Online threats of violence but few signs of far-right organizing around Trump indictment
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Minutes after news broke of former President Donald Trump’s indictment, a comment on the pro-Trump internet forum Patriots.win, also known as TheDonald, skyrocketed to the top of the message board.
“****ACCELERATE,” the comment, written by a user named TheSpeakerfortheDead, reads in its entirety.
Below that user, others quickly piled on, saying the grand jury that indicted Trump is “guilty of treason” and that their personal information should be made public.
The word “accelerate” is a reference to the far-right term accelerationism, the idea that the state must be abolished, usually violently, and replaced with a new one.
It’s one of a variety of comments posted online in far-right forums in the aftermath of Trump’s indictment. Many of those forums commonly host violent rhetoric, and some were integral in planning around the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
While there is little evidence of similar planning for real-world unrest just yet, extremism researchers are keeping a close eye on the varied calls for everything from targeted attacks on the district attorney who brought the case to a new civil war.
“Accelerationism is a concept on the far right that’s defined by a cynicism and disbelief in the legitimacy of the democratic process or in functions of government,” said Jared Holt, a researcher at the extremism studies nonprofit Institute for Strategic Dialogue. “Subscribers to it suggest as a solution a series of actions that are often violent, and meant to compromise or hasten what they believe to be unavoidable collapse of that system.”
Holt said the term was used earlier in the decade to describe white supremacist extremist groups like Atomwaffen, who frequently agitate for and commit acts of violence. Some users on pro-Trump forums have begun to embrace the nomenclature as more and more radical and violent rhetoric has seeded into their space.
“The hope is that by advocating for the destruction of those systems or for the destabilizing of society — whether it’s through mass violence or purposeful misinformation — by playing a role in the collapse that they would also cement a position for themselves when they’re rebuilding it in their own image,” Holt he said.
Holt and other extremism researchers have seen frequent references to accelerationist rhetoric on the far-right since the news of Trump’s indictment.
Animated by claims about liberal megadonor George Soros’ ties to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, some users have consistently called for violence and assassination attempts. Soros has never met nor talked to Bragg, according to a report from CNBC, but Bragg did receive donation money, along with other progressive-leaning district attorneys, through the super PAC Color of Change after Soros donated $1 million to it.
“Why can’t we put a bounty on Bragg’s head? Time to fight lawlessness with lawlessness,” wrote one Patriots.win user.
“Hey man a lot of us are thinking the same thing, but if I said what should really happen I’d be charged with ‘terroristic threats …’” another user responded.
Others said the day of his potential arrest will “hopefully” be remembered as a “day of slaughter.”
The threats, which were collected in a report by the nonprofit research group Advance Democracy, targeted Bragg, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Soros and law enforcement. Advance Democracy’s report said they “had not identified any definitive plans by users to engage in violence or any large-scale organizing activities.”
However, users on the pro-Trump forum encouraged those who did not want to “form organized militias” to “take on lone wolf mentalities,” “weaponize suicidal people” and “make the jurors public knowledge.”
Rhetoric from the former president has done little to quell supporters’ anger, and has at times appeared to play into accelerationist ideas. In a post to Truth Social shortly after news of his indictment, Trump said that the United States was now a “third world country” and that “the country is dying.” Trump had previously warned of the potential for “death and destruction” if he faced criminal charges.
“Some Trump supporters are seeing a system that they think is rigged against them. Some of them are embracing this concept of saying, ‘We have to break the system instead of trying to convince people of our ideas’,” Holt said. “It is a disregard and even contempt for the systems of democracy.”