Political Research Associates and the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.
Additional research support provided by Alexander Reid Ross –
We have been tracking reports of paramilitary and other far-right actors who are showing up at or adjacent to protests demanding an end to racist policing and a transformation of our carceral state. This map seeks to right-size the threat of paramilitaries to our social justice movements, neither exaggerating nor minimizing. We have confirmed 136 reported incidents since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020, and with new reports daily there are dozens more as of yet unconfirmed incidents to review. Given the variety of groups and factions involved and types of incidents, we have divided the data into a few broad categories of actors/ideologies on the one hand and actions and tactics on the other. In most cases, the underlying data preserves more nuance and can be used to make finer distinctions.
Although most people may not remember, if they ever knew, far-right paramilitaries did turn up at previous rounds of protests over police violence. For example, during the second wave of Ferguson protests, after a grand jury declined to indict the officer who killed Michael Brown, members of the paramilitary group the Oathkeepers patrolled rooftops claiming to be there to protect people and property. The heavily armed militia—which reports drawing its membership primarily from military veterans, police officers, and other first responders—was greeted with mixed reactions by protesters. Mostly they were a distraction from demands for justice and police accountability.
Now in 2020, far-right paramilitaries are once again making the scene at racial justice protests.