Following the attack on congressional Republicans by a left-wing political activist on Wednesday, VICE News sat down with a few domestic extremism experts to talk about the surge in political violence in the U.S., particularly from the left. In his discussion with the news outlet, Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, issued a chilling warning about “something” he feared was “coalescing on the hard left.”
On Wednesday, virulently anti-Republican and anti-Trump Bernie Sanders supporter James T. Hodgkinson unloaded dozens of rounds on a Republican congressional baseball practice, injuring several people, including Rep. Steve Scalise, who has been in critical condition since. While VICEnotes that domestic extremism experts caution that it’s “not so simple” to blame Hodgkinson’s actions on his far-left political leanings, they are seeing a troubling trend among the “hard left.” In fact, it’s so pronounced that “monitors of right-wing extremism have begun shifting their focus, and sounding the alarm.”
Levin told VICE that he began to pay more attention to what was stirring on the radical left in the spring of 2016 when he was documenting a Ku Klux Klan rally in Anaheim that turned violent. After witnessing the “anti-fascist” counter-protesters attack the Klansmen — at one point Levin even putting himself in harm’s way to try to protect a Klansman from a violent Anti-Fa member — Levin said he began to think he might have been overlooking the threat posed by the other end of the ideological spectrum.