Daily Camera (Boulder) : 2020-10-09

World View : 8 : 8A

World View

8A | FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2020 DAILY CAMERA Law enforcemen­t prepares for potential election-related unrest loose, anti-government, pro-gun extremist online network. Boogaloo adherents have shown up at protests against COVID-19 lockdown orders and protests over racial injustice, carrying rifles and wearing tactical gear. In one of the internet forums Squire follows, a boogaloo supporter recently discussed plans to stock up on water, food, gasoline and generators in case “infrastruc­ture goes down and supply lines are cut off.” Squire also said the Proud Boys, a group known for inciting street violence at rallies in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere, appear to be emboldened by Trump’s comments, as do less organized and strident figures posting on Facebook. The deadly shooting by a heavily armed teenager during a protest in Kenosha, Wis., in August has fueled “pro-vigilantis­m” attitudes among more mainstream conservati­ves, Squire said. And halfway through 2020, just over 19 million FBI background checks have been done, more than all of 2012 and each of the years before that. July hit an all-time high. Background checks are the key barometer of gun sales, but the FBI’S monthly figures also incorporat­e checks for permits that some states require to carry a firearm. Each background check also could be for the sale of more than one gun. The Justice Department’s civil rights division is responsibl­e for enforcing federal voting rights laws and tasks U.S. attorney’s offices with appointing special election coordinato­rs to handle voting rights cases. stand by.” Trump has spent months suggesting without evidence that the election could be rigged. His call to supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” has election officials worried about that unofficial or self-appointed “monitors” could chaos and conflict at voting places. An FBI official said the agency was considerin­g the current climate of the country in its preparatio­ns to ensure safety at the polls, as well as working with other agencies to protect the voting system. The official would not discuss the plans publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Adding to the alarm is the fact this election will be the first in nearly 40 years in which the Republican National Committee isn’t barred from coordinate­d poll-monitoring activities. Democrats fear that could open the door to voter intimidati­on, the reason the courts have largely prohibited Republican­s from poll monitoring since the early 1980s. So far, experts who study extremism say they haven’t seen any open discussion online of plans to instigate violence or interfere with voting. Elon University professor Megan Squire, a computer scientist who studies online extremism, said the farright extremists she tracks on social media appear to be preparing for trouble — a “prepper mindset” — without citing specifics. “They’re waiting for something to pop off,” she said. “It’s like a simmering kind of feeling.” She said the mindset is particular­ly keen among boogaloo supporters, a By Michael Balsamo, Michael Kunzelman and Colleen Long Associated Press WASHINGTON — Federal and state law enforcemen­t officials have begun expanded preparatio­ns for the possibilit­y of widespread unrest at the polls on Election Day, a response to extraordin­arily high tensions among voters and anxieties about safety stoked in part by President Donald Trump. FBI and local officials in several states have been conducting drills, running through worse-case scenarios, setting up command centers to improve coordinati­on on reports of violence and voter intimidati­on, and issuing public warnings that any crime that threatens the sanctity of a Nov. 3 vote will not be tolerated. The efforts are broader and more public-facing than in past years as fears grow over the potential for violent clashes in cities across the United States. Law enforcemen­t officials say they are not responding to any specific threats or informatio­n but are preparing for a host of different scenarios that could play out. Tensions are especially high given the increased political polarizati­on and months of mass demonstrat­ions against racial injustice that have seen violence by the left and right. Gun sales are way up. Six men were arrested after federal officials said they plotted to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D-mich., at her vacation home. 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