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Central Florida, state brace for inauguration unrest. Experts say extremism won’t stop there

By DESIREE STENNETT, GRACE TOOHEY, MONIVETTE CORDEIRO and JEFF WEINER, For Orlando Sentinel, On 15 January 2021, Read Original
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After a pro-Trump mob overran the U.S. Capitol last week, experts who study hate speech and political extremism say law enforcement should be prepared for the possibility of more violence in the coming days, with demonstrations rumored at state capitols in Florida and across the country.

Central Florida law enforcement agencies say they’re not aware of any planned demonstrations, but stand ready to respond should the need arise. State leaders have said they’re ready for potential unrest this weekend and in the lead-up to Inauguration Day.

Experts on extremism warn that the far-right rage that erupted in Washington, D.C., last week is unlikely to subside even after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in Jan. 20 — and may only get worse, meaning federal, state and local police will need to remain vigilant.

“For the people who are involved in this movement, this is the beginning of something and not the end,” said Cassie Miller, a senior research analyst with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report. The SPLC tracks hate groups throughout the country, including dozens operating in Florida.


The violence was also no surprise to marginalized groups, who have long been subjected to hate speech from the president’s supporters and discrimination from his administration, said Norma Henning, government affairs coordinator for CAIR Florida.

“Yes, this was an attack against democracy – it was an attack on all Americans – but it evolves from attacking marginalized groups and violating constitutional principles against those groups,” she said, citing the Trump administration’s bans on travel from predominately Muslim countries and border policies that separated migrant children from their families.


The FBI issued a bulletin warning against the “infiltration” of law enforcement by white supremacists as long ago as 2006, both as a method of recruitment and to disrupt investigations into fellow extremists.

Jensen said other countries like Germany have taken a proactive approach, requiring training for all military personnel to identify extremist views and warn against the risks of believing them. Jensen said a similar approach could be effective for U.S. law enforcement and military officers.

He said U.S. police agencies often fail to prevent radicalization, opting to instead punish or fire officers after they are tied to an extremist group, which can itself further radicalize them.

“What we’ve learned is that that’s a potentially dangerous way to deal with this problem because, if you take somebody and you kick them out without providing any rehabilitative services, all you’ve done is created a very angry extremist, somebody with a grievance,” he said.

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Read Full Article: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/politics/os-prem-ne-inauguration-extremism-central-florida-protests-20210113-undtetevwffjfcx35awrgnpzka-story.html 

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