In Georgia, 2020 fault lines run deep 11 months ago

In Georgia, 2020 fault lines run deep

“I’d draw a fat target on that ass,” Chris Hill laughs after watching a couple of Atlanta strippers pole dancing - part of an effort to increase turnout among young black men in their city. “I got slapped in the face the last time I did that.” He was watching the last video we’d published from the US campaign trail.

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Chris, also known as General Blood Agent, is the leader of a Georgia militia called the III% Security Force. At times his paramilitary group has been called “America’s largest right-wing militia,” critics call them white supremacists.

Militias like the three per centers have been thrust out of the dark corners of the internet, “I’m an alt right personality, I’ve been banned from Facebook, Instagram, PayPal, fuck you Mark Zuckerberg” Chris says, and into the mainstream by none less than president Donald Trump.

When Trump was asked to disavow white supremacist groups, he asked the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” When Trump was asked to commit to a peaceful transferral of power should he lose, he said “we’ll have to see what happens.”

So it was concerning to hear Chris tell me that in the event of a contested election and Nancy Pelosi being elected president, a slim possibility but the speaker of the house is technically third in line for the office, he would “grab [his] firearm and run out the front door screaming like a banshee.”

The firearm in question is an AR-15, although Chris would prefer an M16 (the standard issue assault rifle he trained with in the Marines). After meeting in the veteran’s garage we headed into the woods for some target practice. Chris and his mate Corey did fire and move drills, targeting steel plates hanging from shepherd’s hooks hanging amongst the brush.

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After emptying a magazine into the final target Chris shouted “Guns up,” the III% Security Force motto, and on the way back to the trucks repeated himself and held three fingers out in front of his chest.

“Right now, there’s nowhere safer in McDonough, Georgia than this woodland,” Chris said.

We’d come from Atlanta, with the pole dancers Chris made a crass remark about. They told us about their ‘Get Your Booty To The Poll’ initiative and I got a lesson from a pole competitor and instructor.

Georgia has voted Republican for a long time but in 2020 it could flip to the Democrats – if the poll dancers’ efforts are successful. While their turn out message is bipartisan, an obvious consequence of increasing voting among young black men would be a surge in Democratic support. Like Texas, political lines can be drawn between rural and urban communities. The key is whether Atlanta and its kind will outweigh the rest. If it does, it will be a terrible night for Donald Trump.