Why Trump's calls for protests seemed to fall flat; plus a new coalition takes on extremism
Despite calls from Donald Trump to "PROTEST PROTEST PROTEST," far-right extremist supporters of the former president largely stayed home this week. Meanwhile, the former president is holding his next campaign rally in a city that also holds a powerful symbolism for the far-right. In Washington, D.C., five more Oath Keepers are convicted of Jan. 6 conspiracy charges. And a new coalition of organizations vows an "offense against extremism."
It's the week in extremism.
PROTEST PROTEST PROTEST (or not)
On Saturday, Trump claimed on his Truth Social account that he was going to be arrested, and called on his supporters to protest in opposition to a prosecution he has consistently called a "witch hunt." But by Thursday afternoon, there had been no arrest, and only a trickle of protestors.
Protestors worry 'It's a trap!': Despite Trump's calls for protests, few efforts emerge, as supporters worry: 'It's a trap'
Many pro-Trump activists might be staying off the streets because they believe these public protests are a "trap" laid by law enforcement, as I examined in this story Monday.
Pro-Trump protests in California (outside an In-n-Out burger restaurant, no less) and in Manhattan fizzled quickly. As I outlined in this episode of USA TODAY's "Five Things" podcast, Trump supporters lacked a central focus or location to rally behind.
No arrest: By Thursday afternoon, there were still no signs of a Trump arrest. Extremism experts continue to worry that an indictment or arrest of the former president could spur individual domestic terrorists or terrorist cells to commit crimes.
Trump event in Waco a 'train whistle' to extremists?
Barring his imminent arrest, Trump is due to appear at a campaign rally in Waco, Texas, on Saturday. The choice of the Central Texas city is likely a dog whistle to far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists who support the former president, and who Trump has increasingly courted in the last two years, several extremism experts told me for this story.
Trump's rally in Waco sends a signal: Trump holding his next rally in Waco, Texas, sends a message to the far right, experts say
Waco was the site of a botched 1993 raid and standoff at the Branch Davidian compound. Ultimately, 76 people died. The tragedy has become synonymous with conspiracy theories about a sinister federal government "Deep State."
Ever since he lost the 2020 election, Trump has been increasingly courting far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists. He has cast the current investigation into his hush-money payments as a witch hunt.
Analysis: "There's no reason to go to Waco, Texas, other than one thing," Megan Squire, deputy director for data analytics at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told USA TODAY. "I can't even fathom what that's about other than just a complete dog whistle – actually forget dog whistle, that is just a train whistle to the folks who still remember that event and are still mad about it."
Alternate view: Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League wasn't so sure about Trump's choice. He said we will have to wait and see what the former president says at the rally before concluding that he is reaching out to anti-government groups by choosing Waco.
More Oath Keepers guilty
Five more people tied to the extremist group the Oath Keepers were convicted this week of conspiring to obstruct the certification of Joe Biden's 2020 election win on Jan. 6 — the most serious charges against them, my colleagues Ella Lee and Sarah Elbeshbishi reported.
More Oath keeper guilty verdicts: Fifth Oath Keepers affiliate convicted of conspiring to stop 2020 vote certification
Go deeper: After Jan. 6 riot, hundreds of identifiable people remain free. FBI arrests could take years
The guilty verdicts follow the seditious conspiracy convictions of six other Oath Keepers, including founder Stewart Rhodes and a top deputy, Kelly Meggs in January.
Important case: As Lee and Elbeshbishi report: "The convictions are an important victory for the Justice Department, which has steadily worked towards imposing consequences on people who they say plotted violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021."
Still free: As I investigated earlier this month, hundreds more Jan. 6 rioters have been identified to the FBI, including more than 100 who are on the bureau's wanted list, but are yet to be arrested.
New coalition forms to 'combat extremists'
Seven human rights organizations are teaming up to form a new coalition that aims to battle extremism at every turn. The Greater Than Hate Coalition will be "a collective, multi-racial, multi-cultural movement with the aim of fighting back against extremist politicians and their growing and loud campaign of hate," a press release for the group states.
The seven groups involved are: the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Everytown for Gun Safety, the National Education Association (NEA), the National Women’s Law Center, Equality Federation, Asians Fighting Injustice, and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).
The coalition intends to combat legislation targeting the LGBTQ community and abortion rights, as well as calling out and fighting against "extremist politicians and organizations trafficking in hate."
“We’ve watched as, both on the national stage and in many states, people have seen long-settled rights stripped away and looked on as their transgender and LGBTQ+ friends and family and colleagues have been targeted for who they are,” Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign was quoted as saying. “We’re at a crossroads. Do we protect the most endangered and marginalized groups among us, or do we ignore them?
Statistic of the week: 36% increase
Anti-Semitic incidents including harassment, vandalism and assaults increased 36% from 2021 to 2022 nationwide, according to the annual audit from the Anti-Defamation League.
The ADL logged a total of 3,697 anti-semitic incidents last year, the highest number ever since they started tracking these incidents in 1979.
The number of anti-Semitic assaults last year was also up 26%.
Last week in extremism: Neo-Nazis protest drag show; Tucker Carlson show precedes spike in online threats
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why Trump call for protests fell flat; what to watch for in Waco rally