Monday, 2 Aug 2021

Washington protesters prepare for violence on streets ahead of election result

Fears of civil unrest are mounting in the capital, as people cast their ballots in the presidential election.

Businesses in cities across the US have been boarded up in anticipation of violence on the streets, which Donald Trump warned of if results were delayed.

Thousands of National Guard troops are on standby in several states, as far-right and far-left groups prepare for clashes.

Gun sales have soared in recent weeks, with background checks by the FBI topping 28 million this year – up 38% compared to last year.

With the nation bitterly divided over the race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, protest group Shut Down DC says it has been preparing for clashes with authorities should violence flare.

Representative Hope Neyer, 19, said: ‘Direct action is what we know and direct action is what we do.

‘It is something we’ve prepared for. We hosted protest health and safety training to teach us how to deal with everything from cold water to chemical weapons.

‘We’ve been working on de-escalation and assertive intervention, we have a research team who have attempted to identify people that may pose a threat to us.

‘We recognise that though it is a risk, it’s a risk we’re willing to take because of how important this moment is going to be for us.’

As the anti-fascist group prepares for violence, so too are right-wing armed militias.

Josh Ellis, 40, who runs a website coordinating these groups, said there were as many as 100,000 of them across the US.

He told The Sun: ‘No one is showing up in full battle-rattle with AR-15s. They will be watching out for fraud and intimidation.

‘Afterwards, we will have to see what happens. I can see the left coming out to the streets if they don’t get their way and the right coming out if there is conclusive evidence of fraud.’

It comes after Trump urged his supporters to keep an eye out for ‘fraud’ at the polls, but critics have said this is simply an attempt to intimidate voters, as low turnout would likely work in his favour.

The President has repeatedly hit out at mail-in ballots, with unsubstantiated claims that they are a scam.

A study by the Brennan Centre for Justice found the rate of voter fraud in the US is between 0.00004% and 0.0009%.

FBI Director Christopher Wray has said his agency has ‘not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise’.

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