Georgia, like many other US states, is awash with militia groups. This can be measured by the presence of those who represent larger coalitions nationwide like the Georgia Security Force III%, the regional or nationwide calls-to-action around armed right-wing activism such as the 15 August Stone Mountain event, as well as a continuing comradery between right-wing politicians and our sizeable militia field here. In this piece, we explore relationships between a candidate for higher office and local right-wing movements and militia groups.
For some additional context that will be made clear in this piece, I also highly recommend listening to the co-created On the Media/MilitiaWatch radio piece on Zello, available here. In the radio piece, you will hear in their own voices some of the militia groups referenced in this visual article intended to accompany and expand upon that piece.
In 2018, then-candidate Michael Williams made a spectacle of himself by touring Georgia in a ‘Deportation Bus’, riffing off of ever-too-popular right-wing talking points about Mexican immigrants in Georgia. He called his bus a show of support to Trump’s crackdown on immigrant communities, which happened mostly through ICE that year.
In 2017, the same Michael Williams also posed with the Georgia Security Force III% at an “anti-Sharia” rally in Piedmont Park, Atlanta. He was a candidate at the time and among those photographed alongside him are Chris “General BloodAgent” Hill (right side, hands in pocket, AR-15 pointing down across chest) and convicted former III% Security Force member and Charlottesville attendee Alex Michael Ramos (far right with bullhorn). Ramos, in a Facebook Live stream recorded and archived by the Atlanta Antifascists after Unite the Right, details his participation in the violence on which he was later convicted, saying “Yeah, I’m glad I stomped some ass out there, and I don’t give a fuck.”
While a candidate for governor of Georgia, now-Governor Brian Kemp took a photo with Jim “Johnny Infidel” Stachowiak at a campaign event. His campaign explained that the candidate takes “hundreds of photos a day while traveling” in order to push back against the photo op. Stachowiak is a vitriolic Islamophobic and conspiratorial online content creator who has been covered on MilitiaWatch for personally attacking and threatening Georgia III% Security Force leader Chris Hill online.
MilitiaWatch has previously tangentially covered Georgia militiaman Michael Boggus’ run for office in Georgia. Boggus, a former influential member of the III% Security Force brand of III% militia, had a falling out with Chris Hill and left during the 2019 summer schism. He fostered new relationships with the III% Originals splinter of the Declaration of Restoration (DoR) movement following the schism but joined Georgia-based White Nationalist Sidney Horton in breaking with theDoR cohort at the 20 January 2nd Amendment Lobby Day event in Richmond, Virginia. This early-2020 breakdown occurred after some involved found out that ‘armed antifa’ would be joining the right-wing militia contingent at the rally.
After losing the GOP primary for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District, Michael Boggus ended his campaign for US House as Andrew Clyde faced off against Democratic contender Devin Pandy in November. His “Michael Boggus for Congress ga district 9” campaign Facebook page continued to be highly active, sharing an assortment of right-wing content, from pro-Kyle Rittenhouse articles to ads for his III%-branded “FUCK ANTIFA” biker t-shirts to pro-police rallies in Dahlonega, Georgia.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, perhaps most well-known outside of Georgia for her political meme featuring the candidate wielding an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, is another well-connected far-right politician out of Georgia. Greene unapologetically posts and parrots QAnon conspiracy theory, something that did not inhibit her victory as a newly-minted US Representative-elect representing Georgia’s 14th congressional district.
Greene, for a period of time, also aligned with another GOP candidate for office, Kelly Loeffler. Loeffler is running in GA’s special election set for 5 January, though she recently came down with a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 after weeks of indoor, unmasked campaign stops. She returned to the campaign trail in late November after a negative test. The New York Times did an article on her in October that gives more details into her background.
Greene and Loeffler held a joint event on 19 September in Ringgold, Georgia. Among other details, the security for the event was provided by a local militia group. This was also part of Loeffler’s own promotion of the event on her Twitter account, where she referred to the crowd that included Georgia-based militia as “Patriotic Georgians”. Also among her collage of unmasked visits with supporters, she even included photos of two members of the group, whose oversize GA III% Martyrs patches are clearly visible in the foreground (more members are also visible in the background, too, but aren’t the subjects.
The militia group, the Georgia III% Martyrs, made this their first major public showing under their new name since they first gathered outside of Stone Mountain to watch the Not Fucking Around Coalition (NFAC) march through the park on 4 July 2020. The group showed up with large patches of their logo on their rigs and looked around the crowd for potential threats.
The Georgia III% Martyrs group is itself a nominal splinter group from Chris Hill’s III% Security Force, as his dramatic antics drove schisms between the north-Georgia-based group and his national network of volatile right-wing activists. The Martyrs group has itself been subject to schisms, too, resulting in the establishment of the Georgia III% Guardians.
Coincidentally, at the same campaign event featuring the Georgia III% Martyrs, local ‘former’ racist skinhead Chester Doles was removed from the event with Greene and Loeffler. Greene took a photo with Doles on 29 February earlier in the campaign alongside one of his contemporary organizations, the American Patriots USA. Just outside the August 15 Stone Mountain gathering of neo-Confederates and militias, Doles gathered with another one of his recent endeavors, the American Patriot Brotherhood III% militia.
Doles refers to Marjorie Taylor Greene as “our friend Margie” for her far-right politics. AC Lytle, a former member of the III% Security Force administered by volatile militia leader Chris Hill, took to Facebook Live to complain about Doles’ removal in a now-deleted video (she has been on and off Facebook due to bans and suspensions related to her far-right organizing).
Greene and Loeffler, beyond hosting events together and clearly having a lot of ideological overlap, have an endorsement relationship with Loeffler accepting Greene’s endorsement of her Senate campaign. In accepting, however, Loeffler distanced herself from Greene’s QAnon views, adding that “No one in Georgia cares about this QAnon business”.
Despite the controversy around Doles that pushed him to be removed from the joint Greene-Loeffler event previously, it doesn’t seem to have stuck for long. On 11 December at a rally in Dawsonville, Georgia, Doles captured another photograph with Loeffler, which he posted on his VK.
A day after this photo was taken, a ‘get out the vote’ campaigner for John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock (the two Democratic Party contenders in GA’s runoff race on 5 January) was beaten by a right-wing attacker in Stockbridge, Georgia. In the 48 hours following the attack, Loeffler did not so much as offer a tweet about the attack (despite her party colleague David Perdue doing so swiftly following the event). The attacker was arrested and charged with battery.
The Network Map
It is well known that Senator Loeffler seems to endlessly take photos with far-right activists, with a monthly or weekly story on the campaign trail marring her attempts to appear as a fairly usual GOP candidate. Before diving into the analysis below, a few articles are worth reading on this dynamic, listed below:
- Christopher Mattias (21 December 2020) “Kelly Loeffler Keeps Posing For Photos With White Supremacists And Other Extremists” in HuffPost
- Farron Cousins (21 December 2020) “Kelly Loeffler Keeps Posing For Photos With White Supremacists” in Ring of Fire
- Bruce C.T. Wright (16 December 2020) “Kelly Loeffler’s KKK Selfie Draws Attention To Other White Supremacists Supporting Her” in NewsOne
- Bill Bostock (14 December 2020) “Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler posed for a photo with a former KKK chief — but says she didn’t know who he was” in Business Insider
Loeffler is not just taking photos with these individuals. In Georgia she is highly networked within a web of organizations, individuals, and violent activity. This map is only intended as a sample of the network she’s within, but illustrates her interconnectedness (deliberate or otherwise) with some of Georgia’s militia organizations and other far-right groups.
The above map was not developed with any sort of insider knowledge. All information as to how these groups are connected are all publicly available. This could be by direct party affiliation as a member or founder of an organization (GOP candidacy) or position as a “Moderator” on a militia Zello forum. All of the links of this map are weighted by the strength of the connection, with official members and founders of organizations getting bolder connections and thinner network edges for those weaker public connections (such as photographs with or former affiliation). Finally, splinters, disaffiliated members, and defunct sub-units are indicated by dashed lines — while the connections may not be direct currently, these connections previously might have been quite strong.
Let’s look at this network map in a few particular views. First of all, Senator Kelly Loeffler’s most immediate connections. These are those she has organized events with, taken photographs with, received endorsements from, and of which she’s been a member.
None of this is particularly surprising at this point. Her Ringgold, Georgia event with Greene and the Martyrs is well known and well-documented even on her own Twitter account. The photographs with Doles and Mote and interview with Posobiec (an actor well-known for his links to white supremacists) are all over social media. A connection to the GOP and Brian Kemp are obvious given that she’s the GOP candidate and was appointed by the Georgia governor previously.
It then takes very little time to get entangled in a large network of known actors and organizations, as one more step away from these immediate connections nets the network map below:
The Georgia GOP has been dealing with a warm connection to many different radical groups pictured on this map. Candidates affiliated with militia groups (Michael Boggus) or friendly to them (Michael Williams) have run as GOP candidates. Others have succumbed to the conspiracy theory of QAnon (Marjorie Taylor Greene). And Loeffler isn’t the only one taking photos with the same few far-right activists from American Patriots USA, as Matt Gurtler and Rand Paul have both been photographed alongside key members of the group (and also posted on Chester Doles’ VK profile in celebration).
The above map does not show connections between those on the map itself, just the pathways to them via Loeffler. One more degree of separation and we are back to the full map above, reproduced here:
Within this map are several individuals who are not just committed to rhetorical and ideological far-right engagement, but many who have been connected directly to violence either real or threatened. One major source of this is the III% Security Force, whose now-defunct sub-unit, the Kansas Crusaders (itself a sub-unit of the Kansas III% Security Force, though Hill contests this), was caught plotting to bomb an apartment complex housing Somali refugees. Michael Alex Ramos, a former mainstay in the III% Security Force given the “Sargeant” title by the group’s leader, was found guilty of the brutal beating of a Black man at Unite the Right, for which he straddled his militia affiliation and fascination with Proud Boys violence. Three members of the Georgia III% Security Force were also identified as part of an armed gang assault in Atlanta at the end of last year. These men, codenamed “Treeman”, “operator”, and “Wraith”, were then publicly identified in activist footage by AntiFash Gordon. They remain part of the militia. Members of the Georgia III% Guardians, while members of the Georgia III% Martyrs, also claimed to have pointed their rifles at Black Lives Matter protesters near a mall in the Atlanta area (these individuals, the leader of the Georgia III% Martyrs claims, were removed from his group in part for this act).
Within this network map, multiple individuals were at 2017’s Unite the Right, mostly as representatives of outright fascist groups. This includes Michael Alex Ramos (III% Security Force), Sidney Horton (American Guard), and Chester Doles (American Patriots USA). Others were also involved at the A15 Stone Mountain rally documented here: members of the III% Security Force (including Hill, “bigdog“, and “Treeman“), Georgia III% Guardians (for example, Dylan Streetman, not pictured), and American Brotherhood of Patriots III% (“Smoke”/”Tex“).
If individual networked violence and gang assaults aren’t condemnable enough, multiple of the organizations represented in this graph are SPLC-designated hate groups. These include the III%, the Proud Boys, the American Patriots USA, and the American Guard.
Connections to these groups are one thing, but even Loeffler’s connection to Marjorie Taylor Greene is quite troubling. Greene endorsed Loeffler and they’ve hosted events together. The SPLC wrote up a worthwhile read on Greene’s conspiracy views and connection to hate groups, here. Intelligencer describes here pretty handily as an “extremist” in their article, here.
Some more network analysis work:
Visualization of the network is its own analysis of the network Senator Loeffler finds herself within. However, some additional data analysis of this web helps to indicate how these relationships work and where points of focus are. It’s important to note that there is a slight data bias in a few ways here, namely that this is centered around Loeffler but also only individuals engaged in high-visibility activity (running for office, committing violence, posing for photos at events, doing interviews, etc). For additional information on social network analysis and some of these metrics, here’s a brief guide from Cambridge Intelligence.
Degree metric (Deg)
(Degree is essentially the number of connections for each node)
- III% Security Force: 9
- GOP: 8
- Kelly Loeffler: 7
Betweenness metric (Between)
(Betweenness is essentially how often the node is on the shortest path between nodes)
- III% Security Force: .304
- Kelly Loeffler: .255
- Michael Boggus: .248
Closeness metric (Close)
(Cloesness is essentially, on average, how close it is to other nodes in the network)
- III% Security Force: .560
- GOP: .557
- Kelly Loeffler: .552
Reach metric (Rch
(Reach is the portion of the network within two steps out — similar to the growing networks shown in subsequent images above)
- Michael Boggus: .727
- Kelly Loeffler: .697
- Georgia III% Martyrs: .636
Eigenvector metric (EV)
(Eigenvector is essentially a weighted degree algorithm and potentially speaks to a level of influence within a network)
- GOP: .082
- Kelly Loeffler: .071
- Michael Boggus: .071
All of the above is then summarized in the table below for 4 of the most-often appearing nodes:
|III% Security Force||9||.304||.560||.576||.050|
The hope here is that the data and visualizations speak for themselves, presented on top of a flurry of reporting and research concerning this crucial moment. The Senator and candidate Kelly Loeffler is highly involved in this network–even as her campaign and press staff continue to deny that they knew who these photos involved, these actors seem particularly attracted to her brand of politics. The election is a day after this article is published, and results will be known likely a few days following. Who’s to know what sort of policy and access might be provided by a candidate keeping this company, but for now the candidate provides an important focal point for a fairly disjointed and disparate Georgia right-wing.