Militia members associated with the Three Percenters movement conducting a military drill in Flovilla, Ga., 2016, days after Trump’s election. After his defeat in 2020, three percent were involved in the uprising on January 6, 2021 at the US Capitol. Mohammed Elshamy / Anadolu Agency / Getty Image Thousands of police and soldiers – professionally trained in the use of force and familiar with military protocols – are part of an extremist attempt to undermine the US government and undermine the democratic process. According to an investigation report released in the Atlantic in November to a leaked database kept by Oath Keepers – one of several right-wing extremist and white supremacist militias that stormed the US capital on January 6 – 10% of Oath Keepers are current police or military members. Another significant part of the group’s membership is retired military and law enforcement personnel. The hate group – founded by a former paratrooper after the Army following Barack Obama’s 2008 election – claimed “an unlikely 30,000 members who are said to be mostly current and former military, law enforcement and emergency recipients” in 2016, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Three Percenters, another militia that was present at the Capitol on January 6, also draws a significant portion of its members from law enforcement, both military and civilian. Larry Brock, a pro-Trump rioter arrested with handcuffs with a zipper, is alleged to have taken hostage, is a retired lieutenant colonel in the air force who published content from the three percent online. The militia movement is a militarized stream of the American far right. Members promote an ideology that undermines the authority and legitimacy of the federal government and stores weapons. When militia members have a professional background with the military or the police, it increases the ability of these groups to carry out sophisticated and successful operations. It also helps them convey a patriotic image that hides the security threat they present. A member of the Oath Keepers at a meeting to overturn the 2020 election results at the US Supreme Court on January 5, 2021. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images Long-running ties The day before the Biden inauguration, at late afternoon, 12 National Guardsmen deployed to Washington, DC removed from that duty following an investigative problem in their past; two had obvious ties to right-wing militias. Right-wing extremist elements have always had a certain presence in US security forces. Throughout the 20th century, many local police departments were heavily populated with Ku Klux Klan members. The links between terrorist groups and law enforcement enabled discrimination and violence against African Americans, Jews and other minorities. In 1923, all black residents of Blandford, Indiana were forced out of the city to an unknown location after allegations that an African-American man attacked a young girl. The illegal “deportation” was carried out and organized by the local sheriff, a Klansman, with the help of local Klan chapters. Wade Michael Page, the US Army veteran who killed six Sikh worshipers in 2014. FBI via Getty Images Many US military bases have also had cells from neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups throughout the 20th century. In 1995, three paratroopers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were arrested and charged with killing a black couple in Fayetteville. Two were sentenced to life in prison for the murders. The Army launched an investigation at the base, which was known to be a hub of the National Alliance, then the country’s most influential American neo – Nazi group. The army identified and released 19 paratroopers for participating in hate activities. One continued to kill six worshipers in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in August 2012. He died in a police shooting. Growing convergence Concerns that right-wing extremist elements are entering the military and law enforcement has become acute in the last decade with the emergence of militias such as the Oath Keepers, which were based on the principle of recruiting police and military. The Oath Keepers promise not to obey orders at work that they believe are unconstitutional. The militia’s success in secretly infiltrating police departments contributed to the emergence of new right-wing extremist associations that openly recruit law enforcement, such as the constitutional sheriffs and peace officers in America. The group was founded in 2011 by former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack and promotes the idea – contrary to the Constitution – that federal authorities should be subordinated to local law enforcement. It has more than 500 sheriffs nationwide. Just over half are currently on duty. The constitutional sheriffs and peace officers of the United States have urged their members not to enforce gun control laws and pandemic-related mask provisions that they believe violate civil liberties. Competent insurgents When members of right-wing extremist groups are also professionals who have sworn to protect the nation or their communities, it makes these groups seem more legitimate. Authorities may be less likely to treat them as domestic security threats, a categorization that would limit their access to firearms and sensitive sites. Yet military and police members actually make American militias more effective, according to my research on the violent methods of the American right-wing extremists. A Texas Militia Member at the Trump Summit in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. Selcuk Acar / NurPhoto via Getty Images that militia attacks are more deadly than other right-wing extremist groups. The perpetrators are experienced with weapons and ammunition and have at least some military training. Attacks from other right-wing extremist groups are largely initiated by people with limited operational experience who act spontaneously. Militias are also more likely to attack safe, high-profile targets such as government facilities. Timothy McVeigh, the bomber in Oklahoma City, is an excellent example. He was a Gulf War veteran of the Michigan militia whose bomb killed 168 people at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995. The right-wing militants’ penetration into the police and military appears to be driving an increase in direct attacks on police and military targets. Between 1990 and 2000, 13% of U.S. militia attacks and plots were targeted at military or police installations or personnel, our data shows. The proportion jumped to 40% in 2017. And with their training in surveillance, intelligence and public safety, militants’ dangerous activities are generally more difficult for federal authorities to monitor and counter. When militias recruit professionals, they are better at conducting their radical crusade. This story was updated to reflect the development of security news at Biden’s inauguration and was corrected to find Fayetteville, North Carolina. It was written by: Arie Perliger, University of Massachusetts Lowell. Read more: Plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor grew up from militia movement’s toxic mix of constitutional falsehoods and half-truths Militia evaluates beliefs, action as president threatens soldiers on the streets Ministry of Defense.
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