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Violent threats ripple through far-right internet forums ahead of protest

NBC NEWS.COM January 6, 2021 – Online forums popular with conservatives and far-right activists have been filled in recent days with threats and expectations of violence ahead of a planned protest in Washington on Wednesday to coincide with congressional certification of the election.

In anticipation of possible violence, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked residents to stay away from the downtown area where protesters will be marching. Every city police officer will be on duty, and the National Guard has been mobilized.

“In regards to the protests planned for January 6th, the violent rhetoric we’re seeing online is at a new level,” said Daniel J. Jones, president of Advance Democracy Inc., a global research organization that studies disinformation and extremism.

“There are endorsements of violence across all of the platforms.”

A new report from Advance Democracy chronicled a wide variety of posts about the protests, including many that anticipated violence from other groups and called for people to arm themselves. On Twitter, QAnon-related accounts posted conspiracy theories alleging that Black Lives Matter and antifa activists were going to kill supporters of President Donald Trump at the protest and suggested that protesters arm themselves Wednesday, calling it “Independence Day.”

On TikTok, several videos with hundreds of thousands of views promoted violence at the rally. A user with a militia-related avatar told viewers to carry guns even though firearms are prohibited in the areas of the city where the demonstrations are taking place.

“Take your motherf—ing guns. That’s the whole point of going,” the person said. [full article]

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