“Where’s Nancy?” A man made his way Friday into the San Francisco home of the head of the House of Representatives, second in line in the US presidential succession after the vice president, and asked about Nancy Pelosi. She wasn’t there, but he was looking for her and attacked the lawmaker’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 will hang you. ”Another man, a few days ago, left his Threat of death to the Arizona Attorney General, charged with overseeing the November 8 election.
Earlier, candidate for governor of that state, Katie Hobbs, who is leading a strong contest against a candidate who does not recognize Joe Biden’s victory in 2020, complained that she received “hundreds of threats” against her and her. family. On Friday, a group of strangers broke into her office and stole her documents.
In a key Arizona county, Maricopa, election officials last week reported seeing hooded men in military clothing very close to a polling station anticipated. The masked men photographed the voters.
In Florida, a Republican militant was beaten to death while handing out brochures near a Democratic rally. Later it was learned that the man who was attacked had been member of a group of white supremaciststhe Southern League.
And there are many others. The attack on Pelosi’s husband is just one in a series of dark episodes, a taste of the violent and hostile climate that we live in a large part of the United States, when there are only a few days left until the elections on 8 November to elect 435 representatives, 34 senators and 36 governors.
This is the first major vote in the United States since the scandalous defeat of former President Donald Trump in 2020, amid allegations of fraud that have never been 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 unfortunately, others are encouraged by the example, “he said Clarione Christopher Arterton, professor and political campaigner at Georgetown University.
“I think the elections have become more dangerous because some may see it as a call to arms. Given the availability of weapons in our society, it takes a lot of dangerous people to cause real violence. “
A Reuters-Ipsos poll released Wednesday found that 43 percent of Americans are “concerned about threats of violence or intimidation of voters while voting in person” and two-thirds fear that “extremists will commit violence after they vote.”
Joe Biden’s Concern
“There is too much violence, political violence, too much hatred,” Biden said in an election speech Friday night. “And what makes us think that a party could talk about stolen elections? Is Covid a hoax? They are all a bunch of lies,” she added.
Biden’s top national security officials are monitoring multiple threats to the nation’s electoral security infrastructure ahead of the election and put together an intelligence bulletin this week, Politico reported.
The document sets 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 high alert for the potential outbreak of violence in response to the dissemination of false narratives on the results. Officials said politicians and election workers, including those working in polling stations, risk facing increasing threats and harassment from extremists both online and in person.
“We now hear reports of people surrounding the polls, some even in tactical gear, and interrogating people,” said John Cohen, the former head of counterterrorism at the Department of Homeland Security.
“Are the police ready for this? They have to be. All of this is driven by the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen,” he added.
Officials consider disinformation and disinformation the biggest threat for elections, given how easy it would be for extremists, be they domestic supporters or foreign intelligence agents, to take advantage of delayed results or isolated failures of the electoral machine to spread lies about the security of the trial.
According to a recent Axios-Ipsos poll, about 40 percent of Republicans and a quarter of Democrats would blame the fraud if their party doesn’t gain control of Congress on November 8.
Yotam Ophir, a communications professor at the University of Buffalo, New York, and an expert on disinformation, conspiracy theories and extremism, said Clarione that “the threats of violence had increased since the events of January 6, and it is difficult not to associate the horrible attack on the house of the Pelosi with the next mid-term elections”.
The expert added that “public figures, including politicians and journalists, must act responsibly when they talk about these events. It is understandable that the media want to tell it, as it should, but it has to be done with care and sensitivity. We don’t want to. encourage imitations or glorify undemocratic behavior “.
Arterton warned that “far-right armed vigilantes are already showing up in places where early voting is taking place. Inevitably, there will be clashes 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 lawyers and observers on election day in an effort to reduce systematic discouragement from voting. I hope the local police are vigilant to deal with any situation that arises, “she 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 ignite their supporters. When people feel that their votes and opinions don’t matter, they feel deprived of civil rights and this could and has led to violence in the past. “
“The development of events depends on the results of the elections, the reaction of political figures and the existence or not of incitement to speech in the media”, concluded the academician.