Last week in the United States and Canada, demonstration activity remained stable in the United States and increased slightly in Canada, following a lull in activity the week prior. In Canada, labor demonstrations accounted for more than half of all demonstration events last week, roughly doubling in number compared to the week prior. Demonstrations led by Indigenous people also increased amid Pope Francis’s visit to the country, largely in relation to historical cases of abuse at Catholic-run residential schools in Canada. In the United States, labor demonstrations calling for better pay and working conditions made up the largest share of events last week. Meanwhile, ‘pro-choice’ demonstrations advocating for access to abortion were held in at least 27 states, making up the second-largest share of events. Reported far-right militia, militant social movement, and openly white supremacist activity continued at a stable rate last week compared to the week prior.
In Canada, Unifor-affiliated casino workers in Ontario held a series of rallies in Durham and Toronto last week to call for better working conditions and increased benefits. Meanwhile, Canadian farmers, many organized by Freedom Fighters Canada, held demonstrations to show solidarity with farmers in the Netherlands demonstrating against Dutch government plans to limit fertilizer use due to environmental concerns. Several of these demonstrations involved vehicles ‘slow rolling’ down highways and city streets to delay traffic, mirroring the style of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ rallies which paralyzed Canadian cities in February.
In the United States, abortion-related demonstrations continued to be one of the main drivers of demonstration activity last week. ‘Pro-choice’ demonstrations once again outnumbered ‘pro-life’ demonstrations last week by a factor of more than three-to-one. Notably, the largest share of ‘pro-choice’ demonstrations took place in Indiana, where legislation that would ban nearly all abortions in the state is currently being considered (Associated Press, 26 July 2022).
Two notable police violence incidents also took place last week. In Englewood, Colorado, a police officer fatally shot and killed an unarmed man on 24 July at his family’s home after responding to a call by the man’s mother who raised concerns that her elder son was intoxicated, armed, and suicidal. Police claim that after they arrived, the elder son fired at them and they returned fire, accidentally hitting and killing the unarmed younger son instead. However, the mother claims that her sons did not initiate the gunfire and an investigation into the shooting is ongoing (Fox31, 26 July 2022). In Oak Lawn, Illinois, an Arab-American teenager ran away from police with a bag during a traffic stop on 27 July after he was asked to exit a vehicle as officers searched it for marijuana. This led to a pursuit in which police restrained the teenager on the ground and punched him in the head and leg before tasing and handcuffing him despite him already being restrained. Police claim they had reasonable suspicion that the bag contained a weapon and later found a handgun inside it. A series of demonstrations against police brutality have occurred since the incident and an investigation is ongoing (Chicago Tribune, 28 July 2022).
Meanwhile, a man with an AK-47 was arrested on 29 July in Brooklyn, New York, after being pulled over by police near the home of prominent Iranian-American journalist and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad. Police report that the man was seen near Alinejad’s home during the week prior and had tried to break in through the door earlier in the day. Alinejad claims that she has been the target of an international kidnapping plot led by an Iranian intelligence network (CBS News, 2 August 2022; New York Times, 31 July 2022).
On 27 and 28 July, dozens of college campuses across Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, including several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), received bomb threats that led to evacuations (WLOX ABC, 27 July 2022; KATV7, 27 July 2022; Region 8, 27 July 2022; Clarion Ledger, 1 August 2022). While no explosive materials were found at any of the campuses, investigations are ongoing and one suspect has been identified in connection to the Mississippi threats (Clarion Ledger, 1 August 2022). It remains unclear whether these incidents are connected (for more on a similar series of bomb threats that targeted HBCUs and Black-majority schools in early 2022, see this ACLED fact sheet).
Reported activity by far-right militias and militant social movements remained largely stable last week compared to the week prior. On 23 July, the Yavapai County Preparedness Team held two recruitment meetings in the Arizona cities of Cottonwood and Chino Valley. On 24 July, members of the California State Militia’s Echo Company handed out food and recruitment material to people evacuating from the ongoing Oak Fire near Mariposa, California. One witness also reported that the organization created a de facto checkpoint along the road to the fire with military-style uniforms and trucks (Mercury News, 25 July 2022).
White supremacist activity also continued in the United States last week. On 23 July in Boston, Massachusetts, around 15 members of the Nationalist Social Club (NSC)-131 gathered outside a ‘drag queen story hour’ to rally against the event, holding anti-LGBT+ signs. Anti-fascists and other counter-demonstrators gathered nearby to support the LGBT+ community. The leader of NSC-131 and two anti-fascists were arrested for disturbing the peace (GBH, 27 July 2022). Far-right groups have been taking an increasingly large role in anti-LGBT+ mobilization in recent months, and anti-LGBT+ demonstrations have also become increasingly violent (for more on anti-LGBT+ mobilization in the United States, see this ACLED fact sheet). On 25 July, NSC-131 affiliates and counter-demonstrators again gathered, engaging in minor scuffles outside a Boston, Massachusetts, courthouse where the arrested leader of NSC-131 was being arraigned (WBZ NewsRadio, 25 July 2022). Members of Patriot Front also dropped banners promoting the organization at overpasses in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Bellingham, Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, in Warren, Michigan, a man shot three times at a Black man on 25 July, yelling racial slurs. The shots did not hit the target and the man suffered no injuries. After the perpetrator was arrested, police found Nazi memorabilia alongside shotguns, pistols, assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and a grenade shell (Fox2 Detroit, 29 July 2022).
Finally, the Goyim Defense League (GDL) carried out several flyer drops and participated in multiple demonstrations last week. During the Turning Point USA convention in Tampa, Florida, on 23 July, more than 100 people, including affiliates of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) and the GDL, marched in support of jailed Capitol rioters, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and ‘pro-life’ policies. Members of the NSM held flags with swastikas and other Nazi imagery, while GDL members distributed anti-Semitic flyers. During the demonstration, ‘pro-choice’ counter-demonstrators rallied against fascism and Governor DeSantis, leading to some minor scuffles between the two sides (Orlando Weekly, 25 July 2022). That same day, anti-Semitic flyers promoting the GDL were found in Long Beach, New York, as well as in Redding, California, on 24 July (News12, 23 July 2022; KRCR 26 July 2022).
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