Last week in the United States and Canada, demonstration activity decreased slightly in the United States and increased slightly in Canada. Labor demonstrations made up the largest share of events last week in both Canada and the United States. In the former, demonstrations for environmental causes made up the second-largest share of events. Meanwhile, a mass grave was discovered near the former Pine Creek residential school in Manitoba. In the United States, demonstrations against a search by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on 8 August made up the second-largest share of demonstration events. Following the Mar-a-Lago search, an individual attempted to breach the FBI’s offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, leading to a car chase and eventually a shoot-out with police in which the individual was killed. Finally, reported far-right militia activity, militant social movement, and openly white supremacist activity remained stable last week compared to the week prior.
In Canada, labor demonstrations calling for better pay and working conditions made up roughly a third of all events last week, with labor groups demonstrating in British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and Quebec. Several demonstration events related to environmental causes also took place last week. On 10 August, one participant in an anti-fracking demonstration in Vancouver, British Columbia, was arrested for vandalism when she poured molasses over the city’s iconic Gastown steam clock (National-Regional, 11 August 2022).
Meanwhile, on 8 August, 14 graves were discovered at the former Pine Creek residential school in Pine Creek, Manitoba, using ground-penetrating radar (CBC, 8 August 2022). This marks at least the seventh mass grave site discovered in Canada since the beginning of 2022, and it is the second set of graves found at the Pine Creek residential school. The discovery of mass graves at former residential school sites has been a significant driver of demonstration activity led by the First Nations community in Canada.
In the United States, labor demonstrations made up the largest share of demonstration events last week, making up roughly one in every three demonstrations. The United Farm Workers continued a 24-day march, which began on 3 August, through California, from Delano to Sacramento, to call on California Governor Gavin Newsom to sign legislation to streamline the unionization process for farmworkers (Sacramento Bee, 16 August 2022). Meanwhile, Starbucks workers continued to demand higher pay and to hold pro-union rallies last week, with demonstrations in at least six states.
On 8 August, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, former President Trump’s residence and private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The search was part of an investigation into the alleged possession of classified and sensitive documents in potential violation of the Espionage Act. According to some reports, nuclear weapons information may have been among the 11 sets of documents that were recovered by the FBI (CNN, 12 August 2022; Washington Post, 11 August 2022).
In response to the FBI search, demonstrations in support of former President Trump, and at least one incident of violence targeting the FBI, took place last week. On 11 August, a navy veteran armed with an assault rifle, body armor, and a nail gun attempted to breach the visitor screening facility at an FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio. After triggering an alarm, the gunman fled in a vehicle down Interstate 71 and shot at a state trooper pursuing him, before engaging in a stand-off with law enforcement near Wilmington, Ohio. Though officers tried to negotiate and use less-than-lethal ammunition, these methods were unsuccessful and the man was fatally shot (NPR, 11 August 2022). The gunman had previously posted a threat on Truth Social, a social media network founded by Trump, in which he called for federal officers to be killed “on sight” following the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence (Washington Post, 12 August 2022). Additionally, some media reports suggest he was likely tied to a pro-Trump organization and that he may have participated in the Capitol riot in January 2021 (AP, 12 August 2022; New York Times, 11 August 2022).
A number of violent attacks on civilians were also reported in the United States last week. On 7 August, a group of teenagers attacked a pair of gay men in Washington, DC, using an anti-LGBT+ slur relating to monkeypox before punching them several times. The victims were hospitalized, and one received stitches. Authorities are investigating this incident as a potential hate crime (WTOP Radio, 9 August 2022; WUSA9, 9 August 2022). Meanwhile, on 9 August, a gunman opened fire on two Black men while they were assisting somebody with a car repair in a church parking lot in Macon, Georgia. The perpetrator racially abused the men and accused them of stealing copper, before firing at them with a shotgun and chasing them to a nearby Walmart. The victims’ car was damaged by a bullet, and an investigation is ongoing (13WMAZ, 12 August 2022). On 12 August, novelist Salman Rushdie was stabbed multiple times on stage while giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, resulting in serious injuries. Rushdie is the author of the 1989 novel The Satanic Verses — a book that some Muslims consider to be offensive and which led then-Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa and offer a bounty for Rushdie’s death. A 24-year-old suspect was taken into custody following the attack (New York Times, 12 August 2022). These incidents contributed to a 56% increase in political violence events in the United States last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks.
Reported far-right and militant social movement activity continued last week at similar rates to the week prior. On 6 August, the Verde Valley Preparedness Team and the Maricopa County Preparedness Team held informational recruitment meetings in the Arizona cities of Cottonwood and Surprise, respectively. In Stockton, California, armed affiliates of the 1st Platoon of the California State Militia’s Echo Company participated in a 6 August close-quarters training. Meanwhile, on 7 August, members of the Proud Boys in full regalia participated in the Harvest Festival Parade in Monroeville, Indiana. The next day, Proud Boys, affiliates of the 1776 Restoration Movement, and Citizens Against Political Persecution gathered outside of the DC Central Detention Facility in Washington, DC, to rally in support of prisoners who participated in the January 2021 Capitol riot (News2Share, 9 August 2022). On 9 August, members of the Proud Boys appeared at a pro-Trump rally in West Palm Beach, Florida, near the Mar-a-Lago resort.
Openly white supremacist organizations were also active last week. Over the weekend of 6 August, ‘white power’ flyers were found around Lake Kittamaqundi near Columbia, Maryland (Fox45, 9 August 2022). Meanwhile, masked members of the Nationalist Social Club 131, with anti-LGBT+ signs, gathered on 7 August in the Seaport neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, to protest against a nearby ‘Drag Queen Story Hour.’ The story hour was later canceled due to the protesters (The Boston Globe, 8 August 2022). Elsewhere, around 10 August, Patriot Front members dropped a banner at an overpass in Richmond, Virginia.
In Bellingham, Washington, on 10 August, demonstrators affiliated with organizations including the 1776 Restoration Movement and the People’s Convoy rallied outside Wink Wink Boutique, a self-described inclusive and woman-owned sex shop, accusing the owner of pedophilia. One of the demonstrators was shown making repeated ‘white power’ hand gestures, while another had a knife, body armor, and was dressed in all brown, possibly to evoke the Brown Shirts, a paramilitary group organized by the Nazi Party (Bellingham Herald, 11 August 2022). Wink Wink Boutique has previously been a target of harassment and criticism due to its youth sexual education classes (King5, 10 August 2022; Bellingham Herald, 13 August 2022). Days prior, it had its windows smashed in by five young men (Bellingham Herald, 8 August 2022).
Note: This dashboard automatically updates to cover the latest four weeks of data released by ACLED. Use the date filters to view data for the one-week period covered by this Regional Overview.