News Analysis

Radical-leftist group prepares for riots in the event of a Trump win

An organization of violent activists who seek to overthrow the government have posted an online guide that outlines a plan to shut down the country and force President Donald Trump from power.

Ari Hoffman Seattle, WA
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An organization of violent activists who seek to overthrow the government have posted an online guide that outlines a plan to shut down the country and force President Donald Trump from power in the event that the 2020 election is too close to call.

A group that calls themselves ShutDownDC posted the guide, called "Stopping the Coup," which lays out a plan for "disruption" as a response to a "coup" by the president in the case of a close election. It echoes the themes of being "anti fascist" while calling for open revolt and suppression of the vote if they do not like the outcome. The group has been involved in many extremist events in the DC area against the police, ICE and other leftist causes.

ShutDownDC sent out the guide via an email with an introduction that declared: "Preventing Donald Trump from stealing the election and remaining in office is likely to take mass, sustained disruptive movements all over the country."

The guide encourages readers to go about "physically protecting the vote count from counter-protestors, federal agents, or white supremacist militias." Though they claim to be non violent, the group says it will not make "value judgments about the tactical approaches other people and organizations may choose to embrace."

Riots and mass protests are feared for Election Day and Night. Federal and state law enforcement officials have begun expanded preparations for the possibility of widespread unrest at the polls and following the results on Election Day.

Following a summer of violence, riots and mass protests which continued into the fall, President Trump said in an interview with Jeanine Pirro on Fox News in September that he would "very quickly" stifle riots on election night if Democrats were to organize protests against his potential victory, suggesting he would do so by employing a law allowing him to deploy active-duty troops domestically. The president already had threatened to cut federal funding to "lawless" cities, including Portland, Seattle, New York and Washington, DC earlier this year.

Some have suggested that the riots and protests will only continue if Trump wins re-election and yet the guide suggests that activists will continue their "disruption" regardless of who wins the election: "We're absolutely not saying the election is useless, but rather the reactivity of the right and the white supremacists will be present no matter who wins."

Parts of it the guide read like a manual for staging a coup rather than preventing one. "In the context of a coup or highly contested election we need to be clear that our actions must directly affect the structures and pillars of power.  Our largest asset in this regard utilizes the ideas of non-compliance through massive, broad based direct action."

"Where we can," it reads, "we need to be in the streets, on the highways, or at the sites of power and power holders. In our jobs and lives we must refuse to allow those taking control the legitimacy of the power they seek through strikes, slowdowns, and boycotts, and public refusal to accept an illegitimate ruling party."

The manifesto continues "In order to really win we will need to force some pillars of power (business, military, media, or other major institutions) to decide to side with the people, or at least get out of the way. If everyday life goes on, a despot will not leave power, and so there will be no incentive for real systems change. You want to think about what it might take to stop business-as-usual."

The guide also prepares for the prospect of a contested election. "In the end, the actual electorate might be split, half truly believing that Trump was elected legally, and half knowing that he was not. It is in this muddied context of legal and political wrangling that we must take action. We cannot wait to see how the chips fall. That will only ensure more power for the violent white supremacist machine that is the Trump administration and its supporters."

Even though they claim to be non-violent, the guide assumes that rioters will be subjected to crowd control measures and advises them to prepare accordingly

The guide appears on a website of a group called the Disruption Project and may have been produced by them. They describe themselves as "dedicated to supporting uprisings, resistance and mass direct action." They have produced other similarly themed documents as well as blog posts with various parts of the guide in them.

The Disruption Project calls for  revolution against America "Our belief is that when mass numbers of people stand up and take action against the unjust systems of racial capitalism, the heteropatriarchy, white supremacy and settler colonialism, we have the ability to force ruptures and dismantle these systems. In other countries we have seen uprisings nonviolently topple dictatorships and illegitimate governments."

The messaging appears similar to other anarchist and anti capitalism groups like AdBusters which was one of the groups behind the Occupy Wall Street movement.

ShutDownDC is not looking for a return to the status quo "We are not seeking a 'return to normalcy,' because we know that returning to 'normal' means returning to a system that was built on oppression. Rather, we see this as the time to rise up against the current crisis and move forward to dismantle the interlocking systems of oppression that have plagued this land for centuries."

As of the time of print ShutDownDC had not responded to requests for an interview even though media is encouraged to contact them through emails on their website.

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