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Washington State Authorities Preparing for Election-Related Civil Unrest

It’s time to buckle up, folks.  Things mighty get bumpy next week. 

The nation and its people are on edge.  In 8 days we will have a pretty good idea at how rough the next few weeks are going to be.

A close race means trouble for America, as the candidates take highly opposing views on what their reactions should be.  President Donald Trump has stood accused of refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, and has been labeled a would-be dictator on account of it.  For his part, Trump has repeatedly said “we’ll see what happens” in regard to the question being posed to him, which isn’t exactly a terrific answer.

On the other side of the “we’ll see” crew stands an invigorated Democratic Party whose younger wing has turned viciously radical in the Pacific Northwest, holding consecutive night protests lasting well over 3 months.  They’ve attempted to occupy city districts and “autonomous zones”, a military-style tactic that we haven’t seen since the failed “occupy Wall Street” campout of 2011.

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So, no matter what happens on election day, there remains a risk of trouble.  Authorities in the aforementioned northwest are preparing for a rough patch. 

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“I can say that we have no specific, credible threats at this time,” said Joshua Murphy, the assistant special agent in charge of the Seattle office of the FBI, where he oversees counterintelligence. Before that, he ran the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Even so, federal, state and local officials have participated in “tabletop” exercises outlining possible scenarios for post-election violence and mayhem. At least 300 National Guard soldiers, recently deployed overseas, are being trained to handle civil unrest. They will be placed on alert with hundreds of other Guard members who have already been trained for handling such disturbances. Police leaders in Seattle, which has hosted some of the country’s largest racial justice protests, have canceled time off for officers.

“Given the atmospherics and the civil unrest this summer since the May riots, we’ve focused and increased our resources,” said Murphy. Agents anticipate more unrest like that seen in the aftermath of the mass protests that sprang up in the wake of the May 25 video-recorded death of George Floyd while handcuffed and restrained by Minneapolis police.

There are concerns that a well-sized paramilitary group is preparing as well.

While many states are concerned about voter intimidation, experts who monitor extremist activity say they’re less concerned about that here, given that the state’s residents vote by mail, said Devin Burghart, the Seattle-based board president of the national watchdog group the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights. Voting by mail generally reduces or eliminates polling places that extremists can target, he said.

But extremist chatter about post-election unrest is intensifying in this state, Burghart said.

“There have been a number of groups in Washington … who’ve been talking about the likelihood of a civil war if the elections don’t go the way they want,” Burghart said.

Burghart said his group has observed an increase in “apocalyptic rhetoric” from members of People’s Rights, a paramilitary group founded by anti-government activist Ammon Bundy, who led the armed occupation of the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016.

It’s time to buckle up, folks.  Things mighty get bumpy next week.

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