For the last week, there has been talk of post-election violence in response to the results of the presidential election. No matter who won, there would be enough anger on both sides that would lead to extreme unrest. Both sides have people that are willing to do almost anything to protect what they believe in. Will this unrest lead to violence, and if so, is it normal?
There were already concerns regarding the safety of the vote counting centers in the past few days by Trump supporters who didn’t believe the reports of vote counts in flip states, such as Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia, there were people outside a voting center carrying guns and protesting. In Phoenix, over 150 Trump supporters waited outside of a voting center and were chanting “Count the vote!” Many of these protestors also carried guns and flags.
Businesses began boarding up their shops last week. In Raleigh, there was a protest planned for Oct. 30 that had businesses locking down their stores, and a lockdown was put in place. Many businesses choose to leave those boards up in preparation for possible protests and rioting during election week.
Have there been any elections that had a similar level of distrust, anger and violence associated with them? Apparently, this is not a common situation.
There have been events, including anti-war marches; the uproar after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.; anger after Richard Nixon was elected, and that election was even called a “hoax” but for very different reasons than for a fault in the voting system; the Brooks Brothers riot; and in the 19th century, the secession of seven southern states and the start of the Civil War. However, none of these really occurred before and immediately after the president-elect was named.
The closest thing found to our current situation was after William McKinley was elected in 1896. Supporters of the opposing candidate, William Jennings Bryan, gathered in Chicago and were essentially rioting. Violence occurred during these riots that led to people getting injured and bruised up. There were also some parades in the streets of New York City.
There have been guides posted on social media for how people at greater personal risk of harm or harassment can avoid and deal with any possible dangers coming from post-election rioting. This social media campaign advised women and, particularly, minorities to do their necessary shopping before Election Day, have their necessary medications ahead of time, to leave their homes in groups of four or more people and to stay aware of their surroundings at all times.
NC State’s campus is located near downtown Raleigh, and the general population spends a lot of time in and around our campus. It is very possible that it could be a place where these minority groups could be targeted by a lot of people. Chancellor Randy Woodson sent an email out to students titled “A message about the upcoming election,” in which he expresses his hopes for how our campus will deal with the election.
“I urge everyone in our community to be leaders in demonstrating civility and respect for each other on and off campus,” Woodson said. “No matter where your political ideals lie, let’s not forget we are one Wolfpack.”
I have been very worried this week about people that I am close to that are in these groups. My boyfriend is mixed, half-Hispanic, half-white, but you cannot tell from appearance alone that he is mixed. Someone on the street would assume he is Hispanic. For the first time ever, I have been the one who is walking him to his car to make sure he gets there safely. Usually it is the other way around.
This is not normal! The current president has not asked any of his supporters to stand down and stop bringing firearms to protest outside of the voting centers. In fact, he really just eggs it on. President-elect Joe Biden has told the country to stay calm. I think we will see the new president encouraging the citizens of our country to treat our president and all future presidents just like another citizen, rather than some kind of higher power like many of Trump’s supporters do.