Fury Ignites Online: Trump Supporters Call for Violence Post-Conviction

Supporters of former President Donald Trump reacted explosively online after his conviction on 34 felony counts, calling for violence and insurrection. Pro-Trump platforms saw spikes in posts advocating attacks on jurors and government officials. The guilty verdict has heightened extremist rhetoric, posing potential security risks.

Reuters | Updated: 31-05-2024 09:41 IST | Created: 31-05-2024 09:41 IST
Fury Ignites Online: Trump Supporters Call for Violence Post-Conviction
Donald Trump

By Joseph Tanfani, Ned Parker and Peter Eisler May 31 - Supporters of former President Donald Trump, enraged by his conviction on 34 felony counts by a New York jury, flooded pro-Trump websites with calls for riots, revolution and violent retribution.

After Trump became the first U.S. president to be convicted of a crime, his supporters responded with dozens of violent online posts, according to a Reuters review of comments on three Trump-aligned websites: the former president's own Truth Social platform, Patriots.Win and the Gateway Pundit. Some called for attacks on jurors, the execution of the judge, Justice Juan Merchan, or outright civil war and armed insurrection.

"Someone in NY with nothing to lose needs to take care of Merchan," wrote one commentator on Patriots.Win. "Hopefully he gets met with illegals with a machete," the post said in reference to illegal immigrants. On Gateway Pundit, one poster suggested shooting liberals after the verdict. "Time to start capping some leftys," said the post. "This cannot be fixed by voting."

Threats of violence and intimidating rhetoric soared after Trump lost the 2020 election and falsely claimed the vote was stolen. As he campaigns for a second White House term, Trump has baselessly cast the judges and prosecutors in his trials as corrupt tools of the Biden administration, intent on sabotaging his White House bid. His loyalists have responded with a campaign of threats and intimidation targeting judges and court officials. "This was a disgrace, this was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt," Trump told reporters afterwards, echoing comments he often made during the trial.

A 12-member jury found Trump guilty on Thursday of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to silence a porn star's account of a sexual encounter ahead of the 2016 election. Sentencing is set for July 11, days before the Republican Party is scheduled to formally nominate Trump for president ahead of the Nov. 5 election. Trump has denied wrongdoing and is expected to appeal. Trump continued his attacks online after the verdict.

On Truth Social, he called Merchan "HIGHLY CONFLICTED" and criticized his jury instructions as unfair. One commentator responded by posting a picture of a hangman's platform and a noose with the caption: "TREASONOUS MOBSTER OF THE JUSTICES SYSTEM!!" Jacob Ware, a co-author of the book "God, Guns, and Sedition: Far-Right Terrorism in America", said the violent language used by Trump's followers was testament to the former president's "ironclad ability to mobilize more extreme supporters to action, both at the ballot box and through violence."

"Until and unless he accepts the process, the extremist reaction to his legal troubles will be militant," said Ware, a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. A spokesperson for Truth Social said, "It's hard to believe that Reuters, once a respected news service, has fallen so low as to publish such a manipulative, false, defamatory and transparently stupid article as this one purely out of political spite."

All three sites have policies against violent language, and some of the posts were later removed. Representatives of Patriots.Win and Gateway Pundit did not immediately return requests for comment. A Trump spokesperson also did not respond to an email seeking comment. "HANG EVERYONE"

After Thursday's verdict, many of his supporters also said that his conviction was proof that the American political system was broken and that only violent action could save the country. "1,000,000 men (armed) need to go to Washington and hang everyone. That's the only solution," said one poster on Patriots.win. Another added: "Trump should already know he has an army willing to fight and die for him if he says the words...I'll take up arms if he asks."

Other posts specifically urged targeting Democrats, in some cases suggesting they be shot. "AMERICA FULLY DESTROYED BY DEMOCRATS. LOCK AND LOAD," wrote a commentator on Gateway Pundit. While the posts identified by Reuters all called for violence or insurrection, most fell short of the legal standard for a prosecutable threat, which typically requires evidence that the comment reflects a clear intent to act or instill fear, rather than simply suggesting a frightening outcome.

Still, one researcher who studies extremist militias said the guilty verdict could inspire violence by reinforcing a conviction among some of Trump's supporters that he's a victim of a conspiracy orchestrated by his enemies. "I do think a lot of these folks have been looking for an excuse to maybe mobilize for a while," said Amy Cooter of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies' Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism. "I hope I'm wrong. I've said for a long time, though, that I would not be shocked to see violence result from a guilty verdict, either directed toward the jurors" or others connected to the case. (Joseph Tanfani and Peter Eisler reported from Washington. Ned Parker reported from New York. Editing by Jason Szep)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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