Last week, the Russian invasion of Ukraine remained the largest driver of demonstration activity in the United States and Canada, as both countries continued to experience a swell in demonstration events in solidarity with Ukraine. Despite this continued activity, demonstration levels in the United States moderately decreased last week. Meanwhile, demonstration levels in Canada continued at similar levels compared to the week prior. In the United States, the decline in demonstrations is attributable to overall decreases in both pro-Ukraine and ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstrations. Nevertheless, pro-Ukraine demonstrations continued to make up the largest share of demonstration events in the United States, accounting for more than a third of all events. Militia and militant social movement activity in the United States increased last week, including their ongoing participation in ‘Freedom Convoy’ events.
Demonstrations showing solidarity with Ukraine continued to dominate the protest landscape in the United States last week, taking place in at least 39 states and Washington, DC. Meanwhile, demonstrations supporting the LGBT+ community increased. Many of these demonstrations centered around Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation, which aims to restrict school conversations about gender and sexuality, as well as a new Iowa law that bars transgender girls and women from participating in female sports (ABC, 7 March 2022; NBC, 3 March 2022).
Meanwhile, on 6 March, two people drove a stolen vehicle through a security checkpoint at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, failing to respond to guards’ orders. After guards deployed barriers to halt the car, both intruders fled the scene — one, an armed teenager, was apprehended, while the other managed to escape. The incident occurred around the same time Vice President Kamala Harris and five Cabinet members returned to Joint Base Andrews after attending other engagements earlier that day (NBC, 7 March 2022).
The following day, on 10 March, police investigated a bomb threat and “possible armed suspect” at Santa Ana High School in Santa Ana, California, a Latinx-majority school (Orange County Register, 10 March 2022). The school was temporarily locked down, and police found no evidence that the threat was credible. This incident comes after a spate of bomb threats against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Black majority K-12 schools, some of which have a substantial Latinx student population.
Militia and militant social movement activity in the United States increased last week compared to the week prior. Veterans on Patrol (VOP) carried out patrols along the US-Mexico border in southern Arizona. During their patrols, they reportedly encountered more than 70 migrants, 21 of whom they claim to have turned over to the US border patrol. VOP did not specify further details with regards to the other migrants that they encountered. Elsewhere in Arizona, two militia groups held recruitment events: the Yavapai County Preparedness Team (YCPT) held a recruitment event on 5 March in Cottonwood, and the Maricopa County Preparedness Team (MCPT), which typically holds recruitments online, hosted an in-person recruitment event in Surprise on 8 March.
On 5 March, around 700 people, including Three Percenters (III%), gathered in Olympia, Washington to demonstrate against pandemic-related restrictions (Seattle Times, 5 March 2022). On the same day, members of the Proud Boys, at least one Boogaloo adherent, and supporters of QAnon participated in the ‘People’s Convoy’ — a ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstration in Hagerstown, Maryland. On 6, 7, 8, and 10 March, the convoy drove from Hagerstown to Washington, DC, completed loops around the Capital Beltway, which surrounds the capital city, and returned to Hagerstown.
On 8 March, police arrested Enrique Tarrio, chairman of the Proud Boys, in Miami, Florida, for allegedly helping to plan the 6 January riot at the US Capitol. Tarrio was not physically present at the riots, however the Justice Department claims he conspired to “corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, the certification of the Electoral College vote” (NPR, 8 March 2022).
Meanwhile, openly white supremacist groups were also active last week, although only one event was reported. On 8 March, Patriot Front conducted a sparring training in eastern Massachusetts. Eastern Massachusetts is the most commonly reported site of Patriot Front trainings in the United States.
In Canada, pro-Ukraine demonstrations declined, but overall demonstration levels remained relatively steady due to a concurrent increase in demonstrations focused on honoring missing and murdered Indigenous women. Most of these demonstrations took place on 8 March, coinciding with the commemoration of International Women’s Day. Demonstrations against pandemic-related restrictions, including vaccines, remained relatively steady last week, continuing at levels far below the height of ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstrations in Canada that occurred in the preceding months.
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