Gary LaFree, a Distinguished University Professor and criminologist at the University of Maryland, has lent his expertise to shed light on the alarming surge of political violence in the United States. As cited in a Reuters Special Report, LaFree's insights reveal a concerning trend since the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Incidents of political violence began rising in 2016, around the time of Trump’s first run for the presidency, said Gary LaFree
Political violence surged for nearly a decade starting in the late-1960s – 1970 alone saw more than 450 cases, LaFree said. But it had become relatively rare by 1980. There were a few spikes in the 1990s, including the 1995 Oklahoma City federal building bombing that killed 168 people, in what the Federal Bureau of Investigation describes as the nation’s worst act of homegrown terrorism. Political violence started to climb again in 2016, LaFree added, and “it doesn’t seem like we’ve hit the top of the wave yet.”
LaFree's analysis shines a light on the complex factors driving this increase in political violence, encompassing economic anxieties, pandemic-induced turmoil, and shifting societal demographics. As the United States contends with this unsettling rise in political violence, Gary LaFree's expertise serves as a critical voice in comprehending and addressing the challenges presented by this surge.