Demonstration events in the United States and Canada decreased significantly last week amid a major drop in Ukraine solidarity demonstrations against Russia’s ongoing invasion. Pro-Ukraine demonstrations had been the largest driver of demonstration activity during the previous three weeks in both the United States and Canada. Nevertheless, demonstrations in support of Ukraine still accounted for about one in five demonstration events in the United States and about one in four demonstration events in Canada during the week. Demonstrations against pandemic-related restrictions also substantially decreased in the United States last week. However, demonstrations led by workers calling for better pay and working conditions increased slightly compared to the week prior, making up the largest share of demonstration events in the United States. Meanwhile, white nationalist, militia, and militant social movement activity in the United States increased last week.
In Canada, demonstrations in support of Ukraine remained the most frequent demonstration type last week, taking place in at least six provinces, despite demonstration levels decreasing significantly from the week prior. Meanwhile, demonstrations against pandemic-related restrictions fell to their lowest levels since the beginning of 2022. The drop came ahead of Ontario’s lifting of most COVID-19 restrictions on 21 March (Toronto Star, 9 March 2022).
Meanwhile, environmental groups last week demonstrated for the passage of the Just Transition Act, which aims to create more ‘green jobs’ and to reduce Canada’s usage of fossil fuels (Victoria News, 12 March 2022). These demonstrations mark the highest number of demonstration events by environmental groups in Canada since late November 2021, which saw a large number of anti-pipeline demonstrations led by First Nation Wet’suwet’en people.
In the United States, demonstration events in support of Ukraine decreased by more than two-thirds last week. Likewise, ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstration events decreased significantly last week, with activity largely confined to the Washington, DC area. However, last week also marked the largest number of demonstration events involving labor groups in the United States since mid-November 2021, as workers organized to call for better pay and improved working conditions.
Demonstrations against anti-LGBT+ legislative measures continued last week, though at substantially lower rates than the week prior. In Florida, demonstrations against ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation persisted while the bill awaited Governor Ron DeSantis’ signature (ABC News, 23 March 2022). Similarly, in Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott has directed gender-affirming care for transgender children to be investigated as possible child abuse, demonstrations around the topic continued (NPR, 1 March 2022). On 21 March, a Texas appeals court reinstated a temporary injunction preventing the state from investigating families seeking gender-affirming care (CNN, 21 March 2022).
Meanwhile, ‘Stop Asian Hate’ demonstrations took place in at least six states last week, commemorating the first anniversary of the Atlanta, Georgia spa shootings on 16 March 2021. Demonstrators also protested against rising incidents of anti-Asian violence across the United States throughout the pandemic (New York Times, 18 March 2022). Last week marks the highest level of demonstration activity against anti-Asian hate since late May 2021, toward the end of the initial surge in ‘Stop Asian Hate’ demonstrations.
On 14 March, campus operations were disrupted at Morehouse College, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), in Atlanta, Georgia, after the school received a bomb threat regarding a suspicious package. Nearby Spelman College, which is also an HBCU, asked students to remain clear of its campus as well, though a police investigation found no explosive devices (WSB-TV, 14 March 2022). This incident comes amid a spate of bomb threats against HBCUs and Black majority K-12 schools since the end of January.
Militia and militant social movement activity in the United States increased considerably last week compared to the week prior. On 12 March, Ammon Bundy, founder of People’s Rights and current Idaho independent gubernatorial candidate, was arrested for trespassing at a hospital in Meridian, Idaho, where he and a small group of supporters were demonstrating. Bundy had called for supporters to intervene in a case involving his friend, whose child was temporarily taken into Child Protective Services custody for medical treatment (Reuters, 12 March 2022). Bundy’s supporters demonstrated at hospitals and other locations in Boise, Idaho on 15, 16, and 17 March, before the child was released to his parents on 18 March (Idaho Press, 18 March 2022). Last week was the most active week for People’s Rights since ACLED coverage began in 2020.
Veterans on Patrol (VOP) continued to conduct patrols along the US-Mexico border near Sasabe, Arizona on 14, 16, and 18 March. During the patrols, VOP claimed to have detained 44 migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua — 26 of whom VOP claimed to have handed over to US Border Patrol. VOP did not specify what happened to the other migrants. Elsewhere in Arizona, the Verde Valley Preparedness Team held a recruitment and public information session in Verde Valley on 12 March, while the Chino Valley Preparedness Team held a similar meeting in Cottonwood on 12 March.
Meanwhile, the Proud Boys participated in an ‘Occupy Oregon Convoy’ rally against pandemic-related public health mandates and vaccines in Salem on 12 March. The next day, a group of Proud Boys dropped a banner that read “Fuck Antifa” in Sacramento, not far from where a banner that read “Fuck Proud Boys” was reportedly hung earlier that day (Twitter @PunksWLunchSac, 14 May 2022).
Openly white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups remained active in the United States last week as well. On 12 March, Patriot Front held a sparring training in eastern Massachusetts. In a series of coordinated actions on 12 March, a variety of groups dropped banners displaying the phrase “White Lives Matter” and other white supremacist messages. Among these actors was an unidentified group in Rancho Cordova, California; the Hoosier Nationalists in Jeffersonville, Indiana; and members of the Proud Boys and adherents of the Rise Above Movement in Newbury Park, California. The same day, National Socialist Movement members dropped “White Lives Matter” and “Defend New England” banners across Massachusetts, including in Quincy, Boston, Newton, and Salem. Lastly, members of the Goyim Defense League drove around San Diego, California in a rented U-Haul, which they draped with large anti-Semitic and white supremacist banners.
Finally, on 15 March, two people killed a Black Navy veteran by shooting and repeatedly stabbing him at a gas station in Tracy, California. San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar later stated that the victim was targeted based on his race (KCRA, 19 March 2022). At least one of those charged with the murder has a history of support for white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, and both face hate crime charges (Daily Beast, 21 March 2022).
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