OPINION: Post-election violence solves nothing


Wells Fargo location in New York City boarded up in preparation for post-election violence. Photo by Jack Cohen

Hannah Horowitz, Staff Writer

We are at a point where the result of the 2020 presidential election is still unknown. Tensions are high, especially as America awaits the vote count projections. The uncertainty is quite consuming, as some fear that their lives, safety, healthcare and rights depend on the results of this election. Even though Joe Biden is in the position to become the next President, the race is still extremely tight. Either way, people are going to be unhappy with the final result. The question that will remain is if our polarized country will be able to overcome the result and learn to work with one another again. 

There were already pre-Election Day preparations in place for many businesses in downtown areas who feared that violence would break out after the results were announced. To mitigate potential violence, businesses boarded up their windows, police forces were told to be on standby, and curfews were put in place in cities across the U.S. This is not normal Election Day preparation. It is quite saddening to reflect on how we got to this point as a country. The hate, fear, and division run so deeply that we have left behind our core values as a nation. 

There is tension and fear building amongst both sides. Many believe that militia groups will assemble, similar to what we saw during the COVID-19 stay at home orders. There was fear that people would arm themselves and show up to the polls for purposes of intimidation. However, mass assembly following the results of the election is sure to happen, especially as frustration with the electoral process grows. President Trump himself has expressed distrust in the election system, gaslighting his supporters and increasing agitation amongst the public. Several of his latest tweets have been flagged by Twitter for containing “false or misleading information” about the election. In contrast, Biden is calling for patience, saying that the lack of speed means that “the electoral process is working.”

Others fear that the mass gatherings will result in what we saw with the Black Lives Matter protests in places such as Seattle over the summer. Violence ultimately broke out, mostly from outside agitators who came with the intention to stir up the peaceful protests. This resulted in the BLM movement being scrutinized and left the message of the protesters overshadowed by violence. 

Armed protesters in Arizona gathered outside of the Maricopa County ballot processing center on Wednesday. They showed up in support of the President, saying that the ballots were fraudulent and the election was being stolen. They demanded to come inside and watch the employees count the ballots. On Thursday, a “freedom of speech” zone was established, with the protesters on one side and the ballot counters on the other. The President is encouraging these actions with a firestorm of tweets in all-caps, stating that the election was being stolen and they need to halt the vote counts. 

Over 600 demonstrators were arrested in Minneapolis on Wednesday night for protesting the President’s statements that he would not accept the results of the election. They marched on the interstate, causing the police to surround and arrest them. All 646 people were cited and released individually. There was no violence, but the police stated that they would not be allowed to express their first amendment right in such a dangerous manner. A section of the interstate had to shut down for several hours as a result.

In Portland, police made ten arrests after protestors “smashed windows at businesses and hurled objects including fireworks at officers” as said in a statement from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. Objects such as ammunition, firearms, fireworks, body armor, and a knife were all confiscated by officers. The state’s National Guard is working in cooperation with the state and local police to ensure safety and security in regard to the election results. 

While many protests in major cities have indeed materialized, there has not yet been the occurrence of widespread violence that we had feared. That being said, the country is on edge. Anything could be a tipping point, may that be the President’s attempts to delegitimize the election or the calls for fairness in our democracy. We are experiencing an extremely delicate period in our country. Resorting to violence against one another is not going to solve any of the underlying issues this country is facing. The best thing that we can do is to learn how to work together again. 

By learning to work together again, I do not mean putting our political views behind us. That is impossible, as many of our views reflect the values that we stand for. We have to learn how to be okay with one another without fully respecting someone else’s opinion. You are not required to respect an opinion that you believe is morally wrong. However, it is our responsibility to see the humanity in others. We must get back to a point where we are able to understand each other and find commonalities, which is what a Biden presidency aims to do. We also have to acknowledge that when human rights are in question they are not political talking points. There have been too many times over the past four years when simple things have become overly politicized and scrutinized, furthering the divide in our country. Violence only exemplifies division, so we must stop playing the defense and instead come to the table to heal our wounds as a nation.