Monthly: Oct 23

Greetings, MilitiaWatch readers! Hopefully, you had a good spooky season! (Many of those covered in this Monthly update did not.) In broad strokes, this monthly covers:

  • Legal updates for escapees, would-be Thanksgiving attackers, and Nazis
  • Updates related to governance and policing, and overlaps with militia (again)
  • Armed activism a la “2A Rallies” and otherwise at Capitols etc

The previous MW Monthly (covering September 2023) can be read here:

Legal Updates: A follow-up, a guilty plea, and a follow-up

Updated from last month: on October 1, cops recaptured Jonathan Schimdt O’Dell after he and another inmate escaped the Phelps County Federal Prison in Missouri. O’Dell awaits federal trial for his alleged plans to murder migrants and Border Patrol staff in Texas alongside his “2nd Amendment Militia”. He posted calls to violence and planning materials on his TikTok ahead of his original arrest. Since being recaptured, the DOJ indicted him for his role in the escape.

On October 19, Joshua Colston of Mississippi pleaded guilty to a federal firearms charge in the Middle District of Georgia. Colston faces charges related to his participation in planning for an armed attack in fall 2022 as part of the National Constitutional Militia. Colston and others planned the attack on Zello, a walkie-talkie app that announced it was banning militia groups in 2021. Zello was used by one of the Oath Keepers who stormed the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. The firearms charge against Colston is not directly related to his alleged planned violent activity but many Patriot Movement activists often face little accountability beyond such incidental charges

Updated from a previous month: Chris Pohlhaus, the founder of the neo-Nazi group known as Blood Tribe, sold his Maine property on October 20 following pressure from the state of Maine in August. In August, Pohlhaus said that the bill would do little to impede his plan to establish a paramilitary training site on the property. It appears he was incorrect. 

Governance, Policing, and Patriots: Disappointing but unsurprising

In early October, GOP leadership in Ada County, Idaho resigned following the direction of the new Idaho Republican Party under new leadership. Chairwoman Dorothy Moon has outflanked much of the party establishment from the right. She has been a huge public proponent of disgraced Real 3%ers Idaho leader Eric Parker, the “Bundy Sniper” (and a staple of MilitiaWatch reporting throughout the years). Moon has been accused by her partymates of attempting to control election results in the state, too. Idaho has been targeted by rightists nationally and locally, as some fascists have gleefully described the current turmoil as a “real right-wing takeover”. 

In late October, close Oath Keepers associate and Constitutional Sheriff Mike Carpinelli announced his intentions to seek another term in Lewis County, New York. Carpinelli has been highly involved in Patriot Movement activity over the past few years. He was caught with a III% banner on his wall and was at one point in direct contact with Stewart Rhodes asking for the Oath Keepers to join rallies in New York City. The Oath Keepers also awarded him the “New York Oath Keepers’ Constitutional Sheriff Award” in 2016. 

More reporting this month out of Chicago has drawn some claimed action. Drawing on an Oath Keepers membership leak that is now a few years old, the investigative team at the Chicago Sun-Times pointed to 27 Chicago police on the roster, at least nine of whom are still with the department. The Chicago Police Superintendent, upon reading the reporting, has stated that he will move to remove these officers. In January of this year, as reported previously on MilitiaWatch, the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of International Affairs did not recommend discipline against a Chicago cop who was identified as an Oath Keeper. A Proud Boy on the force also returned to service in the same month. 

Armed Activism and More: Steps of the Capitol and little consequence

On October 5, 2nd Amendment activists gathered for their (delayed) annual rally at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing. Over 100 armed activists showed up this year, including several Patriot groups. These groups included the Genesee County Volunteer Militia and the Michigan Liberty Militia (MLM). Several prominent MLM members, namely the Null brothers, were recently found not guilty for their involvement in the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Naturally, they posed for a photo with MLM lead Phil Robinson. Proud Boys and several GOP legislators also attended

On October 14, the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance hosted their own rally on the steps of the Idaho State Capitol in Boise. One of their key speakers was Michael “Garand Thumb” Jones, a well-known guntuber who has heightened his profile in the 2A advocacy space in recent times. A joint study by Memetica and Everytown found that Jones’ YouTube channel was among the most frequently cited in the Buffalo shooter’s Discord diary.

On October 7, the Pennsylvania Sanctuary Church (of the Unification Church founded by Reverend Sun Myung Moon) held its annual Rod of Iron Festival in Greeley, Pike County. The festival, and the host church, have an obsession with a particular interpretation of both Biblical text and the 2nd Amendment (and an extremely specific love for Donald Trump). Sean Moon, the oft-accepted heir to Reverend Moon’s legacy, gave a speech on “Nazi Homosexuals” while holding a gold-plated rifle (and his typical crown of bullets). Pastor Greg Locke, a weirdo pastor from Tennessee known for his bonfires, etc, also spoke. Many prominent GOP figures spoke, and the Proud Boys sold merch.

Further Reading:

  • SPLC writes on CSPOA commitment to coordinating with Southern hate groups
  • In the wake of an odd disappearance, Joe Dana writes for 12 News on LDS overlaps with AZ patriot movement and other controversies
  • Fergus Bordewich writes for Time about the origins of the KKK