The baseless election conspiracy rhetoric that the outgoing president has been irresponsibly pushing drove a crowd of disgruntled and radicalized white people to gather with guns outside the home of Michigan’s chief election official over the weekend.
“As my four year old son and I were finishing up decorating the house for Christmas on Saturday night, and he was about to sit down to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, dozens of armed individuals stood outside my home shouting obscenities and chanting into bullhorns in the dark of night,” Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement on Sunday.
Video footage posted on social media confirms the secretary’s report:
No one was arrested in the incident, according to the Washington Post.
In her statement about the incident, Benson seemed to point to the Trump campaign’s ongoing efforts to claim his election loss is a conspiracy as contributing to the armed thugs gathering outside her home yelling “stop the steal.”
“Through blatantly false press releases, purely political legislative hearings, bogus legal claims and so-called ‘affidavits’ that fail to allege any clear or cogent evidence of wrongdoing, those unhappy with the results of this election have perpetuated an unprecedented, dangerous, egregious campaign to erode the public’s confidence in the results of one of the most secure, accessible and transparent elections in our state’s history,” she said.
Of course, the Republican Party has been curiously silent about the dangerous, real-life repercussions of the dishonest rhetoric that Trump has been pushing—though they had no problem being vocal in their outrage this year at the supposedly egregious harm that people did to buildings and other inanimate objects while protesting racial injustice.
Democratic prosecutors in Michigan denounced the threats made outside Benson’s home on Sunday.
From the Washington Post:
Although the group dispersed with no arrests when police responded just before 10 p.m. Saturday, Michigan state officials accused the group of “terrorizing” Benson’s family.
“They shouted baseless conspiracy theories about the election, and in videos uploaded to social media, at least one individual could be heard shouting ‘you’re murderers’ within earshot of her child’s bedroom,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy (D) said in a joint statement on Sunday. “This mob-like behavior is an affront to basic morality and decency.”
They added that “terrorizing children and families at their own homes is not activism.”
Vitriolic rhetoric has led bipartisan leaders to warn that Trump’s baseless attacks on the election are endangering election officials’ lives. Multiple Michigan officials have reported being threatened and harassed over the election results, as have officials in Georgia, Arizona, Vermont, Kentucky, Minnesota and Colorado.
“Through threats of violence, intimidation, and bullying, the armed people outside my home and their political allies seek to undermine and silence the will and voices of every voter in this state,” said Benson. “Their goal is to overturn and upend the results of an election that are clear and unequivocal.”
Benson added that the threats will not deter her from doing her job as Michigan’s chief of elections. But it’s deeply disturbing that this is where America is in 2020: with a democracy marked by postures of violence that are not being unequivocally denounced by all of our elected leaders. There’s no guarantee that things won’t get worse before—and even after—Inauguration Day.
Michigan has been the site of right-wing threats of violence already this year. Governor Gretchen Whitmer was the target of a thwarted kidnapping plot in which 13 so-called militia members were charged in October with planning to overthrow the state government because of its coronavirus restrictions.
The monster Trump has unleashed on this country will not go quietly.