The peaceful transfer of power in United States’ elections has always been a point of national pride. This year that benefit wasn’t guaranteed. Threats of violence and rioting if President Obama lost his reelection bid have been made across multiple platforms even as votes were being counted and the polls were still open in western states.
Bill Maher used his show “Real Time” Friday to send a pointed message to Romney supporters. “I would just like to say for anyone thinking about voting for Mitt Romney, if that’s who you are, if you’re thinking about voting for [Mitt Romney], I’d like to make this one plea: black people know who you are and they will come after you. It’s just this one plea,” he cracked. “I’m kidding. Oh I’m kidding. What I meant to say is ‘Mitt Romney cares.’”
Yesterday Infowars, who has been tracking tweets promising violence in relation to a Romney win, estimated two dozen threats of rioting are made per hour on Twitter. Members of the New Black Panther Party were reported to be patrolling voting stations on Tuesday. What would their role be if they believed things were turning the wrong way? In 2008, Black Panthers brandishing nightsticks were convicted of threatening voters at a polling place in Philadelphia, but charges were withdrawn by the Obama Justice department.
On the H street corridor in Washington, DC, concerns about rioting were mixed. Several business owners who declined to give their names dismissed the possibility because they consider Mr. Obama’s reelection secure. Carlos of S & S Rapid Shoe Rebuilders feels differently. “I was thinking that probably something would happen if he lost. Violence, people breaking windows trying to steal, fire in the streets, fire in the cars. You never know.” H street is only now recovering economically after riots in 1968 broke out when Martin Luther King was killed.