Greetings, MilitiaWatch reader! This month, given that it is indeed the final month of 2023, is a special MW Monthly. Specifically, it is not a MW Monthly but a review of the last year of Monthly posts. Below, you’ll find a repeat of the most important stories that crossed multiple months this year and a “most important story of the month” for each month of 2023. All stories will link back to the MW Monthly in context if you want to read more.
This is MW signing off for 2023, see you in 2024 (happy new year, btw).
First of all, the stories that cross many months can be broken down into three major headers:
- Militia Leaders vs the Law
- Legal Cases
- (Lazy grouping here but) Everything Else
See below for a paragraph on a couple of stories within each.
Militia Leaders vs the Law
Slate Ridge Fiasco in Vermont: In West Pawlet, VT, locals have been in a legal struggle against the owner of a militia training ground known as Slate Ridge. The owner, Daniel Banyai, failed to comply with court and council orders on multiple occasions. Police refused to serve arrest warrants against him. Most recently, Banyai faced a deadline to turn himself in to Vermont Corrections by December 22. As far as MW knows, Banyai did not meet this deadline. Banyai has two felony charges in New York and is prohibited from carrying firearms (but the ATF has also said Banyai falsely claims to be a federal agent and carries a handgun despite his prohibition). A judge granted his neighbor a protective order against Banyai after he posted threatening the neighbor on the Slate Ridge Facebook page. [For more info, check out VTDigger’s continuing coverage]
Ammon Bundy Launches #BBQStandoff: From his home in Emmett, Idaho, Ammon Bundy this year sought to evade legal accountability by declaring a standoff at his home in April. He invited his followers to join him and consume beef to resist attempts to serve an arrest warrant. The police didn’t even truly try, so it wasn’t much of a standoff. His warrant, you might recall, was about the case he lost against a hospital he defamed and whose services he and his followers disrupted. Since then, it appears that Bundy has left his home and is on the run from the authorities. [For more info, check out this hashtag for indexed posts]
Legal Cases Continued
Major J6 Convictions: This year, the proverbial shoe dropped on many of the most important organizers of the 2021 riot at the US Capitol Building. Juries found many leaders, like Stewart Rhodes and Enrique Tarrio, guilty of charges such as seditious conspiracy. Judges sentenced some of these actors to many years behind bars (18 years and 22 years, respectively). In October, the DOJ reported that in the 30 months since the riot, 160 pleaded guilty to felony charges and another 434 pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges. Many cases continue, but the breadth of the charges against participants is pretty unprecedented. [Explore NPR’s resource on all J6 cases for more insight]
Wolverine Watchmen Cases Conclude: This year, the proverbial shoe meanders on participants in the alleged 2020 Michigan Governor Whitmer kidnapping plot. In September, the final three members of the case against those connected to the plot received a universal acquittal. 9 other participants all received guilty verdicts and a variance of sentences. State Representative Rachelle Smit awarded two of the final three men, members of the Michigan Liberty Militia (a staple of 2A gatherings and more), with an official state proclamation honoring them for their ‘patriotism’. [For more information, read this Detroit Free Press roundup of the trial outcomes and verdicts]
Everything Else (imagine a snappier, better title here)
Boogaloo Revival Fiasco in Virginia: In July, four Boogaloo adherents carried weapons to a meeting on school property to advocate against a recent and major victory for transgender student rights at the Gloucester County School Board. Police arrested the men, but only after some time had passed and for a semi-related charge. In August, more adherents, including returned Ukraine war volunteer and media darling Mike Dunn, protested on school grounds with rifles. Police let them. [Goad Gatsby’s reporting on this fiasco is worth reading if you want more]
Maine Locals Fight against Neo-Nazis, Win: In early 2023, Neo-Nazi leader Chris Pohlhaus (who runs the group known as Blood Tribe) started buying land in rural Maine to create a training ground for fascists after moving there in late 2022. This was deeply unpopular with locals. In August, legislators in Maine pushed a bill to ban militia training grounds. Blood Tribe leader Chris Pohlhaus claimed it would do little to halt his plans to build the site. In October, he conceded and sold the property, abandoning his plans in Maine.
January: VCDL Lobby Day sees Boogaloo adherents show up again, hoping to resuscitate their movement (it didn’t) [link]
February: Feds arrest Boogaloo adherent for explosive material in his home [link]
March: Virginia county militia not universally accepted by residents, becomes subject of debate in local paper [link]
April: Ammon Bundy starts his #bbqstandoff, offering “Bundy Beef” [link]
May: Oath Keepers, including Stewart Rhodes, sentenced for J6 actions [link]
June: Feds foil border militia plot, paramilitary activity on the border continues [link]
July: Boogaloo in Virginia get arrested over appearance at school board meeting [link]
August: Virginia Boogaloo stage media show over July arrests [link]
- Also, Bundy’s #bbqstandoff ends [link]
September: Police fail to serve 60-day arrest warrant on paramilitary training site owner in Vermont [link]
October: GunTuber joins Second Amendment rally in Idaho as keynote speaker [link]
November: Michigan representative honors militia members for their non-guilty verdict in the Whitmer kidnapping case [link]
December: No MW Monthly, but VT militia training site owner Banyai faces arrest for noncompliance (again)
Thanks for reading and we hope your 2023 ends sweetly.