Monthly: Apr 24

Howdy, MW reader! Hope your May is off to a great start. Here’s a Monthly roundup for April 2024, including stories on the following:

  • J6 militia updates, from arrests to returns to activism
  • Updates on the Virginia Kekoas member
  • News roundup of some more local militia efforts using legal/representative approaches to get their goals met

And here’s last month’s update in case you’d like to check on March:

J6 militia updates

mostly III% but also school boards-related… yay

On April 19, feds took four III% adherents into custody to serve 21-33 month-long sentences for their actions in the January 6 Capitol storming following a decision by a judge. The four men from southern California coordinated using a Telegram chat called “The California Patriots — DC Brigade”. Ronald Mele, who received the longest term, gave other network members a “Capitol Action Badge” following the riot. Another co-defendant within their network, Alan Hostetter, received over 11 years of jail time. Hostetter is a former police chief.

J6 defendant Thomas Hamner interrupted a Colorado school board meeting to accuse the superintendent and attorney for the district of failing the district’s students. Hamner, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his J6 involvement, joined the Falcon School District 49 meeting to accuse district leadership of losing track of the Constitution, shouting “Those who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants”, a quote by Christian supremacist favorite William Penn. The district has been a hotbed of right-wing disturbance by “militia types” (framing offered by District 49 Communications Director David Nancarrow), encouraged by former district board member Ivy Liu (who once quoted Hitler on social media). Other such speakers have included United American Defense Force founder Tig Tiegan in April 2023.

Kekoas Update

Spoiler alert: he probably wasn’t a fed

On April 1, the Virginia Kekoas announced through documentarian Ford Fischer that they had kicked out Russell “Duke” Vane from their group. They argue that he may have been involved in attempting to entrap them for violent conspiracy after nearly two years of organizing with them.

Vane attended the Kekoas’ 2024 VCDL Lobby Day mobilization and also joined Mike Dunn and his cohort for an August 2023 armed protest outside the Thomas Walker Education Center.

On April 4, someone posted a fake obituary about Vane, which was removed shortly after. 

The FBI raided Vane’s home on April 10, largely based on evidence the Kekoas leadership posted online, where they found materials seemingly intended to create ricin, a poison. 

At the end of April, a judge ordered that Vane must remain jailed pending trial.   

Continuing Local Weirdness

Counties continue pushing militia/deputization, activist attempts to change federal law, and VOP continues their PNW campaign

In New York, Republican Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakemen posted a notice saying he would deputize a county auxiliary police force, calling for residents to apply to be a “provisional special deputy sheriff”. This force, like many paramilitary organizations of the past, has been interpreted as establishing a militia under the county’s control. This is a common trend for many county governments, such as Pike County in Illinois as covered in the previous MW Monthly. However, in Nassau, the mobilization against this decision has been large and decisive. A petition against the militia passed 2,000 signatures from locals and activists rallied in Mineola on April 8 against the policy. 

On April 22, Jake DeWilde, a militia member from Montana, filed a follow-up case arguing that he should legally be allowed to build his own M16, which he argued in a previous unsuccessful filing was intended for “militia functions” among other uses. 

The Arizona-based Patriot movement group known as Veterans on Patrol (VOP) has continued its “operations” in Spokane, Washington this month. On February 28, the group’s leader, Michael Meyer, rambled at a meeting for the Washtucna City Council, interrupting a routine meeting of the council to talk about his group and data he collected.  The VOP usually primarily operates in the vicinity of Sasabe, Arizona, where they harass migrants and charity workers alike.

Further reading:

  • Shannon Miller writes for the Las Vegas Weekly on the “rabbit hole” online for militia-related extremism before, during, and since COVID-19
  • Tess Owens writes for WIRED on militias continued use of Facebook, partnering with the Tech Transparency Project to identify such pages