How to Tell If the Election Will Get Violent

How to Tell If the Election Will Get Violent

Some experts are predicting violence after November 3. But there are ways to prevent it.

It was a tense and angry October. The United States had never felt more divided. Young people were marching in the streets and being met with heavily armed troops. People were seeking meaning in their lives, and finding it in ideology.

It wasn’t 2020. It was 1967.

Within a couple years, a group called the Weather Underground had decided to try to overthrow the U.S. government. According to Bryan Burrough, the author of Days of Rage, the group believed the racism and imperialism of the U.S. were so awful, and the public so complicit, that only explosions could convince people of their point of view. Some of its members desperately wanted purpose in their lives; others were riven by “grief and shame” over America’s misdeeds. The more the FBI and the police cracked down on them, it seemed, the more fervently the Weathermen dreamed of fighting back with force. Though they caused no deaths outside their own group, overall, the Weathermen took credit for 25 bombings, including attacks on the Capitol and the Pentagon.

Kit Bakke was motivated to join the Weathermen by her moral outrage over the war in Vietnam. In 1967, she and thousands of others marched on the Pentagon to voice their concern, but they were met with soldiers bearing bayonets. That was the turning point. “Okay, this is not my country anymore,” she remembers thinking. “If you’re not going to listen to us, we’re going to figure out another way to talk to you.”