Monthly: Feb 24

Welcome to March, MW reader! This post is a quick rundown of February 2024 news events related to militia, especially those related to these issues:

  • Eagle Pass mobilizations
  • Virginia militia attempting to harass teachers
  • January 6 arrests and (non-)sentencing

Last month’s update is available here:

Eagle Pass Fiasco

(Minimal updates since last Monthly, but here are the major news items from Feb:)

At the end of January and the start of February, a slew of Patriot Movement-type actors coalesced on the Texas-Mexico border. The convoy to the border came nowhere near their promised attendance of 700,000 participants and has been rife with infighting and paranoia. The media environment around the mobilization has been tense, with powerful people calling for or claiming an impending civil war in what some analysts have described as a “magnet” for the far-right.

As reported by the Texas Observer on February 8, Texas cops arrested two right-wing bloggers after finding “a white powdery substance”, weed, and edibles in their SUV. The bloggers, Celeste April Sparks and Jerry J. Pena-Ahuyon,  were leading United Patriot Party of North Carolina members on a tour of the border during the stop. Jeremy Allred, a UPPNC convoy member, reportedly had multiple guns in his vehicle and admitted to brandishing a rifle around migrants.

The convoys culminated in three separate rallies on February 3: 

  • Eagle Pass, Texas
  • Yuma, Arizona
  • San Ysidro, California. 

The Eagle Pass rally was by far the largest and most televised. It was stuffed to the brim with Americana symbolism and aggressive anti-migrant rhetoric. 

Locals have bravely opposed the invasion of right-wingers, staging several protests against the convoys and in support of migrant communities. Relatedly, a weird local network of Tactical Civics canceled their planned seminar in Vale amid backlash (locals found out where the patriot movement group was planning to meet and blew up their spot, so to speak).

Now, about this being a “magnet” for the right: 

  • On February 5, feds arrested Paul Faye of Tennessee, who was plotting violence at the border. He had allegedly planned as early as October 2022 to join militia members on the border alongside other federal defendants arrested in May 2023. He shared conspiracy theories with an undercover agent and claimed to coordinate militia from several other Southern states, including Georgia, Kentucky, and North Carolina. 
  • On February 1, threats from militia-associated people forced Border Patrol to evacuate certain buildings. 
  • On February 1, Trinity Stark Rowland of Casper, Wyoming attempted to take a cop’s gun, partially for his plan “to go to Texas” to “join the war”. 

York County School Board fiasco

New right-wing board coalition allegedly contacts local militia group, is shocked at policy consequences

On February 12, two York County School Division board members accused Board Chair Lynda Fairman and her right-wing allies of sending a local militia group to threateningly film a school district event on sex education.

This comes after a troubling school board meeting on January 29, where a man wearing a blue shirt emblazoned with the acronym “YCPCM” introducing himself as Gary Porter took the stand. He offered his thoughts on why prayer should remain in school board meetings. Another man, Bob Herget–also wearing a “YCPCM” shirt under his cream-colored blazer–introduced himself as the leader and founder of the “York County Poquoson Community Missions” (formerly York County Poquoson Constitutional Militia). 

At that later February 12 meeting, York County Superintendent Victor Shandor revealed the disturbing detail that Porter FOIA’d the board for the personal details of all school district staff members who voiced their opposition to recent school board policy. The request resulted in an expedited policy change to remove the requirement that podium speakers provide their home addresses before speaking. Caroline Gallaher, speaking to a local outlet, said such actions by paramilitary groups could lead directly to “democratic erosion”.

On February 26, community members packed a York County School Board meeting to share their concerns with “toxic” new right-wing leadership in the wake of this fiasco. Porter, who once worked for Lockheed Martin, apologized in the meeting.

A longer note on the YCPCM and their allies is being fact-checked and will be updated as a resource linked here this week. Many thanks to Goad Gatsby and some confidential sources for tips related to this happening.

J6 Updates

Never-ending story nets a few New stories of note

On February 8 the US Attorney’s Office in DC announced the arrest of Christopher Douglas Finney over alleged actions during the January 6 riot at the US Capitol. Finney wore a skull mask during his entry into the Capitol. He was also in a militia chat using the name “Chris Patriot” as identified from cellphone information gathered from another arrestee. 

On February 8, feds arrested Matthew Stallings, a leader of Virginia-based militia group 7 City Alliance (7CA) for his alleged role in J6. 

On February 8, the Bureau of Prisons determined that former Oath Keepers attorney Kellye Sorelle is competent to stand trial. In the immediate wake of J6, SoRelle taunted her opponents on Twitter, likely providing evidence for use in trials. 

On February 23, a federal judge ruled that James Breheny, a J6 rioter who once led the Oath Keepers chapter in Bergen County, NJ, will face no jail time due to his help in federal prosecution against other rioters.

On February 29, US District Judge Rudolph Contreras sentenced attendee and sheriff’s deputy Ronald Colton McAbee to almost 6 years in prison for his involvement in the riot. During the Capitol storming, McAbee punched police officers while wearing a patch with “SHERIFF” written on it (and also a III% patch).

Other Miscellaneous News

essentially just ‘everything else’

On February 7, the Hawaii Supreme Court struck down a claimed Constitutional right to open carry, describing in the court opinion that such allowances clash with “the spirit of Aloha”.  

On February 15, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office filed terrorism charges against Justin Mohn, the man who killed and beheaded his father before jumping a fence at a National Guard base. 

On February 20, the Wyoming State Senate passed a bill that would allow Wyoming to organize a state militia. 

On February 23, a right-wing PAC hosted members of the Michigan Liberty Militia at a fundraising event.

Further Reading

  • Writing for Political Research Associates, Carolyn Gallaher and Priya Dixit wrote analysis about militias in county governments in Virgina