Escalating Violence During Protests

An NJOHSP review of violent protests nationwide indicates an increase in confrontations between white supremacists, militia members, and counter-protesters—including anti-fascist anarchist extremists. Since 2016, there have been at least 11 violent protests in the United States, resulting in one death, at least 75 injuries, and over 300 arrests. 

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  • On August 12, James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into counter-protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally—a demonstration against removing a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia—killing one and injuring 19. During the event, Fields appeared in a photograph with Vanguard America—a white supremacist organization—wearing their signature uniform of khakis and polo shirt, and carrying a shield with an image affiliated with the group.

  • At the same rally, white supremacists clashed with anarchist extremists armed with a variety of weapons, including baseball bats, shields, knives, Molotov cocktails, and firearms. These violent confrontations followed a march on August 11 on the University of Virginia’s campus where approximately 100 white supremacists had gathered carrying torches and chanting Nazi slogans. 

To date, there have been no large-scale violent protests in New Jersey due in part to the proactive response of law enforcement. Nonetheless, domestic extremist have demonstrated their ability to mobilize quickly over political or social issues. 

  • In March, a fight occurred between anarchist extremists and supporters of the US President during a rally in Seaside Heights (Ocean County). Local and state law enforcement officers were able to keep altercations to a minimum because of advanced publicity about the event on social media gave them time to prepare.

  • In April 2011, 50-100 white supremacists attended a National Socialist Movement (NSM) rally at the State House in Trenton (Mercer County). Counter-protesters outnumbered demonstrators and included members of the New Black Panther Party and the anarchist Anti-Racist Action Network; however, they were largely isolated from NSM members, preventing violence.


For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at analysis@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.