Weekly: 25 Jan 2021

This week, several key developments get covered in the weekly update:

  • J6 conspiracy charges for Oath Keepers
  • Boogaloo call-to-action sees low engagement
  • An Inauguration marked by militia stand-down orders
  • Further links between Michigan militia and local GOP emerge

Further updates on J6 uprising:

The FBI made charges of conspiracy against three Oath Keepers among those who stormed the US Capitol Building on 6 January. These federal charges were levied against Thomas Edward Caldwell, Jessica Watkins, and Donovan Ray Crowl. Caldwell allegedly said he wanted to trap lawmakers in the building and “turn on gas”. Watkins was quoted in the Guardian piece on Zello use at the Capitol.

The FBI said that the Oath Keepers planned the attack as a group. One of the arrestees also apparently had instructions on how to make explosives out of bleach in her home. Othere arrests this past week include a Proud Boys member and an Army reservist. An arrestee’s wife told the FBI that he threatened his children against turning him in to the authorities, allegedly saying to them “traitors get shot”.

Contrary to statements made by Capitol Police days after the incident, an intelligence report warned 3 days prior to the gathering that Congress itself could be targeted by protesters on 6 January.

In weird weekly trivia, Kroger also removed an Oath Keepers group from their rewards donation program. The program allows for customer-directed giving towards thousands of 501(c)(3)’s, of which the Oath Keepers were one.

17-20 January, Boogaloo gatherings and inauguration of Biden

A Boogaloo call-to-action for 17 January appears to have prompted only small showings in some states. Those that saw some Boogaloo appearances on 17 January were:

  • Lansing, Michigan
  • Concord, New Hampshire
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Salem, Oregon
  • Austin, Texas

An event at a sixth capital (Atlanta) was also held on the 17th, but only 2 people showed up and it’s unclear if they were actually Boogaloo.

On 18 January, the VCDL Lobby Day events led to multiple armed groups wandering around Richmond, Virginia, ranging from Proud Boys to Boogaloo groups and more. The VCDL caravan drove into and through Richmond with much lower numbers than their mass gathering of around 25,000 last year.

The inauguration of Biden, seen as a potential flashpoint for militias and other related groups, was taken extremely seriously by the security apparatus of the US government, which sent over 10,000 National Guard troops to lock down the US capital. Among these troops, 12 were removed from security for their ties to right-wing militia groups.

Some militia commanders called for a mass stand-down on the 20th given the overwhelming response and the need for public relations work by the groups. Norman Olson of the Michigan Militia also made this point clear. Stewart Rhodes of the Oath Keepers, however, made comments to his members to prepare for violence against the “illegitimate” administration of Biden.

Michigan updates:

In the news this past week is that Michigan GOP Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey also apparently met with militia groups. More can be read on that here. Also, informant members of the militia helped the FBI crack the alleged kidnapping plot.

Further reading:

  • On social media and misinformation driving militia groups. (KOAA)
  • On QAnon and Joe Biden’s policy driving militia groups. (Newsweek)
  • On US militia groups and the Capitol riot. (BBC)