While overall demonstration levels in the United States remained stable last week compared to the week prior, demonstration events for and against access to abortion increased substantially, making up the largest share of demonstrations, followed by pandemic-related demonstrations. Demonstrations against the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, which comprised the majority of demonstration events the week prior, dropped off almost entirely. Meanwhile, demonstration events led by labor groups moderately increased and comprised the third-largest share of all demonstration events. Finally, militias and militant social movements reportedly carried out patrol, recruitment, and training events last week.
Abortion-related demonstrations reached their highest levels last week since the week of the Women’s March in October, with demonstration events in favor of access to abortion outnumbering those against nearly two to one. This spike in demonstration activity coincides with ongoing Supreme Court deliberations on a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which commenced on 1 December. The Mississippi law directly opposes the core holding of Roe v. Wade (New York Times, 1 December 2021). The majority of abortion-related demonstrations last week mentioned Roe v. Wade explicitly, with most supporting the landmark 1973 decision. Additionally, around one in three demonstrations over abortion access last week were counter-demonstrations — with such demonstrations making up the majority of counter-demonstrations last week more largely — pointing to increased tensions over abortion access (for more on abortion-related demonstrations in the United States, see this ACLED infographic).
Meanwhile, police were involved in a high-profile shooting in Tucson, Arizona, last week. On 29 November, a police officer shot and killed Richard Lee Richards, a 61-year-old man using a mobility scooter, after responding to a shoplifting call outside of a Walmart. The officer had ordered Richards, who was holding a knife, to stop advancing into a different nearby store before firing nine shots into his back and side as he was moving away from the officer. The officer handcuffed Richards while he was unresponsive and rendered medical care for a brief period before Richards was declared dead (CBS News, 1 December 2021). Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus later said that the officer’s use of deadly force constituted a “clear violation of department policy” and said the department had terminated his employment (New York Times, 30 November 2021).
Proud Boys activity dropped to its lowest reported level since the week of 11 September 2021. On 27 November, about 20 members of the Proud Boys distributed literature about the group’s ideology in Rockville Centre, New York, in what was the only reported Proud Boys activity last week (Twitter @HamptonStall, 27 November 2021).
On 29 November 2021, Veterans on Patrol (VOP) patrolled along the US-Mexico border near Sasabe, Arizona. During the patrol, members of the group encountered a child from Guatemala, who they turned over to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents.1 A Telegram channel belonging to Veterans on Patrol reported on 30 November that the group had “a 15 year old Child from Guatemala [sic]… in Sasabe, Arizona” who they “were able to hand over… to Border Patrol.” VOP has reported handing detained migrants over to CBP at least once a month since May, with the exception of August, when no such reports occurred. This contradicts CBP claims that they do not condone “any private group or organization” conducting border patrols (SPLC, 2 December 2021).
Meanwhile, the Yavapai County Preparedness Team (YCPT), an offshoot of the Oath Keepers, reportedly held a recruitment and public information meeting in Chino Valley, Arizona, on 27 November. This was the fifth reported recruitment meeting held by YCPT in November 2021, marking the highest number of reported YCPT recruitments in a single month since ACLED coverage began in January 2020.
Openly white supremacist groups were also active last week. On 27 November, the Patriot Front held a training event in eastern Massachusetts.2 A Patriot Front Telegram channel shared images from the training on 27 November. November marks the highest number of reported Patriot Front training events per month with six events — occurring at least twice as frequently compared to recent months. Also on 27 November, members of the Nationalist Social Club gathered outside of a Black Lives Matter (BLM) headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, at night, after it was closed, resulting in no reported engagement with BLM-affiliated individuals.3On 27 November, a Telegram channel associated with the Nationalist Social Club shared an image of Ocean State 131 members outside the Pawtucket BLM headquarters
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