The 2016 presidential election has seemingly caused an uptick in politically-motivated violence, as two of the most polarizing candidates in modern history vie for the highest office in the nation. Nearly every single group involved in the election has become a target in one way or another, from the supporters of each party and even the candidates themselves.
Some of the most recent reported violence tied to the election unfolded Tuesday when a historically-black church was set ablaze and a polling volunteer was injured in separate instances. The volunteer in Texas was sliced by a Donald Trump and Mike Pence sign lined with eight box-cutter blades at a polling place. He was attempting to reposition it so it would no longer block the "Vote Here" sign it was placed in front of.
"It wasn't a prank as far as it looked to me it looks like something intentional to hurt somebody," Collin County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet told Fox 4 News.
Later that night, a 111-year-old Georgia church was set in flames, with the most damage striking the sanctuary located inside. Outside of the church, the words "Vote Trump" were sprayed in white graffiti on the side of the building. Greenville Fire Chief Ruben Brown said an investigation concluded the fire was intentional.
Campaign offices have also become targets to violence. Earlier this month, the Orange County Republican Party headquarters in North Carolina were vandalized overnight by a firebomb that caused extensive damage to the office, in an attack GOP candidate Donald Trump claimed was spurred by "animals representing Hillary Clinton."
"Someone has firebombed through the window of the Republican Party next to me and sprayed all over the side of my building, 'Nazi Republicans leave town or else,'" a 911 caller reported.
Reports of attempted violence against both Republicans and Democrats have remained consistent throughout the election. 27-year-old Jasper K. Bell was arrested and charged with intimidating a public servant and telephone harassment after threatening his local Rep. Jim McDermott for supporting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton rather than Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. Bell warned McDermott he "would not be safe, even after he retires" and would "cut his tongue out" for supporting the former secretary of state.
Both Clinton and Trump have faced their own share of attempted violence, with Secret Service rushing to both of their sides at multiple rallies after protestors stormed security barricades and rushed toward their stages. A 20-year-old British man was arrested at a Trump rally in Las Vegas on June 18 when he tried to grab hold of a police officer’s firearm to assassinate the Republican nominee. His efforts to secure the gun failed and he is currently facing up to 20 years in prison. His family has pleaded for his release, claiming he was delusional when he traveled to the United States, driving from California to the Las Vegas Strip, to follow through with his plan.
To be sure, not everyone is embracing the election's dark side. A GoFundMe page established to repair the Hopewell Baptist Church had garnered over $150,000 in donations by Thursday morning. A GoFundMe page created by Democrats and supporting efforts to rebuild the GOP offices in North Carolina surpassed its donation goals, receiving nearly $13,000 shortly after the attack. The North Carolina GOP thanked Clinton for condemning the attack.
"We've had a lot of people reach out. We've had a lot of people who aren't political who are at the office volunteering," Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the state Republican Party, told the Charlotte Observer. "We have heard from some Democrat groups. I agree with both Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump that these were animals who did this, no matter who they represent, and it's disgusting and unacceptable."