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FLASH ALERT: JUNETEENTH COUNTER-PROTESTS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES

Team: Extremism Team; NORTHCOM Team

Week of: Week of June 14, 2021


The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT to all individuals across the United States (US). The CTG matrix indicates a HIGH probability of counter-protests and rallies conducted by individuals who oppose the Biden Administration signing the bill to make Juneteenth a Federal Holiday. The number of counter-protests this year by individuals who identify with the far-right has been very high and therefore is likely to inspire protests and rallies as Juneteenth represents the day enslaved African Americans in the US became emancipated.


CTG has detected rhetoric and events across the US which are aimed at opposing the Juneteenth Federal Bill. An organization that considers itself the Patriots is organizing a counter-protest for Saturday, June 19, 2021, at 1200 EST in Washington, DC. The Patriots claim to be protesting the injustices that they have faced under the Biden Administration. Their protest coincides with Juneteenth celebrations set to take place in Washington, DC on the same day. This is concerning as many African Americans across the US will be celebrating the event, leading to violent clashes between the far-right and African Americans.


Planned Rally by Look Ahead America[1]


Juneteenth is a historic date for African Americans, as on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, enslaved people were emancipated. This is widely regarded as the date representing the end of slavery in the US. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement that gained traction last year, there has been great attention drawn to the struggles of African Americans. The House of Representatives passed legislation on June 16, 2021, where Juneteenth would now be regarded as a federal holiday; the vote passed 415-14 after the Senate passed it unanimously.[2] The legislation on this matter did not pass in 2020; however, the passage of this bill likely represents a change in attitudes and progress over the last year across the US. President Biden signed it into law on June 17, 2021.


Between 2020 and 2021 there have been several counter-protests planned directly in response to the political climate and events that have happened in the US. The far-right purposely ensure they plan their counter-protest in the same vicinity of other protesters as this enables them to strike fear into that group and dissuade them from organizing further protests. In 2020, a peaceful BLM rally in Ohio was confronted by hundreds of counter-protesters who showed up with weapons, blue lives matter apparel, and confederate flags.[3] In Kenosha, Wisconsin, a protest to denounce police brutality and the killing of Jacob Blake turned deadly when they were met with counter-protesters armed with weapons. Counter-protesters killed two people and shot three people, which resulted in the governor deploying the National Guard due to the amount of violence and killings that erupted.[4] CTG estimates that this is highly likely to happen on Juneteenth.


Following the insurrection of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, there were a series of arrests of those who posted their presence at the event on social media, enabling intelligence agencies to confirm their attendance. As a result, attendees of the rallies protesting Juneteenth are encouraging other attendees to leave their phones at home, indicating that coverage of the protests is likely to be limited.[5] They are also encouraging attendees to wear masks to limit their exposure.[6] This is likely to make it more difficult to determine who attended the event, increasing the difficulty in arrests and achieving a sentence. Law enforcement must be alert in the case of protests to take immediate action, and cannot depend on cell phone coverage in the aftermath.


A series of celebrations have been organized by those who support the decision to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday, including music and art festivals and marches.[7] These venues are likely to attract the attention of those who are not supportive of the decision, and therefore attendees must be cautious of anyone acting suspiciously or who demonstrates allegiance to a right-wing group or racist propaganda. If you are concerned, leave the event as soon as possible to prevent violence from breaking out.


Conclusion


Our analysis indicates that there is a HIGH PROBABILITY that there will be counter-protests across the US at Juneteenth events and celebrations. There is a serious threat of violence occurring at celebrations once counter-protesters are in the same vicinity as those celebrating Juneteenth. There is also a serious threat of violence occurring at the rally organized by the self-proclaimed ‘Patriots’.


CTG’s Extremism and NORTHCOM Teams will continue to monitor the events over the weekend as that is when celebrations are set to take place. The Teams will continue to seek information regarding counter-protests using open-source intelligence (OSINT) and social media intelligence (SOCMINT), and provide the necessary reports regarding identified trends and how individuals can keep themselves safe.


If any individuals are interested in learning more about security measures to protect their facilities and personnel, please contact The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone 202-643-248 or email info@counterterrorismgroup.com.

[1] Screenshot of Look Ahead America Rally, Twitter, June 10, 2021, https://twitter.com/MattBraynard/status/1403026134317600769?s=20

[2] Congress passes bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday, CNN, June 2021, https://edition.cnn.com/2021/06/16/politics/house-vote-juneteenth-federal-holiday-senate-passed-june-19/index.html

[3] Hundreds of armed counter protesters confront Black Lives Matter rally in Ohio, The Guardian, June 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/18/hundreds-armed-counter-protesters-confront-black-lives-matter-event-bethel-ohio

[4] 3 people were shot, and 2 are dead, after protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, clashed with armed civilians, Insider, August 2020, https://www.insider.com/kenosha-three-shot-one-killed-protesters-clash-counter-protesters-blake-2020-8

[5] Response to a planned event on Juneteenth 2021 in Washington DC, Twitter, June 10, 2021, https://twitter.com/0351TJ/status/1403109470616526849

[6] Ibid.

[7] Big Parties, Protests, And Red Food: How (And Where) D.C. Is Celebrating Juneteenth, DCIST, June 2021, https://dcist.com/story/21/06/17/dc-juneteenth-events-food-parties-protests-programs/

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