Monday, February 08, 2021

The Demographics of the Insurrection

Who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6? Knowing who they are is just as important as knowing their ideology and beliefs, according to University of Chicago political scientists Robert A. Pape and Keven Ruby. The two researchers analyzed the demographics of 193 individuals arrested for entering the U.S. Capitol or breaking into the Capitol grounds on January 6. 

Characteristics of those arrested on January 6
94% white
86% male

32% aged 35 to 44
24% aged 45 to 54
12% aged 55-plus

9% unemployed
27% white-collar workers
13% business owners

10% members of militia/violent right-wing group

The characteristics of those arrested on January 6 differ in important ways from those arrested for right-wing violence in prior years, say Pape and Ruby. They are older, less likely to be unemployed, and also less likely to be affiliated with right-wing groups. The researchers find these differences troubling because "Pro-Trump activists joined with the far right to form a new kind of violent mass movement." 

All the ingredients are there for this violent mass movement to grow, Pape and Ruby warn. The ingredients are 1) A leader (Trump) willing to engage in extra-legal activity; 2) Grievances perceived by large numbers of people (the "stolen" election); and 3) A deadly focal point event (January 6). 

"This is not about a few hundred arrests," the researchers conclude. "We need to understand who we are dealing with in the new movement. Targeting pre-2021 far-right organizations will not solve the problem."

Source: University of Chicago, Chicago Project on Security & Threats, The Face of American Insurrection—Right-Wing Organizations Evolving into a Violent Mass Movement

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