United States & Canada
Posted: 3 February 2023
United States: Anti-LGBT+ events continue to see high involvement of far-right militias and militant social movements
Anti-LGBT+ incidents slightly decreased in the United States compared to December. Members of far-right militias, militant social movements, or white supremacist groups were reported at roughly a third of these events during the month. These included: the Proud Boys, QAnon adherents, American Guard, Protect Texas Kids, the New Columbia Movement, American Nationalist Initiative, Patriot Front, III%ers, Tennessee Active Club, the Goyim Defense League, and the Nationalist Social Club (for more, see ACLED’s updated fact sheet: Anti-LGBT+ Mobilization on the Rise in the United States). Multiple violent hate crimes targeting individuals because of their perceived sexuality also took place in January, including in Bellingham, Washington; New York City, New York; and Bridgeport, Connecticut.
In Canada, anti-LGBT+ demonstrations, most of which were organized in opposition to Drag Storytime events, slightly increased from December 2022 to January 2023, marking the highest levels of anti-LGBT+ protest activity since ACLED began collecting data on the country in 2021. The uptick comes as similar anti-LGBT+ demonstrations have surged in the United States.
United States: Demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement spike in response to police violence in Tennessee
Demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, the majority of which were related to the police killing of 29-year-old Black man Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee, spiked in January, reaching their highest levels since July 2022. On 7 January, Nichols was pulled over due to alleged reckless driving, which Memphis’s police chief has stated was not substantiated by available footage.1Axios, 28 January 2023 After police dragged Nichols from his car, then pepper sprayed and tased him, Nichols tried to flee. When officers caught him, they beat him severely, leading to his death in the hospital on 10 January. Five police officers were later charged with murder in connection to the incident, while two others were relieved of duty and three EMTs were fired for failing to properly administer care to Nichols. Additionally, the special SCORPION police unit, which the officers were part of, has since been disbanded.2Associated Press, 30 January 2023
Footage of the arrest was released on 27 January, triggering demonstrations across the country. This led to the highest number of demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in a single week since Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, was sentenced for second-degree murder in June 2021.
United States: Nationwide demonstrations in response to fatal police shooting of Atlanta Forest demonstrator in shootout
Demonstrations in support of the Defend the Atlanta Forest movement surged after a demonstrator was killed in an alleged shootout with police during a raid on a demonstration camp in Atlanta, Georgia. The Weelaunee Forest, also known as the South River or Atlanta Forest, has been occupied by demonstrators since 2021 to prevent the use of the forest to build a police training facility. On 18 January, police entered the area to clear out demonstrators and claim that an individual opened fire on them, wounding one officer and prompting police to return fire. Demonstrators affiliated with the movement dispute this narrative and claim that gunfire from other law enforcement may have been responsible for the incident. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation claims that the bullet that wounded the officer was determined to have been fired from the demonstrator’s gun.3National Public Radio, 21 January 2023
Demonstrations erupted across the country in response to this event. In Atlanta, Governor Brian Kemp activated 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops following a violent demonstration on 21 January. The person who was killed is one of the first documented environmental demonstrators to have been killed by state forces in American history.411 Alive, 26 January 2023; The Guardian, 28 January 2023
United States: Ongoing far-right militia, militant social movement, and white supremacist trainings and other activities
Far-right militias and militant social movements continued to conduct flier drops, banner drops, trainings, and other activities in January. In Arizona, the Chino Valley Preparedness Team, Yavapai County Preparedness Team, and Lions of Liberty held recruitment meetings throughout the month. Proud Boys also dropped at least two banners in California.
Openly white supremacist activity continued in January as well. The Ku Klux Klan conducted flier drops in Virginia at least twice, the Nationalist Social Club disseminated flyers in Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the Goyim Defense League conducted flier drops in Michigan, Florida, Nevada, and Maryland. In Michigan, a man affiliated with the Goyim Defense League was arrested while disseminating fliers for carrying a knife without a permit. The Goyim Defense League and National Socialist Florida also projected large antisemitic messages onto buildings in Florida.
Meanwhile, Patriot Front held multiple sparring and fitness training sessions in Massachusetts, Missouri, Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, Georgia, and California. The group also carried out banner drops in Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas, Connecticut, Missouri, New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Maine. In North Dakota, a road sign was also reprogrammed to show propaganda from Patriot Front. Patriot Front also distributed propaganda alongside care packages for the homeless in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and donated food in Jamestown, North Dakota.