Who are 'Right Wing Death Squads'? Here's why people expect 'another Charlottesville' as Joe Biden takes presidency

Those on social media have seen the term 'RWDS' used on Telegram and 4chan, and continue to appear following Biden's swearing-in as President


                            Who are 'Right Wing Death Squads'? Here's why people expect 'another Charlottesville' as Joe Biden takes presidency
A member of the Proud Boys wearing a t-shirt that reads 'death to liberals' stands with other Proud Boys in Freedom Plaza during a protest on December 12, 2020, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

On January 20th, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris respectively took the oaths to become the 46th President and the 49th Vice President of the United States. Soon after, Vice President Harris swore in Alex Padilla, Jon Ossoff, and Reverend Raphael Warnock as Senators, giving Democrats the control of the Presidency, the House, and the Senate for the first time since 2010. One of the leading messages of Biden's inauguration address was unity, and moving forward without disparaging anyone regardless of whether they supported Biden's presidency bid or not.

However, the trouble is far from over as many supporters of former President, Donald Trump -- who left the White House before Biden arrived and arrived at Palm Beach, Florida for the last hour of his presidency – still believe Trump's baseless claims that the elections were stolen from him. On January 6th, pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol as the US Congress convened to certify President Biden's win in a failed insurrection attempt. Among them were members of the right-wing fringe group, Proud Boys.

Members of the Proud Boys march towards Freedom Plaza during a protest on December 12, 2020, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

While many Americans collectively heaved sighs of relief, many are still apprehensive of a peaceful future. Those on social media have seen the term "RWDS" used on Telegram and 4chan, and continue to appear following Biden's swearing-in as President. One Twitter user posted a screenshot of a message from Telegram by the user Boogaloo Intel Drop, taken from 4chan. The message reiterates the baseless claim about the 2020 presidential elections, stating, "I mean, cool, you stole the election and got your candidate in power." The message ends with, "Four years of worrying about 'Nazis', and now you've actually ensured that, at minimum, millions in American now think RWDS is a good idea."

When another user asks to clarify what "RWDS" stands for and one user replies, "Right Wing Death Squads," a third user comments, "I like."



 

What are Right Wing Death Squads?

The term "Right Wing Death Squads" is not new -- in fact, it's been used plenty of times in the 20th century in reference to Nazis in Germany, Columbia, and Argentia. However, the presence of RWDS in the United States is relatively new, appearing and gaining prominence during Trump's time as President.

Much before the January 6th insurrection attempt, there had been "RWDS" patches spotted among those who gathered to "protest" against Biden's election win. One report from The New Yorker cites the presence of Proud Boys who marched in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oregon, California, and other states, some of whom had "RWDS" patches and hats. Other insignia worn included the Nazi eagle perched on a fasces, below the acronym, "6MWE," meaning Six Million Wasn't Enough, in reference to the number of Jews killed during the holocaust. According to The Guardian, the Proud Boys sold shirts with "RWDS" on them, to raise money through their online store.

Given the recent messages, many on social media worry that an end to the violence and division is not near. One user tweeted, "This is what 4chan /pol/ is up to today. For anyone else reading who doesn’t know, 'RWDS' is short for Right-wing Death Squads. I fully anticipate another Charlottesville in the coming months—but a lot bloodier—and that’s the best-case scenario."



 

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