A domestic terrorism expert says security requests from US candidates highlight the “potential for violence.”

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s request for Secret Service protection has highlighted the growing threat of violence in the lead-up to the 2024 US election.

Haley’s campaign said Monday that she had sought protection from the US Secret Service, a month after Haley was targeted in two emergency incidents, which involved calling a false emergency in the hopes it would trigger a heavily armed police response.

Monday, Wall Street Journal It noted an increase in the number of demonstrators at its events in recent days, protesting its support for providing additional aid to Ukraine and Israel. The newspaper noted that last week, a woman tried to rush to the stage at one of Haley’s campaign events before a member of her security guard intervened.

Terrorism analysts typically assess threats by considering several factors including intent, capacity and opportunity — and campaign season means opportunities abound, says Jacob Weir, a domestic terrorism scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations.

He added: “I think the intent to commit acts of violence is high across the political spectrum, but especially on the far right. And in the United States, we have always had the ability to commit acts of violence because of our gun laws.” “There is a very toxic mixture brewing with a high potential for violence in 2024 and beyond.”

Ware, who co-authored the book God, Guns, and Sedition: Far-Right Terrorism in AmericaHe says Haley’s request is not surprising given what he says is a growing number of threats against public figures across the political spectrum.

It also comes as the United States recorded its highest number of mass shootings in a single year, with more than 200 people killed in at least 38 mass shootings in 2023, according to an analysis by the World Health Organization. Watchman.

The reason the United States has avoided a successful high-profile political assassination in recent years is “thanks to luck, not a lack of desire,” Weir says.

He says that Haley being the target of the beating also underscores the fact that threats of violence can target both Republicans and Democrats.

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Threats move from the Internet to the real world

whip, a Dangerous practice which has Resulted in deathshas emerged from niche online communities and infiltrated the mainstream, with a sharp rise in incidents in recent years.

Maine Secretary of State Sheena Bellows was attacked days after she decided that Trump should be disqualified from the 2024 presidential election. Two judges who participated in Trump’s trials were also targeted. On Christmas morning, Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote on X, formerly of Twitter, “I just got beat up. This is like the 8th time.”

Armed attackers have tracked down political figures at least twice since the last elections.

In 2022, a man told a jury that he was influenced by far-right conspiracy theories and broke into the home of Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. She attacked her husband With a hammer, he was seriously injured. Earlier that year, a man armed with a gun told police he was disturbed by efforts to repeal abortion rights and ease gun restrictions, He broke into the house Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Last month, a Philadelphia man was accused of beheading his father, a longtime federal employee, and allegedly filmed a video showing the victim’s head while calling him a traitor to his country and calling for the killing of all federal officials.

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Violence ‘a clear and real concern’

The threat of violence is “a clear and real concern” in the run-up to revolution, says Melissa Dickman, a political scientist and executive director of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), which studies the influence of gender, religion and age on public opinion and political behavior. To the November elections.

An October PRRI poll found that 23 percent of Americans believe that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save the country.”

“You have political leaders like Donald Trump who are not willing to back down from this rhetoric — in fact, they are doing just the opposite,” Dickman said. He added, “In this context, I am not surprised to see that Nikki Haley is demanding more security.”

Secret Service protection is usually reserved for major candidates, and polls show Haley as the only candidate to win the Republican nomination. Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made several unsuccessful requests for Secret Service protection.

A man in a suit points his finger at the camera.
Trump attends a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa on December 19, 2023. The Republican presidential candidate has been accused of stoking violent rhetoric during the campaign. (Scott Morgan/Reuters)

Lawmakers’ spending on personal security has swelled since the January 6, 2021 attacks on the Capitol building in an attempt to overturn US President Joe Biden’s election victory.

according to Washington Post In the analysis, House and Senate candidates increased campaign spending on security by more than 500 percent between the 2020 elections and the 2022 midterms.

US lawmakers report on threat: survey

a reconnaissance by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy organization, polled more than 1,700 lawmakers and local officials in all 50 states. According to the results, more than 40 percent of state lawmakers said they had been threatened or assaulted in the past three years.

Nearly 90% of respondents to the survey, released in January, said they had been harassed, intimidated or stalked, and nearly one in 10 state legislators said they had been intimidated by someone with a gun.

About one in five state officials and twice that number of local officials said harassment made them less willing to work on controversial policies such as gun regulation or reproductive rights. Many also say they are now less likely to appear in public or post on social media.

A woman shouts while wearing a raincoat outside.
Tamara Perryman, wife of accused January 6 rioter Brian Jackson, speaks outside the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on January 6, during a protest in support of people charged with crimes related to the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Amanda Andrade Rhodes/Reuters)

The study found that women, especially women of color, are disproportionately likely to face severe abuse, including threats of a sexual nature and threats to their children.

The public hears loud opinions from the extreme ends of the political spectrum, including hate speech and violence that often takes root online, says Carmen Celestini, a postdoctoral fellow at Queen’s University’s School of Religion who studies religion, extremism, conspiracy theories and politics. .

She says this leads to people “dealing with each other angrily” rather than seeking compromise and understanding.

Conspiracy theories

According to Celestini, this rhetoric is often pushed by influencers in tight-knit online communities, and sometimes it reaches the point where one or more members decide to take action in the real world.

For example, Celestini cites a theory circulating online that suggests immigrants coming into the United States across the southern border will cause a civil war. She says this feeds the narrative that “there is no way out of this except through violence.”

She says many of Trump’s die-hard supporters believe he is God’s chosen candidate and frame political issues as a battle between good and evil, exacerbating the “moral panic” she says is happening around issues like immigration, critical race theory, 2SLGBTQ+ rights, and the amorphous. “Vigilance.”

“When they see people like Nikki Haley, it means they are someone who challenges the hero who is trying to save them,” Celestini said. “That makes them an enemy.”

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