ugly and un-American attempts to suppress the vote. Courts are ruling agains these schemes but the damage has already  been done in many states.

On Tuesday we will find out how many “law abiding” gun permit holders show up at the polls to intimidate people. Yes, I said intimidate. Most people understand that openly carrying a gun at a polling place is akin to intimidation- that is how they feel regardless of whether that person has a permit or is actually a legal permit holder.  And remember that in many states permitless carry is allowed so a person carrying may not be so law abiding after all. If someone feels intimidated by an armed guy at a polling place, then it is intimidation.  This is the result of our American gun culture loosening laws to allow this to happen. But in this particular hyperbolic election with threats of violence being real and promoted by one party and its’ candidate, we have to take this seriously.

Take a look at what happened at a Virginia polling place:

A man wearing a Donald Trump shirt and carrying a weapon stood outside a voting location in Loudoun County, Virginia, on Friday. Authorities in the nation’s richest county are apparently OK with that.

Erika Cotti encountered the man when she went to vote at the county’s registrar’s office, she told The Huffington Post. Virginia doesn’t have early voting per se, but voters can cast in-person absentee ballots for a host of reasons, like if they’re going to be out of the county or city on Election Day.

“I had my 9-year-old son with me. I felt intimidated,” Cotti said. “And I had to explain to my 9-year-old why a man with a 357 magnum is standing outside the polling station.”

Cotti said the man offered her a Republican sample ballot, which she declined.

“He’s like, ‘Who are you going to vote for, crooked Hillary?’ And I was like, that’s really none of your business,” Cotti said, adding that the man was standing in the sidewalk outside of the office when they left and blocking their path.

This is not OK and it is intimidation. This is not what we do in America to get people to vote, or not to vote, as the case may be.

This is not the America we deserve. It’s time to stand up for common sense and the right of every American who is qualified to vote to be able to vote. In this country we don’t vote with our guns. We vote our conscience and hopefully armed with the facts about the candidates. No one can stop you from your right to vote. And most especially not armed vigilantes.

I am very concerned about Tuesday’s election- not just because I fear a Donald Trump win but because I fear that we will see violence.

We are better than this.

UPDATE:

I just read this Media Matters article featuring a new ad for Donald Trump about second amendment rights with none other than NRA Board member Ted Nugent:

A new advertisement from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign about hunting and the Second Amendment features National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, who claims Hillary Clinton “will destroy the freedom that is uniquely American.” Earlier this year, Nugent called for Clinton to be hanged for treason.

The eight-minute video features other conservative media figures including Fox News host Sean Hannity, frequent Fox News guest and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, and Mark Geist, the co-author of 13 Hours, about the 2012 attacks on American diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

Insanity. Donald Trump has embraced the inflammatory rhetoric of an unhinged former musician whose offensive and threatening rhetoric has been known for years. And yet,  the NRA keeps him on their Board and Donald Trump thinks this is OK.

NOT.

6 thoughts on “Election day violence?

  1. j. Edwards says:

    Thought I would chime in about the Trump rally incident in Reno. As it so happens I was maybe 10 feet away when Mr. Crites was grabbed by the crowd.

    When Crites passed me on his way to the front, he was aggressively pushing and shoving people out of his path to make it to the front. Before he was physically accosted I personally saw his elbow strike a woman’s face as he moved through the crowd. Whether or not, that was intentional, I do not know but that and the fact that he was protesting Trump was the cataylist that caused people immediately around him to grab him. I also clearly heard him state “I have a gun”. I believe he said this out of fear to get people to let go of him but the crowd’s reaction was the opposite as quite a few people yelled that he had a gun as they proceeded to strike him and hold him on the ground. This commotion was what caused Trump to pause and look into the crowd before the yells of “gun” had him rushed off stage.

    Now I’m not a Trump supporter, (I voted for Johnson) and I only attended the rally at the invite of a friend, (who was a supporter for Bernie Sanders) but I figured since I witnessed the event I’d share the “other” side of the story.

  2. j. Edwards says:

    He did state that “he had a gun”. We all know he did not. I believe he yelled that proclamation, thinking that the Trump supporters would let him go out of fear. I’ve actually seen violent perps make similar statements when physically restrained. Their motives for doing so are usually mis-guided. They think that you will cease the engagement, giving them space to get away from you, if they declare they have a lethal weapon. They are essentially trying to stimulate the brain’s “fight or flight” response, hoping the “flight” will win.

    If that was the case here, everyone in the vicinity could not run even if they wished (the building was horrendously packed) and they immediately began to strike and grapple Crites, hoping to prevent him from using the imaginary gun he claimed to have while repeatedly screaming “This guy has a gun!”.

    As far as my opinion of the reaction of the crowd, I think it makes sense on the instinctual level. With no opportunity to run from an individual who is threatening death or grave bodily injury, the only survivable action would me to try and incapacitate the threat as quickly as possible. Panic is a dangerous thing.

    From a legal standpoint, in the midst of a violent altercation, when your opponent claims to have the immediate ability to kill you, deadly force can be used in defense of yourself. For example if a person that is believed to be armed proclaims, “I’m going to kill you” and reaches in a pocket or waistband for a weapon it would be legally justifiable to kill them in self defense and it would not matter if they were actually armed with said weapon. This is why many police shootings are ruled as justified when they kill a suspect who ended up to be unarmed.

    I think the whole event was pretty sad but I’m glad it ended with nobody being permanently injured or killed. The violence between Trumps supporters and protesters has made all Americans look very childish and its very sad we cannot all hold our beliefs while respecting those of others.

  3. j. Edwards says:

    It doesn’t surprise me. Anyone who has worked as a first responder will tell you our media rarely gets the whole truth of any incident and almost every interview I’ve ever had with a news reporter showed a very different narrative when it was published.

    The investigation of the incident by the secret service yielded the same report from me as I shared here. Like with any happening, you could ask 5 different witnesses and get 5 different viewpoints. Just figured I’d share mine.

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