Stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements have sparked some violence in the United States, and it could continue under further restrictions, according to a new federal report obtained by ABC News from analysts at the Department of Homeland Security Counterterrorism Mission Center.
“A variety of illicit actors are responding violently to stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures in place due to COVID-19, and we assess both public and private authority figures and essential workers are at highest risk of being targeted, particularly as the pandemic persists,” the DHS reported in the notice issued to law enforcement and federal government leadership Thursday. “Even as parts of the country begin lifting some of these measures, some illicit actors probably will view any continued state-mandated orders as government overreach, and anticipated safety guidelines and policies—specifically the use of face masks—probably also will serve as a driving factor behind continued violent incidents related to the pandemic.”
The DHS report was issued the same day President Trump told reporters in Michigan that he would oppose renewed stay-home rules even if a second-wave outbreak occurs this fall, as many public-health experts fear.
The report does not offer any political or health judgments, but instead bluntly warns about possible future violent acts.
“Public health officials are warning of a possible second-wave of COVID-19 in late 2020, which would likely result in at least some states re-implementing stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the virus, according to press reporting. Should this occur, we would expect a repeat of current responses, including additional incidents of hostility against these restrictions, some of which could result in violence targeting law enforcement or other individuals attempting to enforce the stay-at-home orders,” according to the report.
There has already been at least one incident early this month. Officials said a sheriff’s private information was published online by white supremacists who were angry about an arrest.
A Colorado man was arrested for encouraging people to illegally open-carry firearms at a planned “anti-shutdown protest,” according to the report.
“Upon his arrest, law enforcement officials discovered pipe bombs and additional bomb component materials, according to court documents and press reporting. In response to the arrest, members of an online white supremacist extremist group discussed targeting law enforcement and later doxed the sheriff’s home address,” the report stated.