Analysts See Increase in Street Clashes Nationwide

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Street clashes across the nation involving combinations of protesters, police, federal forces, extremists and provocateurs, plus the stressors of the pandemic and a looming election, lead terrorism analysts to predict that worse is still to come, reports NPR. “I think we are coming into very dangerous waters over the next couple of months,” said Seth Jones of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “This has the potential for larger numbers and amounts of street violence between groups and networks on opposing sides. This is serious. I haven’t seen this kind of domestic terrorism threat, really, in my lifetime.” Analysts say far-right and anti-government agitators either are attacking protesters or trying to join their cause to push their own agendas. Other extremists see a chance to trigger a violent revolution; still others, a race war. Guns are increasingly visible on the protesters’ side too. Armed anti-fascist groups and Black gun clubs have become self-proclaimed community defense forces.

House Democrats accused Attorney General William Barr this week of ignoring the far-right threat. Like President Donald Trump, Barr blames the violence at protests on armed anarchists and other leftist radicals. Barr told lawmakers that peaceful protests over racial inequality have been “hijacked.” “This becomes very dangerous in who is being read as an enemy, who is read as engaged in criminal activity, and when the federal government can use its considerable power to shut down public dissent,” said Ashley Howard, an assistant professor of history and African American studies at the University of Iowa. She said protests in the 1960s also drew an extreme backlash. With the organizing power of social media and guns in so many hands, this era is different.

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