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A nation divided: Events across America plagued with violence

R.C. Maxwell | OW Contributor | 8/31/2017, midnight
The scene of violence in Berkeley over the past weekend was one all too familiar for Americans who have frequented ...

The scene of violence in Berkeley over the past weekend was one all too familiar for Americans who have frequented the kinds of political rallies we've seen across the country since the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. Thirteen people were arrested in Berkeley following brawls and unrest over what thousands of counter protesters deemed hate speech from event organizer Joey Gibson. He cancelled a “free speech” event as a protective measure stemming from threats he received from left-wing radicals known as anti-fascists or “antifa.”

Despite cancelling the event, Gibson found himself surrounded by groups of people dressed in black with garments concealing their faces in the heart of Berkeley before police were able to prevent any harm to the controversial Trump supporter.

Unlike violence in Charlottesville, Va., where right-wing extremists were feeling stings of ties to White supremacy-aligned groups like neo-Nazis and the KKK, this time it was the anti-fascist network being scrutinized by conservatives that called on prominent progressive figures to condemn the group.

Despite the political spectrum someone falls under, it’s obvious that the country is divided politically, a division which was perhaps unearthed by the election of President Trump, likely the most socially polarizing president in the modern era.

There have been hundreds of events in 2017 geared toward either rejecting or supporting his agenda, and extremists on each side have gravitated toward the political arena resulting in toxic discourse from both sides.

The nation—and world—watched as turmoil unfolded at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville that left dozens injured and one dead. Fingers were pointed by each side and President Trump received harsh criticism for what many characterized as a slow response to the violence. More importantly, the president was slow to denounce the White supremacists dawning swastikas as responsible for the mayhem which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, who was hit by a car while marching in the name of “free speech.”

Police agencies still haven't shown any signs that indicate they can keep protesters safe, and many Americans are left wondering how we arrived at such a tumultuous political climate..

Tensions Rising

The election of President Barack Obama reportedly resulted in racism both overt and covert seeping into criticisms about his governance. Racial dialogue once again became significant and concepts like “color-blindness” were regarded as a rejection of identity for minorities in America. It didn't stop with race, because over the past several years the nation has seen an uptick of discussions about gender identity, islamophobia, and socio-economic ills that millions of Americans face daily.

Despite this trajectory, Trump won the election on an “anti-identity” platform. Classes of people once considered a priority to be shielded from potential harm like undocumented citizens and refugees, were targeted by candidate Trump during his “Make America Great Again” speeches.

The popular vote is proof that Trump's agenda was something half of the country opposed. People who wanted to see the national policy agenda focus on racial injustice, gender-based discrimination, and wealth inequalities aligned themselves firmly within levels of the Democratic Party and the result was the prominent rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 primary season.