NBC News on September 2nd, 2020, published an article titled “Where protesters go, armed militias, vigilantes likely to follow with little to stop them“. This national issue has a version of itself that has been playing out in the City of Renton and nearby towns. Most recently, this was seen with III% counter-protesters at Black Lives Matter events in Renton this past June, but it extends even to last year.
United Christian Church-Renton had a display vandalized for being Pride related in 2019, which prompted an FBI investigation. Later, armed vigilantes with several groups (Patriot Front, Proud Boys, III%) showed up to support anti-LGBTQ+ protesters at a Drag Queen Story Hour event held at the Fairwood Library. Throughout the year and into 2020, white nationalist propaganda was frequently placed throughout public areas across Renton: street posts, parking lot lights. Swastikas were found in parks, and even on live animals (resulting in international headlines).
Some residents have communicated with the police department, who claimed the city attorney said there was no ability to track them. The city deferred this issue to the public safety committee in April, led by the police chief, but the city has made no formal announcements on the matter. The lack of public safety initiative from the city has resulted in residents self-reporting incidents and forwarding the information to nonprofits and federal task forces.
Violence has not occurred in Renton, but this has not left the region free from it. This summer, multiple people were attacked by white nationalists at the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP, formerly CHAZ). Even in Renton, where protesters go, vigilantes follow.