Demonstration levels in the United States decreased last week, underpinned by a decline in labor-related demonstrations following a significant spike the week prior. Similarly, demonstration events against sexual violence declined significantly last week after a spike in student-led demonstrations during the previous week. Meanwhile, demonstration events related to the COVID-19 pandemic also declined slightly, though demonstrations against pandemic-related restrictions marginally increased. Pandemic-related demonstrations accounted for the largest share of demonstration events last week. Finally, fewer militia training and patrol events were recorded last week compared to the week prior, while QAnon supporters, Proud Boys, Three Percenters, and the Goyim Defense League (GDL) participated in several demonstrations.
Demonstrations related to the COVID-19 pandemic accounted for roughly one-third of all demonstration events last week. Many of these demonstrations involved workers, including healthcare workers, demonstrating against a federal vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees. Under the federal mandate, which is expected to cover an estimated 84 million workers, workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by 4 January 2022 (NPR, 4 November 2021). Workers also demonstrated against state and municipal vaccine mandates, including in New York City, where a coronavirus vaccination deadline for city employees passed on 1 November (New York Times, 20 October 2021). Demonstrations against the New York City vaccine mandate occurred in Manhattan and Staten Island, both preceding and following the mandate deadline.
Reported militia activity declined last week compared to the week prior, though militia groups continued to carry out patrols and training events. Veterans on Patrol continued patrol activity along the US-Mexico border in southern Arizona. The group claimed to have detained several migrants and handed them over to US Border Patrol, including at least two children. This is the first reported handover of migrants detained by Veterans on Patrol into Border Patrol custody since 4 October (Telegram @BorderWarsAZ, 4 October 2021). It follows a pattern of reported cooperation between Border Patrol and Veterans on Patrol (SPLC, 29 July 2021).
Meanwhile, Patriot Front held trainings in north Oklahoma and west Texas last week. This marks the first report of Oklahoma-based training for Patriot Front since the beginning of ACLED coverage in 2020. ACLED first recorded a Patriot Front training event on 25 September 2021 in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Since then, Patriot Front trainings have been most frequently reported in Texas, with training events occurring in central, west, and north Texas.
On 30 October, the California State Militia’s Echo and Dog companies provided ‘security’ for a ‘Patriots United Freedom Rally’ organized by the Stanislaus County Republican Party in Ceres, California, in opposition to coronavirus vaccines (Ceres Courier, 3 November 2021). Three Percenters and Proud Boys also attended the rally as demonstrators. This is the first report of the California State Militia providing security at a demonstration event since 26 September 2020 (Merced Sun-Star, 26 September 2020). However, the California State Militia has actively engaged in trainings, recruitments, and demonstrations throughout 2021.
The Proud Boys participated in multiple demonstrations last week. In addition to the California event, on 31 October, Proud Boys also participated in at least three Florida-based demonstrations in Palm Beach, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale (Twitter @MIAgainstFash, 31 October 2021). At the Fort Lauderdale demonstration, Proud Boys rallied in support of former President Donald Trump. In Miami, Proud Boys demonstrated in support of the US embargo against Cuba, as another group of demonstrators opposed the embargo. On 5 November, Proud Boys were present at a demonstration in Beloit, Wisconsin, over unsubstantiated reports that a teacher had taped a mask to a student’s face (Beloit Daily News, 5 November 2021).
On 1 and 2 November, QAnon adherents gathered in Dallas, Texas, in anticipation of the return of the late John F. Kennedy, Jr., despite his death in a plane crash in 1999 (Houston Chronicle, 2 November 2021). According to a QAnon conspiracy theory, Kennedy is believed to have been in “hiding for 22 years” (Independent, 4 November 2021). Some demonstrators claimed that former President Trump would be reinstated as president upon Kennedy’s re-emergence, after which he would step down and instate Kennedy as president. No such sequence of events occurred.
The openly white supremacist GDL was also active last week. On 30 October, GDL held a demonstration espousing anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT beliefs in Houston, Texas (Twitter, @PegasusAFA, 30 October 2021). The demonstration comes less than a week after the first reports of GDL activity in Texas since ACLED coverage began in 2020 (Twitter @TwitmoWolf, 27 October 2021; Twitter @DSRWnews, 23 October 2021). Both of these events supported anti-Semitic beliefs.
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