In recent weeks, the Internet has witnessed a dramatic increase in racially charged threats regarding a potential Obama loss. Despite the abundance of these threats and indications that the Department of Homeland Security has purchased a copious amount of riot gear in preparation of some unknown threat, police say that they are not anticipating civil unrest on Election Night.
The 2008 presidential election had police departments in a variety of big cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia taking special precautions in case of possible riots in response to the election results. The Hill contends that police were preparing for what they believed were increased tensions following the 2000 disputed election results and the long lines at the polling places in poor urban areas in the 2004 presidential elections.
One month prior to the 2008 election, James Carville said that an Obama loss “would be very, very, very dramatic out there,” leading some to believe he was predicting riots.
This year, however, police departments are less concerned about the possibility of riots.
“We’re not anticipating civil unrest on Election Night,” said a spokesman for the Detroit police department who did not wish to give his name. “We’re going to collect the ballots like we usually do. If a situation arises and we need to respond, we’ll respond to the scene and assess.”
That is a very different mentality from what was seen in Detroit in 2008, when James Tate, second deputy chief of the Detroit police department, said that they had extra men assigned on Election Night, noting that Detroit citizens rioted following a Detroit Tigers World Series victory in 1984.
The Detroit police department is not the only one that seems to have taken a lax approach to upcoming Election Day. The Hill reports, “Spokesman for police departments in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, Columbus, Miami, Houston and Los Angeles likewise said they were not aware of any special preparations for civil unrest.”
But despite police contentions that riots are not expected on Election Day, there are clear indications that there may be cause for concern.
Twitter exploded with new threats from Obama supporters to assassinate Mitt Romney if he were to defeat President Obama following the second debate.
Twitter user Fouad Sadik tweeted, “Already planning my attack if Romney becomes president. Like he’s talking s*** about the middle east. Smh [shaking my head]. Romney is gonna get blown up.” He later added, “I hate Romney. Like I’ll personally assassinate him. I’m not even scared. Get at my FBI.”
Jaymz tweeted, “Vote Obama as Vice-President, Let Romney win President. THEN WE ASSASSINATE him. Boom! Obama wins. & We don’t have to worry about Romney anymore.”
I_B_New_York admitted that his gripe with Romney rests on fears that he will take away food stamps: “I jus used close to $200 worth of food stamps today…Romney don’t take that away…70% of America will assassinate u.”
Others pointed to Romney’s opposition to the birth control mandate.
“No birth control???? Lol rlly Romney the american population is going to overflow and then we’ll have to resort to murder and you’ll be #1.”
These are just a handful of a significant number of threats against Romney’s life over the last 12 hours, and just on Twitter.
Public Policy Polling has noted that 62 percent of Republicans in Ohio fear Democrats will use fraudulent tactics for an Obama reelection, while 50 percent of Democrats think the same of the Republicans to ensure an Obama defeat. Polls in Florida and North Carolina reveal similar figures.
“If it’s a close election, it’s safe to say it’s going to get ugly,” Public Policy Polling stated in a memo accompanying the surveys.
And civil rights leaders say they fear that there may be unrest if poor and minority groups feel disenfranchised as a result of voter ID laws.
“I think there are some people that are deeply concerned that we may have something more akin to the shenanigans we experienced in 2000,” said Hilary Shelton, Washington bureau director of the NAACP.
“There is a concern that if left unchecked, some of these practices could result in thousands of votes being denied or not counted,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
But there was also disenfranchisement in 2008 when members of the New Black Panthers stood outside polling places in Philadelphia holding clubs and wearing military-like outfits, shouting racial and threatening remarks to those who were not voting for Barack Obama.
Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media have wholly ignored the abundance of anti-Romney threats generated over the last few days.
Paul Joseph Watson, writer for Prison Planet, notes, “The hypocrisy of the leftists in trying to either downplay or deny this issue altogether is jaw-dropping given how they routinely try to portray conservatives as violent and extremist by pointing to angry comments made online.”
Some groups are accusing conservatives of attempting to stir up racial tensions by hinting at riots. ThinkProgress.org is accusing the Drudge Report and Infowars of “stirring up another race-baiting conspiracy theory.”
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter notes, however, that even white liberals are guilty of spreading rumors of potential riots:
The threats to riot and the claim that abortion will somehow miraculously be illegal in places like California and New York is not going to swing the undecided voters here ... though I will note that white liberals are always threatening black riots whenever they’re about to lose an election. Al Gore did it in 2000.
And despite the police departments’ failure to recognize the potential for violence on Election Day, the Department of Homeland Security is prepared for the worst. In July, Russia Today reported that the DHS has ordered “masses of riot gear equipment to prepare for potential significant domestic riots at the Republican National Convention, Democratic National Convention and next year’s presidential inauguration.”
The brief for the request submitted by the DHS to the Federal Business Opportunities site explains, “The objective of this effort is to procure riot gear to prepare for the 2012 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the 2013 Presidential Inauguration and other future similar activities."