Monthly: Mar 22

Another month, another MilitiaWatch Monthly. This time, we’re covering the broad strokes of March 2022. Read last month’s update here or January’s here. If you’d prefer to listen to an audio version of the information below, you may want to check out the MilitiaWatchMonthly podcast — an update covering February and March will be out soon. All MW updates (weeklies prior to 2022, monthlies from 2022 on) can be accessed via this link.

J6 Trials Continue

Trials for those accused of participating in the January 6 storming of the US Capitol Building continued this month. One of the most interesting updates from these J6 trials is that of Lucas Denney, who plead guilty to one count in mid-March. Denney is a III% adherent and a member of the Patriot Boys militia, for which MW has very little information. A guilty plea is usually not that interesting and maybe means there’s information being shared with prosecutors in many cases. In this case, however, it looks like the DoJ in haste didn’t complete filing the charges against Denney, making this plea likely one that obstructs further charges due to double jeopardy rules. Notably, his J6 actions include hitting a cop with a pole.

This past month, the J6 committee has also quietly expanded its staff as they pivot to look a bit beyond the direct participants themselves. Of note, they have been looking into the tweet by Donald Trump that encouraged J6 participants to “Be there, will be wild!” They are also apparently looking for more information about how militia groups planned for the event, and are giving particular attention to the Proud Boys.

Michigan Plot Trials Continue

At the end of the month, FBI Special Agent Tim Bates (who went by “Red” when posing as an explosives expert, testified about his infiltration of the Wolverine Watchmen Militia. He testified in the trial of Barry Croft Jr, Adam Fox, Brandon Caserta, and Daniel Harris. Bates confirmed that Fox told him the explosives would be used to destroy a bridge near the vacation house of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Previous hearings in the ongoing trials of the four men have featured recordings of the men planning. A recent guilty plea by two of the conspirators, Ty Garbin Kaleb Franks, has led to their testifying against the other alleged participants, too. Recent testimony has also revealed that the 2020 presidential election was a key target for the armed men. Unsurprisingly, the defense has told the jury that violent Facebook posts were jokes and memes. Given that there has been some overlap with the Boogaloo movement, this is unsurprising but likely will not be taken too seriously by the jury or the judge

Things to read:

David Neiwert for Daily Kos – “Michigan militiamen hoped their kidnapping plot would spark nationwide ‘Boogaloo’ civil war”

Tresa Baldas and Frank Witsil for Detroit Free Press – “Whitmer kidnap trial opens with wild stories of pot, hog-tying governor, civil war”

Boogaloo Adherents Go to Ukraine, Immediately Flee

A handful of Boogaloo adherents headed out to Ukraine to join the war effort against the invading Russian military. Among them were VICE News boosted Mike Dunn from Virginia and a contact of his from Ohio, Henry Hoeft (Hoeft was profiled by local news when he was leaving). Dunn broadcast on TikTok his presence in nearby Georgia as part of the Georgian Foreign Legion before his account was taken down. With him in social media posting, and taking in money through far-right-friendly Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo, was Hoeft. Henry has a troubled Boogaloo history, including direct contact with some pretty nasty cells under the half-pseudonym “Henry Locke”. [short MW thread on Hoeft here]

Hoeft and company joined in Ukraine and within a couple of weeks made a video expressing to other would-be vols that the journey was not worth it and he was underequipped and had likely been scammed, saying clearly about his experience that “it’s a trap”. Other foreign volunteers in Ukraine have made fun of him since.

A full archive of Hoeft’s footage from Ukraine is hosted on a Boogaloo YouTube channel. It mostly appears to be clandestinely-recorded audio of English-language conversations with other volunteers about being afraid, feeling trapped, and planning to leave.

People’s Convoy Arrives in DC, Meets with Republicans

The US version of the Canadian trucker convoy arrived in DC this month after a cross-country road trip starting in Southern California. The group very gingerly approached DC, preferring to mostly drive around just outside of the US capital via an encampment in Hagerstown, Maryland. However, some leaders of the convoy did make their way into DC and received a warm welcome from Republican lawmakers, some of whom treated the convoy as a campaign stop.

A Boogaloo adherent, Brandon Jackson, argued with members of the trucker convoy at their encampment outside of DC before getting arrested and charged with two misdemeanors for carrying a loaded handgun. Jackson was arrested wearing a “We the People AZ Alliance” T-shirt. [Note: the VICE News article above conflates Brandon Jackson with Ricky Bobby, another participant who wore a Johnny Cash t-shirt]

Further reading:

GOP Sheriff Defends Ties to Paramilitary Group

Lora Thomas, a Republican candidate for sheriff in Douglas County, Colorado, defended her ties this month to the FEC United after its founder, Joe Oltmann, called for the mass hanging of Democrats and other political enemies. These threats included a message directly to the Democratic Party governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, for whom Oltman said “You are a traitor. Gallows.” FEC United is the political wing of the United American Defense Force, a paramilitary organization that works closely with conservative and anti-mask elements in the state [MW tag for UADF].

Other things worth reading:

Hannah Allam has put together some timely analysis of how right-wing activists are pivoting from anti-restrictions activism towards the midterms. It can be read in The Washington Post here.

Edit: Thanks to @QRemedyResearch on Twitter for pointing out an error regarding Brandon Jackson and “Ricky Bobby” in the US Convoy section above. A conflation of the two appeared in the initial text and has since been remedied.