Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday October 30, 2020
Far-right militias heed Trump’s call for poll watchers, and law enforcement is worried
Far-right militia promoter Josh Ellis can reach more than 20,000 members across the country in a matter of keystrokes. Many followers believe, like him, that the presidential election could be hijacked by leftists, a Trump defeat would plunge the nation into tyrannical rule, and the United States is lurching toward a violent civil war.
Ellis, who operates MyMilitia.com and goes by “AR2,” for “American Revolution 2.0,” has advised like-minded citizens to stand guard at voting stations Tuesday as part of President Trump’s “army” of poll watchers — and, if necessary, to use force.
“They are to be out there as patriots, not militias,” Ellis, of suburban Chicago, said in a phone interview before he addressed an “American Patriot Rally” last Saturday in Florida.
“But if they see immediate danger of physical harm to someone,” he said, “they need to intercede and stop it.”
The country is on high alert in the countdown to Election Day. In a hair-trigger time of guns and grievances, anarchists and vigilantes, COVID-19 restrictions and conspiracy theories, the nation’s law enforcement agencies, election protection specialists, and watchdog groups are closely monitoring militant extremists on the right and left while bracing for rogue acts of violence.
“There is a serious threat that militias and armed vigilantes will be at polling places and will pose a danger to voters,” said Cassie Miller, a senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremists and hate groups.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a report Oct. 6 warning that violent domestic extremists “might target events related to the 2020 presidential campaigns, the election itself, election results, or the post-election period.”
Two days later, the danger was crystalized when the FBI foiled an alleged plot by 14 suspects tied to the paramilitary Wolverine Watchmen militia to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat sharply criticized by Trump, and try her for treason over her pandemic-driven shutdowns. (Boston Globe)