Apr 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Nationwide far-right rallies fizzle

An Evangelical Christian Donald Trump supporter carries flags at the site of a "White Lives Matter" rally on April 11, 2021 in Huntington Beach, California.
A protester at the rally extremists have been calling a "White Lives Matter" protest in Huntington Beach, California, on Sunday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Police in Huntington Beach, California, declared an unlawful assembly to "disperse an unruly crowd" at a far-right rally Sunday.

The big picture: Police arrested 10 people at the so-called "white lives matter" rally after clashes between the extremists and counter-protesters, the Los Angeles Times reports. It was one of several poorly attended far-right protests held across the U.S. Sunday, per NBC News.

Why it matters: The poor showings demonstrate how the white supremacist movement has been driven underground in the face of media and police scrutiny since the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, with extremists using encryption services to arrange the rallies, NBC notes.

For the record: Per nonprofit the Southern Poverty Law Center, "'White Lives Matter' is a white supremacist phrase that originated in early 2015 as a racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement."

What to watch: Evidence emerged in the weeks after the U.S. Capitol riots that the subsequent online purge of far-right figures and platforms had driven radicalized users into darker corners of the internet.

  • Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, told NBC that organized, larger groups had "splintered," along with their social media footprint.
  • The risk now was "loners and cells, who act on their own combination of hatreds and idiosyncrasies often cobbled together from a constant all-you-can-eat buffet of stereotyping and conspiracies that still populate online discourse," he added.

Of note: An online poll conducted at the end of January found a majority of Americans think social media "has played a role in radicalizing people."

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