On December 19, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that former President Donald Trump is disqualified from the state’s ballot under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment ban on insurrectionists running for office (a ruling on hold until January 4, pending a likely Trump appeal to the Supreme Court and the state’s primary ballot finalization). The ruling has animated the far right on unmoderated and often violent platforms like 4chan, where reaction to the ruling has spurred threats of violence against the Colorado Supreme Court justices, those affiliated with the Democratic Party, and those considered to be “leftists.”
The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) has found that just a day after the ruling, almost 300 messages, including violent speech, spanning unmoderated platforms, including the Trump-owned Truth Social, Gab, 4chan, GETTR, and Minds.
Trump’s own social media platform, Truth Social, which has been associated with extremism and far-right conspiracy theories, had the highest number of violent posts following the news, with over 150. Some of these messages targeted the Colorado justices with calls for them to “hang for sedition,” to be “stripped of their power,” “arrested,” and the suggestion that “Colorado Patriots” should “revolt” against the government.
Gab, a platform similar to Twitter, known for hosting the white supremacists favored by its founder, Andrew Torba, saw just over 100 violent messages. Messages on Gab, compared to Truth Social, were more open about targeting anyone associated with the decision or the Democratic Party. For example, one user claimed that the decision meant that “the DOJ (Department of Justice) must be hit with a flame-thrower the minute Trump retakes command.” A number of other posts called for the judges to be “#disbarred and #arrested and charged with #treason for willful #subversion of the #USConstitution,” presumably because such a charge is punishable by death. Users blamed anyone who believed that the January 6 attack on the Capitol was an insurrection, claiming that “there was no damn insurection (sic),” and that “leftist liars,” “communist traitors,” and “judges thinking there was [an insurrection] need to die.” A Breitbart article detailing the decision was commonly linked to by the posters.
4chan, known for its longstanding connection to violent extremism and white supremacist terrorism, had just over 20 highly violent messages posted on the platform about the decision. Users demonstrated their disdain for it by “[hoping] a k*** is murdered for this,” even though some didn’t “even like Trump that much.” Others seemed convinced that Trump would retaliate violently against the justices, saying “Trump will be president and the executions will begin. It’s going to happen.” One comment made a reference to the beginning of Kali Yuga, the Dark Age of Hindu mythology in which there is a societal collapse leading to a period of enlightenment. Some on the far right and famous Greek fascist Savitri Devi believed that Hitler would bring an end to the Kali Yuga. This commenter called for others to “burn it all” since the ruling “officially begins Kali Yuga.”
GETTR and Minds had a combined count of just under 20 highly violent messages. These included calls for “the time of tolerance of corrupted courts, legislatures, parties, and anti america, anti american values, and constitution is over” and threatened “war” if Trump is not included on “all ballots in all states.” Others took the ruling as a “green light to start hanging the anti-American seditious traitorous pieces of shit hiding in public office,” targeting both “the communist leftist democrats and RINOs (Republicans In Name Only).” The term RINO, Republicans in Name Only, is typically used by far-right Republicans to describe their fellow party members as being insufficiently conservative.