Monthly: Jun 23

Hey y’all and happy July. Here’s the MilitiaWatch Monthly for June 2023, featuring some such stories as:

  • III% adherents get appointed to local office
  • Border militia activity leads to threats of violence in two states
  • Republicans get weird about state and insurrectionary violence
  • Lawyers for the Oath Keepers have Quite A Month
  • Ammon talks big talk online from his orchard

Last month’s MW Monthly (May) can be read here:

III% Adherents Go for Office, Push for Transphobic Local Policy

The III% movement, founded on an insurrectionist interpretation of the 2nd Amendment but largely repurposed as a paramilitary and state-loving movement after Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral victory, has taken an unprecedented spike in attempts to push for appointed local office this month.

  • On June 22, William Formica, a III% adherent, was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Souderton Area School District in Pennsylvania.
  • On June 27, GOP in Arizona nominated candidates to replace a senator who resigned earlier in the month. One of those nominees is a III% adherent named Paul Carver.

On June 17, a transphobic group called “Sovereign Women Speak” hosted a rally in Lynnwood, Washington, to protest against a recent court ruling. Washington III%, California III%, and Oregon III% adherents all attended the rally and were thanked by the transphobic organizers’ leader. In the past month, the same organizer has retweeted cheers for footage of Irish fascists beating up counter-demonstrators and police roughly arresting trans-affirming protesters. Gays Against Groomers, who also co-organized the Lynnwood rally, helped organize an April rally in Olympia where the Washington III% leader spoke extensively about his faith and how it drives/informs his far-right militancy.

Relatedly, according to the Daily Beast, Michigan Republican Dean Brandt said at a June 5 campaign stop that his candidacy for the Allegan County Sheriff is an opening for the Michigan Liberty Militia, the local group that provided key organizational space for the Michigan Wolverine Watchmen militia that plotted to kidnap the Michigan Governor in 2020.

Border Militia Activity Heats Up in Texas and Arizona

On May 30, federal prosecutors accused two militia adherents of planning to murder migrants and Border Patrol agents on the US-Mexico border with the intention of starting a war. The two men, Bryan Perry of Tennessee and Jonathan O’Dell of Missouri, face a 44-count indictment based in some part on the videos Perry posted on his own TikTok. Throughout 2022, the two men tried to recruit sympathetic people into their militia, called the 2nd American Militia, using O’Dell’s home as a storehouse for guns, ammo, and supplies.

Throughout this month, Veterans On Patrol has been extremely active near the US-Mexico Border. However, during June they escalated harassment of a camp run by the NGO No More Deaths, which advocates for the undocumented traveling through the harsh deserts of the region. On June 13, for example, an associated media personality claimed to have taken Idaho State Senator Phil Hart, a Republican, to the camp. Alongside this visibility and the attention that having a standing legislator visit the border with them, the group has increased their patrol presence this past month.

Federal Lawmakers Have a Weird Month

On June 8, US Representative Clay Higgins of Louisiana tweeted something very weird, sending a thinly-veiled message to his right-wing followers. Early interpretation from others concluded that he meant to prepare for kinetic civil war. Higgins has previously said he would shoot anyone who showed up armed or in black block in a weird Facebook post that had a picture of the Not Fucking Around Coalition (NFAC) on it. He walked back his recent statements after criticism in another weirdly-written message and claimed that any violence was falling into a trap set by the feds.

Following a hearing in early June on supposed ‘anti-right bias’ among the FBI, Dems are now accusing one GOP star witness of lying under oath during the House hearing. Specifically, FBI members have come out to accuse Garret O’Boyle of having leaked information from the bureau to Project Veritas.

Oath Keepers Lawyers Have Mixed Month

On June 20, DC District Judge Amit Mehta ruled that Kellye SoRelle, who claimed to be general counsel for the Oath Keepers, was incompetent to stand trial. Feds will hold SoRelle in custody for mental health treatment as she faces charges related to the storming of the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.

KrisAnne Hall, a far-right online radio host associated with the Oath Keepers, spoke at the Moms for Liberty national summit in Pennsylvania that started at the end of June. Hall is a lawyer who is also highly connected with the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a far-right and white nationalist-linked organization.

Moms for Liberty isn’t quite a militia but has some significant cultural overlap with the Patriot Movement from which right-wing paramilitarism arises. The Southern Poverty Law Center designated the far-right group as “anti-student inclusion” in their most recent hate report. The national summit isn’t Hall’s first Moms for Liberty appearance, as she hosted a weird lecture in February for the group’s main Facebook page.

#BBQStandoff Going Strong, We Guess?

Ammon Bundy continued his one-sided “BBQ Standoff” in Idaho this month, mostly to little affair. However, on June 21, he live-streamed from his property to tell his followers that “the only result is to fight it out on the street”. Notably, Bundy has been using his followers to hide from a court summons for months now and seems disinterested in fighting anyone.

Further Reading:

  • For Non-Profit Quarterly, Iris M. Crawford discusses how local militia groups instrumentalize gaps left by imperfect federal disaster response
  • For RawStory, Robert Reich offers a comment on how the contemporary Republican Party has embraced fascism
  • For Salon, Chauncey DeVega argues for Americans to remain vigilant for the next season of MAGA activity, especially those seeking to commit violence by force of arms
  • For UnHerd, Samuel McIlhagga writes on the peculiar situation in Shasta County, California