Reddit is home to a flourishing community of edgy anarchists who speak openly about overthrowing the government. With the inauguration of President Trump, members of the forum have expressed a desire to escalate their protest actions to full-scale violence, calling for open warfare and terrorism.
A thread titled “Why not get violent?” (archive) calls for activists to step up their efforts beyond simply showing solidarity against Trump’s policies in peaceful protest. One poster suggested firebombing City Halls across the nation to bring the government to its knees.
“Why not take it a step further?” he asked. “Imagine if millions of people who showed up today had thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails at the city halls they gathered around. Imagine if that many people showed up and actually did something.” [emphasis is the poster’s]
“If they really want to get Trump’s and the government’s attention, why don’t they just start the biggest riot we’ve ever seen? Burn down a f**king building! I’m not just saying that as some edgy guy who wants chaos and destruction. I just don’t understand why so many people are so close to getting it right, but they don’t.”
The anarchist compared living under Trump to being a chained captive, and suggested that the answer to liberation is to “kick him in the balls and bite his ear off so you can get the key out of his pocket to free yourself.”
Several responders disagreed with the suggestion of violence, stating that peaceful protest was more effective, but their arguments were drowned out by others who stated that violence is the only way to topple capitalist hierarchies. They mocked peaceful liberal efforts like the Women’s March. More pragmatic voices stated that the anarchist movement simply lacked the numbers to be effective.
Elsewhere on the forum, popular posts celebrated violence on the streets of Washington DC during the inauguration, with posts cheering on the Black Bloc—violent anarchists who wear black clothing and conceal their faces to commit assaults and vandalism without repercussions from the law.
Black bloc rioters were responsible for damaging parked cars, torching a limousine owned by a small business, and destroyed storefronts. Police say that a significant percentage of the group was armed with crowbars and hammers. In clashes with protesters, police deployed water cannons and pepper spray. The violence resulted in more than 200 arrests.
The posts on the Anarchism forum are in clear violation of Reddit’s content policy, which prohibits any content that “encourages or incites violence.” A further explanation of the rule states that users must “not post content that incites harm against people or groups of people.” Nevertheless, the posts remain live.
Other communities, including FatPeopleHate (which made fun of overweight individuals) and Pizzagate (a forum for discussing the Pizzagate conspiracy theory) have been banned for far less serious infractions than the calls for political violence present in the Anarchism postings.
It’s now a question of whether Reddit will act to uphold its rules, or ignore violent advocacy against the government.