Warning: this post includes calls for violence
This past Thursday, on June 8, Former President Donald Trump posted on Truth Social that he was being indicted on charges of obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records, conspiracy, false statements, as well as a charge under the Espionage Act. He called it the “Boxes Hoax,” as the charges relate to his storing top secret documents improperly. Somewhat similar to what happened last August after the FBI searched Trump’s residence at Mar-o-Lago, described by Trump as a “raid,” and when a New York grand jury indicted him for an alleged hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, the U.S. far right sprung into action to defend the former president, calling for a “civil war” and protests.
Data analyzed by the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) from fringe platforms such as Gab and Telegram shows that references to “civil war” more than doubled on alternative social media platforms frequented by the American far right the very day that Trump posted on Truth Social about the indictment. More than fifty percent of all references to “civil war” last week came in the aftermath of the news of the indictment, with thirty percent occurring immediately after.
As expected, anger at the news exploded online as many Trump supporters called for violence against their political opponents. On pro-Trump social networks and message boards, posts reading “Just buying more ammo,” “MAGA will make Waco look like a tea party,” and “We need to start killing these traitorous fuckstains” could be found. These online calls for violence have also unfortunately been amplified by Republican elected officials. Arizona Representative Andy Biggs sent a tweet stating: “We have now reached a war phase. Eye for an eye,“ while Kimberly Guilfoyle wrote on Instagram that “Retribution Is Coming.” Representative Clay Higgins tweeted out “Buckle up. 1/50K know your bridges. Rock steady calm. That is all,” in a veiled call for county-level insurrection. While it is still unclear how much real world protest activity or violence will occur, GPAHE’s data shows these kinds of reactions online were widespread.
A particular flashpoint may come at the Miami Federal Courthouse this Tuesday, where Trump is due to appear. Far-right activists such as Charlie Kirk have called for a demonstration there, and it is unclear whether online anger will turn into actual physical violence. Many protesters have claimed that they will come “well-armed.” While the Proud Boys have primarily been focused on demonstrating against LGBTQ+ events around the country, they too have reposted calls to protest in Miami and may make an appearance.
This data confirms the trend that many extremism experts have been finding regarding growing calls for violence online, and is a chilling reminder that a large number of Americans (around 12 million according to the University of Chicago’s estimates) believe that violence is a legitimate means of political participation, in particular to return Donald Trump to power.