Militia, Antifa, Facebook discussed on On The Media
Above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own board proof vests. Are wearing them. The black lives matter. Protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd. Peaceful protests met by armed men and Confederate flags and conspiracy theories of antifa, infiltrating white suburbs, Stay safe and locked and loaded. That's the warning in this Facebook post made Tuesday afternoon. Police call it a false rumor that claimed Antifa had three busloads of members ready to hit neighborhoods in. It's an interesting situation that we find ourselves in where America is heavily armed, right. Joan Donovan directs research at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. And there are a lot of folks right now who have been socially isolated for a very long period of time. And have been reaching out through social media because they don't know how to assess the risks posed by the pandemic political environment that we're in the heightened polarization. The increased visibility of these armed groups combined with the anxiety and anger about the news. Drove prospective recruits to right wing forums and Facebook groups where militia guys shared passwords with step by step instructions about how to join their zealot channels. And so you joined the group. And then the officers will invite you for an interview. That's you some questions about what area you're in Whatever sort of ideological requirements there are for joining. Said Militia. What interested you in the 3% movement where you heard about the I was actually approached conversation during a anti protests of Antifa and be alone and Brandon, Mississippi. All of you have the backing of your family doesn't know that you're on interview tonight. Man of the house. So You know if I need to go somewhere or do something that's gonna happen to be clear. Neither Hampton nor I ever pretended to be a militia guy or a potential recruit. We merely lurked in the background. So what do you got going experience? You got military law enforcement, medical everyone. Robert Military police. I know a lot about Weapons, munitions and a fair amount of gear. It's like a second job this us or tyranny. It's us or failure. It's us or post American world. Don't give to surf. Laugh about anybody. That's less than 100% off in. Are you all over on? Got nothing. Hold me back. If it kills me, it kills me. The ways in which those groups come together and do recruitment through platforms really has to do with them unapologetically believing. That they can actually become a proxy for law enforcement, Joan Donovan until I think the continuous engagements with one another through social media has really normalized. The notion of the vigilante vigilantes, of course, are not law enforcement. They're not accountable to the public or train to de escalate violence. That's why some observers shudder at the thought of armed militias, say Standing guard at polling stations in November. Monitoring Selo. We did hear some references to violence surrounding the election. But it was about how to react to it. We have to stay vigilant. Stay well trained and maintain our composure. So we don't ever fire that first shot that would kill us. Yeah, Roger that, sir. We fire the first shot. We're done. I mean, the public view is turning around about us, and that's the way we need to keep it. We don't need to do anything to tarnish that. They're fantasising again. Oh, there's going to be all this, You know, riots in the streets. We've got to be ready guys fingers, but they're not talking about themselves, going out there and doing it. Megan Squire, professor of computer science at Elon University. Has been tracking discussions of the election from far right groups online. The whole vigilante ism is couched in the language of protection. And that started in earnest with the reopen protest. So I'm gonna protect your business from the police who are trying to shut you down. And then I went to George flight. I'm gonna protect you from the looters and it's persisting now, like I'm gonna protect Trump from election meddling the idea that this vigilante ism is justified from a protection standpoint. Gout. That's terrifying because now they have a reason right? And it's the reason that makes him look like a hero. And then there's this growing body of evidence that some local police departments are enabling it. Hours before a Kyle Riton house shot three protesters, killing two In an alleged act of self defense. He and the Kenosha Garden local militia were think by law enforcement. They even offered the vigilantes bottles of water. Really.