Media pundits and conservative organizations are warning that political violence against conservatives in the U.S. is escalating. In recent weeks, pro-life groups have been firebombed, an 18-year-old Republican man was murdered in North Dakota, and a young black Republican was beaten in Massachusetts for protesting that murder.
Several conservative critics and even some liberals blame President Joe Biden for the violence as a result of a speech he gave on Sept. 1.
As CBN News reported, Biden called the Republican Party a "direct threat to our democracy" as he encouraged Democrats to vote, standing in front of a widely-criticized blood-red backdrop in a primetime speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
After comparing Trump-led Republicans to "semi-fascists" earlier that week, Biden doubled down on that narrative during the address.
"Donald Trump and the MAGA represent an extremism that threatens the very foundation of our republic," Biden said. "They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fanned the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country."
On the other side, critics argue it's the Left that's been fanning the flames of authoritarianism and political violence, targeting the homes of Supreme Court justices, screaming at conservatives, canceling Republican leaders out in public, shuttering churches during the pandemic, and mandating vaccines for Americans to keep their jobs.
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As CBN News reported last month, a North Dakota man stands accused of killing a teenager by hitting him with his vehicle, reportedly telling police the teen was a "Republican extremist." The incident happened in McHenry, ND, located about two hours northwest of Fargo following a reported street dance.
According to an initial probable cause affidavit, Shannon Brandt told investigators that he struck Cayler Ellingson "because he had a political argument with the pedestrian and believed the pedestrian was calling people to come get him."
Brandt, 41, was initially charged with criminal vehicular homicide in the Sept. 18 killing of Ellingson, but that charge has been dropped. The new charge – murder with a dangerous weapon – is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison upon conviction. Prosecutors said he intentionally ran over the 18-year-old. Brandt is also charged with leaving the scene of a crash that resulted in death.
The highway patrol's investigation showed no acceleration marks or skid marks in the gravel alley where Ellingson was hit. Investigators also found little to no damage on the front of Brandt's SUV, according to the affidavit.
An autopsy showed Ellingson was on the ground when he received his fatal injuries, which indicates "the injuries weren't caused from being struck by Shannon Brandt's vehicle and were caused by being run over," the affidavit says.
Then late last month came word that a young conservative black man was attacked and beaten at a political rally in Somersville, MA.
The victim, identified as Shawn Nelson, was outside of Rep. Ayanna Pressley's (D-MA) office campaigning for Republican Donnie Palmer, according to conservative commentator Todd Starnes.
Palmer said Nelson was there protesting the murder of Ellingson. He jumped into the fray to help Nelson after he was attacked and brutally beaten by two men.
"I obliged," he told The Boston Globe. "Violence is never the answer, but it seems to be the first resort for radical progressives whenever they seek to silence Black Republicans."
The Globe reported two men where arrested in the incident and charged with assault and battery.
Now, Dr. Eric Wallace and his Black conservative colleagues – collectively known as the Black Conservative Summit – are calling out an increasing trend of politically motivated violence as midterm elections approach. In a statement, the organization said:
"On behalf of the fifth annual Black Conservative Summit, we thoroughly condemn the alleged senseless acts of killing, violence, and fearmongering increasingly perpetrated against political conservatives in the U.S. – just as recently, we denounced the vitriol aimed at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Because we are all created in the image and likeness of God, every American deserves respect and the right to exercise their vote, by their consciences as afforded in the laws of this great nation."
"We are grief-stricken and outraged over two such incidents within the last two weeks -- the death of Republican teen Cayler Ellingson in McHenry, N.D., following a political argument, and the brutal physical attack on Black conservative Shawn Nelson, while campaigning for Republican Donnie Palmer in Boston, Mass. Our prayers are with Shawn and both families," the statement concluded.
On his website, Starnes called out Biden for the language he used in his Sept. 1 address, saying it has caused the uptick in violence against conservatives.
"This is what happens when President Biden calls MAGA Republicans a bunch of fascists and extremists. Words matter," he wrote.