BiMonthly: Jul/Aug 23

It’s September 2023, which means it’s time for a MilitiaWatch Monthly. This time, however, the Monthly includes two months, July and August 2023. Here are some of the main stories this time:

  • Virginia Boogaloo fiasco in Gloucester
  • Bundy (finally) turns himself in
  • Secret Service caught chatting with Oath Keepers
  • FL State Guard accused of being “militialike”
  • J6 and Whitmer case updates

Given the tardiness of this update and the added timeframe, some stories may be left out or shortened more than usual.

The previous MW Monthly (June) can be read here:

Virginia Boogaloo Illegally Carry, Get Arrested, Get Mad

On July 14, Gloucester County officers arrested four Boogaloo-affiliated men after they showed up armed to a school board meeting on July 11. The members were there as part of a transphobic reaction to a major legal victory for trans rights in the school district. At least one of the arrestees is affiliated with the Virginia Mutual Assistance Group (VMAG), a Boogaloo-influenced militia group started out of rightist reaction in 2020.

A month later, on August 19, Boogaloo adherents from the Virginia Kekoas led by Mike Dunn brought their rifles to hold a press event outside of the same building. This mobilization followed weeks of odd posting on an associated Telegram channel. Press greatly outnumbered armed activists in attendance. Dunn, who joined the Georgia Legion in an attempt to aid Ukraine’s defensive forces, wore a patch often used by Ukrainian forces on the battlefield. A local, who claimed to be a Democrat and a gun owner, confronted Dunn and asked why he needed to bring his rifle to scare people. No one was arrested for the stunt.

Bundy Saga Ends with Arrest, God-Talk

After months of court evasion followed by more months of the “BBQ Standoff” in Idaho, Ammon Bundy surrendered to the state on August 11. Shortly thereafter, he appeared in court to face accusations of defamation against a hospital he claimed was at the center of a child sex trafficking ring. He said he finally attended his arraignment after God instructed him not to flee.

It appears that Bundy has spent the past several months hiding assets and making threats from his home. Lawyers for the hospital used Ammon’s posts throughout the summer to push the judge to take action against him, but Bundy did not show up for the opening arguments of his trial on July 11.

Emails Indicate Communication Between Secret Service and Oath Keepers in 2020

From an investigation by CREW, journalists discovered that the Secret Service had communicated with Stewart Rhodes in September 2020 ahead of a planned Trump visit to Fayetteville, NC. Rhodes then “conferenced in” NC members to the call with Secret Service. Given the timing, it is extremely likely that some of these conference call members may have been the NC Oath Keepers arrested by the FBI/DOJ about 6 months later. The whole investigation is worth reading, here:

Florida State Guard Militia Issue

In mid-July, news broke of internal disagreements over the ideology and structure of the newly formed Florida State Guard. At least 20% of those initially accepted into the program left or were dismissed, some of whom talked to the New York Times to describe a worrying trend towards it appearing like an extremist militia group loyal to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Some vets described “militialike” training within the program, and indeed state militias do have a worrying past.

J6 Updates

There are again tons of updates to trials and arrests related to the January 6, 2021 storming of the US Capitol Building. Here are some key highlights related to militias and other major headlines:

  • High-ranking Proud Boy Joe Biggs gets 17 years
  • Connie Meggs, a Capitol stormer and the wife of a Florida Oath Keeper, says her husband destroyed their family at her sentencing
  • Matthew Krol, leader of the Genesee County Volunteer Militia in Michigan, pleads guilty leader (vol militia group) pleads guilty
  • Tyler Bensch, a Florida-based III% adherent, reached a plea deal with prosecutors
  • Joseph Hicks, a Missouri man who carried a III% flag at J6, was arrested by the feds

Whitmer Plot Updates

The trials in the case of a kidnapping plot targeting Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer are nearly at an end. The final trials began during these past two months as the Null brothers and Eric Molitor (3 of 14 men charged overall) face trial in Antrim County. Previously, 9 of the militia members have been convicted in court in connection to the plot and 2 have been acquitted.

Barry Croft Jr. and Adam Fox, two of those previously convicted, also recently pushed an appeal on their charges, claiming a mistrial. Both were leaders of the group and received sentences of over 15 years.

Other Legal Updates

Tim Teagan, a prominent Michigan Boogaloo activist, pleaded guilty to a firearms charge that could carry a 10-year sentence. He is set to be sentenced to four months.

The state of Maine is pushing a new anti-paramilitary law targeting training sites in the wake of news of a land purchase by two men associated with the neo-Nazi group known as Blood Tribe in the state. Chris Pohlhaus, the group’s Ohio-based leader, claims that the law will do little to stop his plans in the state. Fred Ramey, the land’s co-owner, lives with Pohlhaus and is a former Andrew Yang super PAC founder.

Further Reading:

  • For the SPLC, Creede Newton writes on an illegal “security service” provided by a paramilitary extremist group
  • On the Final Straw podcast, Jessica Pishko discusses the CSPOA
  • For Military Times, Nikki Wentling writes on why there is justifiably more emphasis on right-wing extremism