April 17, 2021 07:02

Some Experts See ‘New Era of Violent Extremism’

Experts say the deadly insurrection at the Capitol marks the start of a new era of violent extremism and should serve as a wakeup call to those who have ignored the warnings. “It’s an absolutely new ballgame,” said Devin Burghart of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, which has tracked far-right activity for decades. “What was on display Wednesday in many respects is the beginning of a new movement, not the end of an old one.”  He said the nation’s response will determine whether the movement takes hold. “Left unchecked, this newly forming movement could become something far worse than any we’ve ever seen,” he says. Last week’s events “could look tame compared to what we could experience in the near future.”

Watchdog groups have been warning that violence could escalate before the November election and beyond. Burghart’s organization has tracked a sharp increase in paramilitary groups. Violence directed at government buildings has been on the rise. Among the most recent incidents occurred in Salem, Or., when Proud Boys, Three Percenters and militia activists invaded the state capitol. Burghart’s organization documented 45 “Stop the Steal” rallies that took place in 32 states on the day of the U.S. Capitol invasion. Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino said, “We had this locomotive train of ideology and subcultures, some of which were really different — but they all were looking at things like a purge, a storm, a Civil War.” Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said two images “that were the most shocking to me [were] the hangman’s noose on the western front of the Capitol … as well as people brandishing Confederate flags in the U.S. Capitol. We fought an entire Civil War to prevent exactly that from happening.”

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