After a bit of a delay in publication, the MilitiaWatch monthly update for February 2022 is here below. An audio version is forthcoming, and this post will be updated to include it as soon as it’s posted. All MW updates (weeklies prior to 2022, monthlies from 2022 on) can be accessed via this link.
J6 (Finally) Goes to Trial
After an expansive season of plea deals and prison interviews, the first J6 defendant went on trial right at the end of this month. The defendant, Guy Reffitt of Texas, has been covered here on MilitiaWatch previously, namely for the over-the-top nature of his case. He threatened his children not to tell the FBI of his participation, was the leader of a III% group with a public Telegram channel in which he described his intention to buy military-grade automatic weapons for his group through his LLC, and a seemingly clear intention to repeat his actions with further escalation in the future.
This case can set a number of precedents, most notably for other J6 defendants’ impending cases. This upcoming month will provide more insight into what those might look like.
Things to read:
Ryan Lucas on NPR—“The first Jan. 6 defendant goes on trial”
Associated Press wire, hosted here by ABC27—“Many Capitol riot cases could hinge on 1st trial’s outcome”
Alan Feuer for The New York Times – “First Jan. 6 Trial to Open, Allowing Prosecutors to Set Out Broad Case”
Jordan Fischer, Eric Flack, and Stephanie Wilson for WUSA9—“A Three Percenter who was turned in by his kids after Jan. 6 goes on trial – Here’s everything you need to know”
‘Trucker’ Convoy crosses the States
After last month’s trucker convoy in Canada, US-based activists have been planning a similar event. At the end of January, the US-based convoy, mostly called the “People’s Convoy”, set off across the country, intending to arrive in DC in early March. Militia groups have resurfaced in many areas to push their ideology, recruit, and – perhaps most importantly for them – grift.
This is also a good time to say that if you haven’t been reading Left Coast Right Watch, you really should pay attention to what they’re putting out. Find LCRW on Twitter or Patreon, if that’s your interest. LCRW put out three crucial pieces about the convoy in February, collected here in chronological order:
Arizona Right Wing Watch for Left Coast Right Watch – “MAD MAGA: FURY ROAD IS COMING, IT’S JUST A MATTER OF WHERE & WHEN”
Chicago Free Media for Left Coast Right Watch – “MAD MAGA: FURY ROAD IS GETTING READY TO ROLL OUT FROM THE MIDWEST, TOO”
Arizona Right Wing Watch, Eli Knesol, and Abner Hauge for Left Coast Right Watch – “MAD MAGA: FURY ROAD PASSES THROUGH ARIZONA—HERE’S WHAT WE SAW”
Further reading on the convoy:
Kelly Weill for The Daily Beast – “Banned Militias Are Sneaking Back on Facebook to Grift Off the DC Trucker Convoy”
Shasta County militia-backed group takes control of NoCal local government
1 February was the date of an election in Shasta County, California, tied to a recall vote against the local government there. Shasta County is mostly centered around Redding, California, and the recall movement has been tied heavily to militia groups in the area. Ironically, the recall election was targeted against a former police chief less than two years after northern California police empowered local militias against BLM demonstrators. It is also worth noting that though this recall vote succeeded, a previous recall campaign aimed at the governor of California failed, despite similar far-right mobilization against him. Notably, the State of Jefferson movement, which seeks to split off parts of rural northern California into a separate state, has been quite involved in local politics that drove this mobilization.
Things to read:
Ryan Sabalow in the Sacramento Bee – “Militia-aligned group will control a Northern California county if recall vote totals hold”
Dani Anguiano in the Guardian – “California county recalls top official, giving militia-aligned group a path to government”
Anita Chabria in Los Angeles Times – “Column: Extremists are set to take over this California county. Will more of the state be next?”
Emily Deruy in Mercury News – “Could populist, militia-backed Shasta County recall effort provide roadmap for other races?”
Date set for trial of three Boogaloo adherents involved in lethal 2020 spree
Three guilty pleas were thrown out this month for Boogaloo adherents who acted, accompanied, or assisted in Bay Area Boogaloo shootings during the summer of 2020. The judge decided that the men were undeniably a risk to the public and refused to let them take plea deals, insisting they must sit trial for their actions. Steven Carillo, the shooter who killed a federal court officer, pleaded guilty to two federal offenses related to the murder. Strangely, the judge required him to read his own plea agreement out loud in court so it would be entered into court record.
Things to read:
Nate Gartrell in the Times-Herald – “‘Cowards like you fear true bravery’: Ex-Air Force sergeant with Boogaloo militia ties pleads guilty to killing Oakland federal court officer”
Associated Press wire, hosted here by Mercury News – “Guilty pleas tossed for Bay Area militia members connected to Oakland federal officer slaying”
White Rabbits militia leader pleads guilty to attack on abortion center
Emily Claire Hari pleaded guilty early this month to conspiracy charges related to her militia group’s plan to bomb an abortion clinic in southern Illinois. Hari was previously convicted on charges related to a bomb attack against a mosque in Minnesota and an attempted bombing of an apartment complex in Illinois. Hari’s militia, the “White Rabbits 3 Percent Illinois Patriot Freedom Fighters Militia” (MW tag here), at one point attempted to recruit through protests against FBI searches and seizures. Hari was a heavy user of the MyMilitia forums, where she posted recruitment materials and a call-to-action against the police as they surrounded the militia’s hideout before their eventual arrests. The militia members at one point also attempted to blame their actions and plans on Trump’s right-wing rhetoric, though their plea down this avenue was ultimately unsuccessful.
Things to read:
Chuck Goudie, Ross Weidner, Christine Tressel, and Barb Markoff for ABC7 – “White Rabbit militia leader pleads guilty to attack on Illinois abortion center”
Fox Illinois/WCCU/WICS – “Militia leader pleads guilty to attack on Champaign women’s clinic”
Other things worth reading:
Blue Alaskan put out a noteworthy dive into a III% leader who is gatekeeping elected officials, interviewing them and boosting them to his far-right constituency. Read it here: Assembly candidates embrace militia agitator to promote campaigns
Franklin County militia pushes for recognition in Virginia, gets denied: Jason Dunovant in The Roanoke Times