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Roving Periscope: America on the edge as ‘guilty’ Trump’s supporters threaten retribution

Roving Periscope: America on the edge as ‘guilty’ Trump’s supporters threaten retribution

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Barely six months before the US votes to elect its 47th President, America on Friday appeared on the edge as a court found ‘frontrunner’ Republican Donald Trump guilty in a 2016 case and his supporters flooded social media with threats of violence and retribution, the media reported.

The Democrats’s camp, campaigning for President Joe Biden’s second bid for the White House, was, however, jubilant.

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 November 5 election. Trump has denied wrongdoing and is expected to appeal.

His staunch loyalists, who stormed the US Capitol in January 2021 to protest his re-election loss against Democrat Joe Biden, are now enraged by the Republican challenger’s conviction on 34 felony counts by a New York jury. They responded with a campaign of threats and intimidation targeting judges and court officials and flooded pro-Trump websites with calls for riots, revolution, and violent retribution.

After Trump became the first US president—sitting or former—to be convicted of a crime, his supporters responded with dozens of violent online posts on three Trump-aligned websites: the former president’s own Truth Social platform, Patriots. Win and the Gateway Pundit.
They threatened attacks on jurors and executing the judge—Justice Juan Merchan—or outright civil war and armed insurrection, the media said, quoting a Reuters report.

Others ‘suggested’ shooting liberals after the verdict. “Time to start capping some lefties. This cannot be fixed by voting.”

This trend reflected the threats of violence and intimidating rhetoric that soared after Trump lost the 2020 election and claimed his 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 coming White House bid in November 2024.

This was a disgrace, a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt, Trump told reporters afterward, echoing comments he often made during the trial.

A furious Trump continued his attacks online after the Thursday verdict. On Truth Social, he called Justice 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!!”

All three sites have policies against violent language, and some of the posts were later removed.

After Thursday’s verdict, many of his supporters 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.


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