Militias March on Richmond, Post-Mortem 01: a new decade of militia activity, cold feet, and the “antifa” schism

The first of a few posts on the 20 January 2A rally in Virginia, this on a new schism among an already divided field.

This post is another promised follow-up from a previous piece in an ongoing saga of III% splinters in the past year. Therefore, it is highly recommended that readers of this piece first review of what has preceded it within the movement:

Much has happened since this previous article, but this update seeks to focus on another falling out emanating from the January 20th Virginia gathering anticipated in the previous article. Another article will detail more of this gathering in context with future militia activism, but this one focuses on an important fracture within the movement.

Mike Rage and Tammy Lee seemed confident and excited about the energy surrounding the January 20 2nd Amendment rally planned as a march on Virginia’s capital following the threat of gun reform at the state level. They were by no means the primary organizers of the rally but had been hyping up the event and preparing for New York organizing well beyond the MLK Day gathering, too. This future planned event has since been canceled due to COVID19-related closures.

So what even was January 20?

As mentioned above, a later piece will detail more of the specifics of the January 2A rally, but a bit of context is necessary to understand some of this thread of happenings. This event was basically a gathering of a whole slew of different 2nd Amendment activists, from Oathkeepers to III%ers to non-militia organizations such as the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), the organizers of the event.

Several thousand protesters arrived at the capital for the VCDL’s annual Lobby Day Rally on the 20th of January, many of them armed. A region of the capital was demarcated as a “gun-free zone” but some activists ignored these barriers. No violence was reported at the gathering and a whole assortment of right-wing conspiracy theories about the event never came to fruition.

Many of the movements connected to 2A activism, and especially those that consider themselves to be militias, are spaces of harsh competition, angry strife, and deeply-held grudges. This means that a big-tent event such as this one can bring together people who (despite having a lot of the same beliefs) don’t much like one another. While this didn’t play out on the streets on 20 January, it played out in the backrooms (or, more specifically, the dinner tables) of the event.

A cohort of folks covered in the pages of MilitiaWatch and elsewhere arrive in Richmond, Virginia ahead of the VCDL’s event: Mike Rage, Tammy Lee, Gary Sigler, Michael Boggus, and many more.

A quick review: Tammy Lee and Gary Sigler were married at the time and involved with the Declaration of Restoration (DoR) organized by Mike Rage and Tammy Lee. Michael Boggus, a Georgia resident and candidate for a GOP spot in the 9th district, was previously part of Chris Hill’s Georgia Security Force III% before the major schism this past summer.

Tammy Lee worked as a spokesperson for Militias March on Richmond, an informal activist pole helping steer organization of militias at the event. A few others within her circle worked on the security side of this cohort. This group, drawing from a nationwide audience of 2A activists rather than a more local Virginia one, has sporadically continued its organizing and will be discussed further in a later piece. It is separate from the Virginia Militia Alliance, which was the more local Virginia organization for the event, also to be discussed in a later piece.

Tammy Lee, however, was an important nationwide voice for this 20 January rally within the militia or “Patriot” sphere. She’s consistent in her posting, unafraid to take swings at people within her field of vision, and has multiple pages for doubling her reach against Facebook algorithms and page bans.

Sidney Horton at the end of a clandestine video of her conversation with Tammy Lee and Mike Rage

Another important individual here is Sidney Horton, a fast-talking young right-wing activist who gained increasing popularity among an older cadre of militia activists ahead of the 20 January Virginia rally.

Horton, who has also used the names “Based Southern Belle” and “Avialae Horton” or “Avialae Augury” in her previous activism, has been involved with such troubling White Nationalist events as the well-known 2017 Unite the Right in Charlottesville, its failed sequel event in 2018, and the canceled Rock Stone Mountain II event just outside of Atlanta. As her local organizing and pen names indicate, Horton is from Georgia.

On January 19th in the evening before the bigger gathering, Sidney Horton drove up to Richmond to meet with many of these other familiar faces at a diner just hours after releasing a conspiracy video about a “kill zone” set up on the capitol grounds to exterminate right-wing activists. (Though no “kill zone” obviously happened, multiple white nationalists from The Base discussed opening fire at the rally to kick something off — Horton knew of these arrests and in the same video as she claimed this “kill zone”, actually defended these same members of The Base saying that FBI evidence was flimsy.)

What transpired that night was something that caused yet another implosion within these right-wing organizing spaces. Sidney Horton and Michael Boggus, working in tandem to record secret audio statements from Tammy Lee and Mike Rage, documented these two DoR activists discussing their own reasoning over planning with 3 “Antifa” activists the two had invited to a 2A organizing meeting over dinner. Horton, in a now-deleted tearful live-stream, announced she was leaving Richmond due to fears over her own security in the wake of this meeting.

She then began to spread the information that she gathered about “antifa” invited to the event, eliciting numerous posts, reactions, and clarifications from those involved.

For example, Gary Sigler (Tammy Lee’s then-husband) made a lengthy public post about Horton’s revelations, disparaging her and her cohort for being mad at his outreach to John Brown Gun Club (“JBGC”) members in the area. Sigler’s post also mentions Redneck Revolt (“RR”), another leftist project that features armed self-defense as core to the group. Redneck Revolt was a constant target by Horton in her peddling of the conspiracy theory that James Alex Field, the violent right-wing activist who murdered Heather Heyer, was chased by an armed antifascist before plowing into a group of counter-protesters. (This, obviously, didn’t happen, but that doesn’t appear to matter much to Horton.)

Sigler also tags Christian Yingling, the ill-fated head of the Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia (written about here) and awkward, remorseful attendee of the militia security cohort at Unite the Right gathering in Charlottesville. Yingling is well-documented both by traditional media and within the articles of MilitiaWatch. Also mentioned is John Cody, a South Carolina Lightfoot Militia member (codename “Hawkeye”).

Cody and Sigler, it turns out, were deeply involved in outreach and coalition-building with groups they thought to be left-wing guns rights folks. These two were also involved in the Declaration of Restoration (DoR) event discussed in the article linked at the top of this one. Sigler has since deleted his Facebook account (likely related to more contemporary happenings), but, like nearly everyone else mentioned in this article, John Cody remains quite active on social media, even offering his SC Lightfoot Militia’s support in defending places of worship in the time of shelter-in-place policies.

Tammy Lee, in one of her many Facebook live streams, offered her side on the situation. When commenters asked about involving “antifa”, Mike Rage joined in, saying “Damn right we did.”

Mike Rage, in one of his own Facebook live streams, discussed the fact that his cohort paid for Sidney Horton’s involvement in Richmond. This was something brought up in the secretly- recorded conversation between Tammy, Mike, and Sidney, despite Horton’s now-deleted tearful stream insinuating that her involvement had cost her the last of her financial resources.

Michael Boggus had his own point of view to share in this, too, tying DoR’s outreach as something that infringed on his ability to choose his allies in this struggle, leading a lengthy post leading with the sentence “Unity without choice is communism.”

This was the first time he publicly mentioned his support for Horton in this happening, even as she had been claiming him as a witness beforehand.

In a screenshot captured by Twitter user wehearttrash, Mike Rage realizes Horton’s aggressively-right wing views. Tammy replies, screenshotting an ItsGoingDown tweet about Horton’s writing on the “Jewish Question”.

This then begs a few questions about this event, and specifically this cohort from the Declaration of Restoration folks. Why was Sidney Horton’s involvement paid-for? How did they know her well enough to invite her and feature her? What does this relationship mean?

Returning to the Declaration of Restoration

So, first of all, I’ve taken the header image for the previous MW article on the DoR and the schism of III%SF below, with some now-familiar faces highlighted:

From left-to-right, those circled are Tammy Lee, Mike Rage, John Cody, Sidney Horton, and Michael Boggus. This is actually fairly convenient placement due to the fact that the new split in the DoR cohort involves Horton and Boggus (the right-most in the image) splitting off to form a more aggressive right-wing alliance as Lee, Rage, and Cody continue more-or-less on the paths they had already set.

Sidney Horton was deeply involved in the Declaration of Restoration march in DC that Rage and Lee organized.

Here, for example, is the photo upon which another militia leader, George Curbelo, complimented Rage for his work in organizing the event. You’ll notice a few folks mentioned above in the top row of photos. At left is Rage taking a photo with Horton. At right, Lee leans into the same shot. That Horton was featured in the original MW piece about DoR is no coincidence, as she was marching closely with all of the leadership of this event. Their relationship then continued from there until the falling out right before the 20 January gathering in Virginia.

It’s honestly a little surprising that Lee and Rage didn’t seem to realize Horton’s extremist views if they had been organizing with her for a few months by this point. However, it’s maybe a little bit less surprising when, for example, seeing that Chris Hill seemed not to realize his own group had involved Proud Boys and people holding Nazi views. This could also very well be feigned ignorance, as the militia field is prone to an inactive membership outside of the unending battleground of Facebook.

The fallout: so where have they gone from here?

Mike Rage and Tammy Lee, after taking a quick break from Facebook in the wake of the Horton happening, have been posting pretty consistently from their pages and alt pages in the months since Virginia.

John Cody has carried on doing what he’s been doing but now more often sticks to South Carolina work over nationwide activism.

The political views of these folks have remained pretty constant, though some developments within their specific cohorts have impacted their involvement in militia work since (more on this to follow).

Sidney Horton and Michael Boggus, taking the same side in the schism among the Declaration of Restoration folks, have become Facebook friends and consistently interact with each other’s posts even now.

This seems to have coincided with a continuing move to the right for Boggus, who is running for office in his home state of Georgia. He claims to own the second place in polls for his Congressional District, but this remains to be likely. He still uses a III%SF cover photo on his public Facebook page and a photo of himself from the Declaration of Restoration as his profile picture while using the page to make campaign announcements.

Horton’s friendship with Boggus (which deserves more investigation than I can provide in this short article) has also involved her endorsement of him in his run for office.

Horton also appears to be doing some not-so-public work for Boggus’ campaign, alongside another long-time III%SF buddy of Boggus, AC Lytle. Both Lytle and Horton were referenced by Boggus as points of contact for public/social media writing work for his campaign.

This is likely pretty relevant to Boggus’ move to the right, as it now appears that he is running the Facebook page for SPLC-designated white nationalist north Georgia organization “American Patriots USA”. The organization’s leadership is dominated by KKK and neo-Nazis, detailed in a piece from February here. This is not to say that people involved in militias don’t often hold such extreme political views, but it is not unlikely that a burgeoning friendship with Horton has exposed Boggus to all sorts of new right-wing folks he may not have interfaced with otherwise. As with most militia politics, this remains a developing situation and may change in the coming months.

More has happened with Mike Rage and Tammy Lee, though. About a week before this article was published, Rage reiterated that he has left the Patriot movement. In doing so, he cited the drama and backstabbing that’s fairly endemic within the militia milieu.

According to Rage, Lee, who worked with her then-husband Gary Sigler in so much of this activist work, caught Sigler with some side women and is now seeking a divorce from him. This is something that has now become difficult because Sigler has disappeared. With his disappearance, Rage and Lee have now started publicly dating, and Rage has posted multiple selfies from airplanes traveling to and from visits with Lee despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 13 April, Rage even live-streamed a video directed at Sigler, in which he made a series of veiled threats and aggressive comments about and at Sigler, encouraging anyone with any remaining contact to send his video to this audience of one.

Reverberations and echoes of the 19 January drama

This does not appear to have gone away, either. Remember that many of these folks hold onto grudges for months or years after some of these splits. The discussions of outreach “across the aisle” are fierce and polarizing within the militia spheres.

In some cases, members have been castigated by those in the Horton-Boggus axis for discussing the need to combat racism within the United States. It has caused members of the former DoR alliance to reassess their involvement in the militia space in general.

The statewide lockdowns associated with COVID-19 may have slowed some militia activism or organization in the short-run. Questions of some of this right-wing organizing remain up in the air as we prepare for the summer, a time often correlated with greater street activism and militia schisms alike.

Only time will tell what this small segment of the militia right will look like by the end of the summer, much less by next year.

Originally posted on MilitiaWatch on .

Exported and reposted July 28, 2020.

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