Plywood boards outside the windows of dozens of retail stores and banks in downtown U.S. cities, including Washington, are a week away from the Presidential election the wooden proof that something is different than usual.
Instead of unreservedly looking forward to democracy's highest holiday, in the USA the concern of violent riots and unrest around. Especially when the election night on 3. November in duel Donald Trump against Joe Biden no clear winner should emerge.
In the authorities' sights are primarily right-wing extremist, neo-Nazi and racist militias, who cause an uproar as recently in Michigan. In the co-election-deciding state that President Donald Trump visited Tuesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently arrested 13 white right-wing extremists associated with the "Wolverine Watchmen".
Civil war after U.S. election? Authorities take situation seriously
Some of the men had tweeted President Trump's call to "Free Michigan" in connection with Corona restrictions!" literally, and hatched detailed plans to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and storm the statehouse in the capital city of Lansing. The declared aim of the defendants was to create a "Civil War" from the fence.
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The seriousness of the situation in the socially extremely heated country, where more guns have been sold to private citizens since the beginning of the year than ever before, is shown by concurring situation assessments by the federal police, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, and dozens of local police departments.
After that Hate crimes and clashes between right-wing and left-wing Antifa groups, which have recently caused violence, looting and arson in cities such as Minneapolis and Portland, "cannot be ruled out".
Trump to neo-Nazi "Proud Boys": "Stand by"
Authorities are concerned that President Trump may have personally prepared the ground for confrontations. For weeks, the president has been giving the impression that this time's high number of absentee voters would result in "gigantic fraud" and that things would not be above board on election day itself.
That's why, Trump said at nearly every rally, his supporters should participate in the polling places virtually standing guard to detect irregularities at an early stage.
Completely screwed up, say election experts: 'Apart from election workers, no one who is not actively voting is allowed to enter a polling station'." The fact that Trump has the parts neo-Nazi "Proud Boys" live on television called for people to be vaccinated around the 3. November 'standby' seen as 'alarm signal' in police quarters. Background: Commentary: How Trump is committing bodily harm to his own country
Trump supporters intimidate voters before polls close
In general, the mood is more testy than average a week before Election Day. In Florida, New Mexico, Tennessee, Maryland and other states have been Intimidation attempts registered outside venues where voters can cast their ballots early.
At times, it's smaller groups of Trump supporters who are aggressively chanting at voters. At times, supporters of the president drive up and down in motorcades outside polling places with flags and megaphone announcements.
Chris Stanley, Democrat chairman in Florida's retiree paradise "The Villages," speaking to our editorial board, reported on voters who "turned back out of fear without casting their ballots".
Carrying guns allowed in many states
Trump refers to his watchers as an "army" of. Reportedly facing the Republican nominee on 3. November 50.000 volunteers, so-called poll watchers, available to stand watch outside polling places.
Security officials say the biggest danger is that encounters between Trump supporters and opponents in the heated political climate can quickly lead to misunderstandings. Because many states allow the carrying of weapons, even at the polling place, "escalations" are conceivable, he said.
In the process comes the Social media given special significance. What is spread there unfiltered can often hardly be caught anymore. When a member of the right-wing "Patriot Prayer" militia was killed by a left-wing extremist in Portland this summer, Stewart Rhodes spoke out.
The head of the nearly 20.000-member "Oath Keepers" militia, which has sworn allegiance to Trump and sees America in the stranglehold of left-wing terrorists, declared at the time that the "first shot" had been fired in the "new civil war".
If Donald Trump loses the election but does not concede defeat, the "Oath Keepers" could feel called upon to act as a Protective power of the president to appear. Here's what experts at the FBI fear.