United States & Canada
Posted: 1 February 2023
Posted: 1 February 2023
Anti-LGBT+ events slightly decreased in the United States compared to December. Roughly one-third of all anti-LGBT+ events in January saw the reported involvement of militias, militant social movement, or white supremacist groups. In January, the following groups participated in anti-LGBT+ events: 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). Several 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, continued at the same rate as December 2022, which represented the highest levels of such activity since ACLED began collecting data on Canada in 2021. Similar anti-LGBT+ demonstrations in the US have increased substantially in recent months.
Demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, the majority of which were related to the police murder 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 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 US. 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.
Demonstrations in support of the Defend the Atlanta Forest movement surged after a demonstrator was killed in a 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 violence in US history.411 Alive, 26 January 2023; The Guardian, 28 January 2023
Far-right groups, militia social movements, and white supremacist groups 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.
Kieran Doyle is a North America Research Manager and has been with the organization since October 2020. He previously worked for human rights NGOs in Brussels and later as a North America Researcher for ACLED, covering sourcing and coding for multiple regions, before moving into his current position. In this role, he coordinates the North America research team and supports data review and analysis. He is in the process of completing a Master's degree in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Studies at Tampere University in Finland and holds a BA in International Relations and French from the University of Denver.