Sometimes, it seems as though America has never been so divided. The daily news stories of political dissension and fierce protests make it appear as though an explosive ending is inevitable.
A few studies, polls, and personal accounts in the media suggest otherwise. Maybe the differences between most liberals and conservatives aren’t really that stark. Maybe some in the media sensationalize their news stories to raise their ratings and persuade people to come to their political side when simply reporting all the facts in an unbiased manner won’t do the job.
Either way, unrest is also being fueled by two US political parties battling for power in the worst possible ways. Whether deliberate or not, they may be motivating crazies on both sides to take extreme actions that no sane person wants to see.
As the United States appears to become more politically charged and divided, it’s more important than ever to recognize the threat posed by politically motivated violence. Here are 10 terrible acts of US political violence that occurred throughout the country’s history.
10. Congressional Baseball Practice Shooting
On June 14, 2017, the shooting at a Congressional baseball practice was just another example in the unfortunate history of US political violence. James Hodgkinson opened fire on the Republican members of the Congressional baseball team as they practiced.
For about 10 minutes, shots were continuously fired, with some estimating the number at 50–100. Several people were shot, but only the gunman died during a gunfight with police.
Based on his social media posts, Hodgkinson has been stridently anti-Republican. (He also volunteered for the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders.) When asked about the shooting, Senator Jeff Flake responded: “People know this is the Republican baseball team practicing. You can tell.”
Representative Jeff Duncan remembered encountering Hodgkinson in the parking lot before the attack. The gunman had asked if the Democrats or Republicans were practicing. Duncan said, “I told him they were Republicans.”
9. The Election Riot Of 1874
The date: November 3, 1874. The place: Barbour County, Alabama.
Republicans had dominated the area since the end of the Civil War, thanks to newly freed black voters along with alleged out-of-state voters. The White League, a paramilitary group set up to promote white men and Democrats, came to the town of Eufaula, hoping to intimidate or otherwise persuade Republican voters to abstain from voting. Instead, a riot occurred in which eight men were killed and as many as 80 were wounded, most of them black.
The White League then moved on to Spring Hill, a nearby town, where they stormed the polling place, destroyed the ballet box, and killed the son of E.M. Keils, a Republican judge. In the end, Democrats gained control of the vote counting. They refused to acknowledge any Republican votes and put their own leaders in charge.
The legacy of these actions was to keep Republican voters from joining in the political process through implied or actual violence for decades.