Even though former President Donald Trump told his followers to gather to protest his prosecution, online support for public protests is still scattered, unorganized, and quiet. Instead, notable Trump backers are pushing the story that any public event is a “trap” set by law enforcement and that attending will be unproductive and likely to result in charges. This is a typical response to radical movements: violence, a backlash from the police, and a retreat as the remaining followers get scared. The Capitol disruption on January 6, 2021, prompted by a call to action at a Trump event, led to nearly a thousand charges, showing even the most ardent fan that pro-Trump zeal can lead to jail time. Telegram, a pro-Trump channel, asked its members if they would resist if Trump were arrested on Tuesday. Most said no.
“Is the potential protest against Trump’s arrest a J6-style trap?” asked British far-right agitator Paul Joseph Watson’s 218,000 fans on Trump’s social media site, Truth Social. 95% of 1,580 respondents agreed. Ali Alexander, a famous “Stop The Steal” proponent, told his more than 1755,000 Twitter followers that rallying in New York City would put them in the most hostile territory in the US. Megan Squire, Southern Poverty Law Center deputy head of data analytics, has a study folder called “It is a trap” with screen-shots of this online messaging. Trump backers who want to resist face challenges without a primary goal. The most important facts are that tiny groups or domestic militants moved by Trump’s call for rallies are the most significant danger to public safety.
After the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and Trump attacked
Trump warns of arrest, calls for protest, but online support is muted. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/03/21/trump-warns-arrest-calls-protest-but-online-support-muted/11511264002/