Militia Watch, Kelsey Snell, NPR discussed on Morning Edition
Congressional correspondent Kelsey Snell. Thank you, Kelsi. Thank you so much for having me. How concerned should we be about the possibility of political violence After Election Day? Some experts are watching online chatter and see some people arguing for people to show up. Armed at the polls. NPR's Tim Mak has more Far right Militia style groups are busy this year. Their numbers are growing, their online cheddar is increasing and their threats are becoming more specific. Megan Squire is a computer science professor at Elon University who studies right wing extremism and online spaces. I would say the heat in the conversations that I observed, the heat is higher. The vitriol is greater. A mosaic of groups on the far right with different goals. Agree on one thing. That President Trump can only lose if the election is rigged. Hampton Stall is the founder of Militia Watch. Ah, blogged attracts the right wing militia movement. So there's circulation of rumors of left way intervention at the polls air in the election, which has led to individuals and militia groups, discussing primarily showing up armed at the poles to see if there's anything suspicious that they deem suspicious. A patchwork of federal and state laws against voter intimidation exists to protect the process and voting rights activists say that even if there is an increased risk of militia activity, it is important to keep it in perspective. The risk, says Jerry Hubert of the Campaign Legal Center is that people may be afraid to go to the polls. If there's too much hype around militia rhetoric is designed to maybe keep people from showing up because they fear that there might be some activity when in fact, it's just a chilling commentary, But the commentary in planning is getting harder to track online. Cassie Miller, a senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, says that while Facebook and Twitter have cracked down on these groups, they've moved the conversation to other places. You know, it becomes a lot harder for people like me and my colleagues to track them because Will you watch them kind of splinter and other places other places like fringe social media networks that are more permissive of their content and to discussion boards where militia members can meet and organize. It's hard to predict how much online threats could spill into real world violence, but there are efforts to assess the risk of militia activity. Backlit, a crisis mapping project teamed up with militia watch to map out potential hot spots for malicious style activities around the elections. The report, exclusively obtained by NPR looks at states where militias have had recruitment drives in training where they have cultivated relationships with law enforcement and where there have been substantial engagement in anti Corona virus lock down protests. Hey says that five states Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Oregon have the highest risk of seeing increased militia activities around the elections, everything from demonstrations to potential violence. Stall who worked on this report said. One of the reasons he is so alarmed now is because of how the members of militias are talking. There's a lot more sort of worst case scenario, thinking that is leading to Fantasising about like violence like very riel militarized action That hasn't really been a cz widespread and the militia movement as it is now, the threats by malicious style groups have been growing in number, vitriol and specificity. Culminating in events like the alledged.