Demonstration activity decreased moderately in the United States and remained at similar levels in Canada last week. In the United States, demonstration levels tempered slightly, following a spike in activity the week prior after the leak of a Supreme Court draft majority opinion that argues in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade. Nevertheless, demonstration activity in the United States last week significantly outpaced April’s weekly average, as continued demonstrations supporting access to abortion made up the largest share of events by a wide margin. Meanwhile, labor issues and Indigenous causes — including the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) movement — were the primary drivers of demonstration activity in Canada last week. Finally, far-right militia, militant social movement, and white nationalist activity increased last week.
In Canada, labor demonstrations continued in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Quebec, with protesters calling for pay increases, better working conditions, and changes in fuel costs. Meanwhile, demonstrations in solidarity with the MMIW movement continued last week as well, though at lower levels than the week prior. Most of these events centered around ‘Moose Hide Campaign Day’ on 12 May, a movement in support of women victims of gendered violence in Canada (Edmonton CityNews, 13 May 2022).
In the United States, abortion-related activism continued to be the primary driver of demonstration activity, despite the number of events declining by around a third compared to the week prior. ‘Pro-choice’ demonstrations outnumbered ‘pro-life’ demonstrations by a factor of more than five to one, continuing a recent trend that signals a wider shift in abortion-related demonstration patterns. ‘Pro-life’ demonstrations also continued at elevated rates, despite decreasing compared to the week prior. Notably, high school and university students participated in more than a third of all ‘pro-choice’ demonstrations last week. In Virginia, Generation Ratify Virginia, a youth-led equal rights movement, coordinated a series of ‘pro-choice’ school walk-outs and accompanying demonstrations in at least 21 different cities (ABC7, 9 May 2022).
While the vast majority of abortion-related demonstrations did not result in violence, on 7 May, an unknown driver intentionally drove into a crowd and hit a demonstrator who was guarding the crowd from traffic in a ‘pro-choice’ demonstration in Atlanta, Georgia (Twitter @AtlantaJustice, 7 May 2022). Outside of demonstrations, on 8 May, Wisconsin Family Action, a ‘pro-life’ religious organization in Madison, was damaged by two fires, including one caused by a Molotov cocktail. A message spray-painted on the side of the building read, “if abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” (ABC News, 10 May 2022). Local groups, including Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, condemned the attack (WKOW, 9 May 2022).
Several religion-, race-, and gender-related violent incidents occurred in the United States last week, including attacks on women and people from the Jewish and Asian-American communities. The incidents contributed to the 34% increase in violence in the United States over the past month relative to the past year flagged by ACLED’s Conflict Change Map. On 7 May, a rabbi was attacked by a person who yelled anti-Semitic remarks in Brooklyn, New York. Also in Brooklyn, three days later, a Jewish student was punched in the face by five men who yelled “free Palestine” during the attack (Yid Info, 10 May 2022). This attack comes after an increase in tensions between Israel and Palestine in April and May. ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in New York in the past month.
In Texas, a Korean-owned hair salon in Dallas was attacked on 11 May when a man opened fire and injured at least seven women and one man, all of whom were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Police are investigating this attack in connection with other recent shootings in the area that appear to have targeted Asian-American businesses (NBC News, 13 May 2022). Elsewhere on the same day, a man attacked three women in Santa Ana, California, in what authorities believe was a hate crime (My News LA, 13 May 2022).1The deadly racially motivated attack in Buffalo, New York, on 14 May will be covered in next week’s Regional Overview; this Regional Overview covers events between 7 and 13 May 2022.
Far-right militias and militant social movement activity increased last week. In Arizona, the Verde Valley Preparedness Team (VVPT) and the Maricopa County Preparedness Team (MCPT), both offshoots of the Oath Keepers, held informational recruitment events on 7 May in Cottonwood and on 10 May in Surprise, respectively. Elsewhere in Arizona, Veterans on Patrol (VOP) conducted a patrol along the border with Mexico near Sasabe. Far-right militia and militant social movement activity in Arizona more than doubled from 2020 to 2021, making it the state with the greatest increase in such activity in the country. Thus far this year, Arizona has been home to more events involving far-right groups than any other state.
White nationalist groups were also active last week. On 7 May, members of the Aryan Freedom Network (AFN) rallied in Austin, Texas, displaying Confederate and neo-Nazi paraphernalia. On the same day, demonstrators waving Swastika-emblazoned flags gathered near Disney World in Orlando, Florida, to rally against “grooming” and in support of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation, which restricts classroom discussions around sexual and gender identity; Disney’s CEO has denounced the legislation (Vice, 9 May 2022). The Nationalist Social Club (NSC) demonstrated in Boston, Massachusetts, on 7 May against what they called “anti-white attacks.”
Additionally, Patriot Front (PF) held a sparring training in north Texas on 7 May as well as a series of banner drops on 9 May at overpasses in Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. The banners promoted the group, and some also displayed anti-vaccine messages. The Goyim Defense League (GDL) distributed anti-Semitic flyers in the Eagle Bluff neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas, on 8 May, continuing a trend of increased flyering and offline propaganda. In Idaho, demonstrators supporting White Lives Matter (WLM) rallied on 11 May in Lewison and on 13 May at the University of Idaho in Moscow, holding a sign reading “ITS GREAT TO BE WHITE [sic]” (for more on far-right activity in the United States, see ACLED’s Far-Right Violence and the American Midterm Elections).
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