Anti-LGBTQ protests rise 300%, ‘strongly’ tied to violence

  • Right-wing extremists have staged at least 55 protests targeting LGBTQ people this year, ACLED reported.
  • This is an increase from just 16 such protests in 2021, an increase of more than 340%
  • According to ACLED, a watchdog group, far-right activity is “strongly” linked to violence.

Across the country, armed right-wing extremists showed up in libraries and churches to intimidate parents and children who attended drag queen storytimes. Groups such as the Proud Boys confuse the reading of books by members of the LGBTQ community with the predatory “grooming” of children.

Hospitals providing gender-affirming care have received death threats after being targeted by social media influencers like Chaya Raichik, the former real estate agent who runs the “Libs of TikTok” account on Twitter, and featured in prime-time rants by Fox News Carlson’s Tucker.

Other easy targets for the hard right have included gay pride parades. Over the summer, 31 members of the neo-Nazi Patriot Front were arrested in Idaho after a concerned citizen said he saw them loading a U-Haul with what appeared to be a “small army” of men in riot gear.

In late November, far-right activists took part in at least 55 public actions targeting members of the LGBT+ community – up from 16 the previous year, an increase of around 340% – with a corresponding increase in violent attacks against people perceived to be gay or transgender, according to a report released this week by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, or ACLED.

Overt white nationalism is still the most common feature of far-right protests and militia activity, according to the group, which began monitoring America’s far-right in 2020 after years of reporting on political violence in the US. ‘foreign. Of the roughly 750 far-right events that have taken place this year – on track to surpass the 780 held in 2021 – some 21% have been explicitly racist in nature, a finding that comes after the FBI released a report warning that white supremacists continue to “pose the primary threat” of domestic terrorism, accounting for more than half of all politically motivated killings over the past decade.

While racism remains the main driver of the far-right, anti-LGBTQ actions have ‘fueled the largest increase in far-right protest activity’, the report says, with the increase in such activity being ‘sharply’ correlated with an increase in violent attacks, including as many as 20, including the murder last month of five people at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs. Although we don’t have a specific motive, the suspect has a history of online and offline fanaticism.

Such deadly attacks are often carried out by self-proclaimed vigilantes who are not officially members of any far-right group, Roubadeh Kishi, research director at ACLED, said in an interview. But where these groups are most active is tied to where the attacks then take place.

“They were inspired by the rhetoric they could see online and the mobilization they could see offline,” Kishi said. “These people then decide to take matters into their own hands and engage in violence.”

It is almost impossible to link an act of violence to a specific instance of hate propaganda to which the perpetrator was exposed. It is also difficult to pinpoint the beginning of the latest moral panic: are extremists on the fringes increasing anti-LGBTQ activity because of its established prominence as an issue within the mainstream right, or are they in fact the engine of the conversation?

“The reality is there’s a bit of a feedback loop here,” Kishi told Insider. If a mainstream platform broadcasts an attack on a minority group, radicals will increase their activity around that type of attack as a means of recruitment – ​​while perhaps masking their other views, such as organizing under the pretext of simply defending “freedom of expression”. “, a strategy known as entryism (ACLED data shows that, despite such rhetorical appeals to the First Amendment, a far-right presence at a protest makes that protest “nearly five times more likely to become violent or destructive”).

The question of the day will change over time. In 2020, it was pandemic restrictions, Black Lives Matter and false claims of voter fraud. In 2021, anti-racism in education, dubbed “Critical Race Theory,” was the issue that brought mainstream conservatives and right-wing extremists together. In light of a generally disappointing 2022 election for candidates who dwelt on sex and gender issues, next year will likely bring something different – ​​if not entirely new (think “politically correct ” in the 1990s becomes a “revival” in the 2020s).

“It usually ends up being a resurgence of some kind of old narrative, presented in a new way,” Rishi said.

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