Police and soldiers use deadly skills in militia campaigns against the US government
Militiamen from the Three Percenters movement conducted a military exercise in Flovilla, Georgia, in 2016, days after Trump’s election. After his defeat in 2020, it accounted for three percent of the January 6, 2021 uprising in the U.S. Capitol. Mohammed Elshamy / Anadolu Agency / Getty Image Thousands of police officers and soldiers – people professionally trained to deal with violence and familiar with military protocols – are part of extremist efforts to undermine the US government and undermine the democratic process. According to an investigative report released in November in the Atlantic in a leaked database maintained by the Oath Keepers – one of several far-right and white supremacist militias that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 – 10% are the Oath Keepers current police officers or military members. Another important part of the group’s members are retired military and law enforcement officers. The hate group, founded by a former Army paratrooper after Barack Obama’s 2008 election, claimed in 2016, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “an unlikely 30,000 members, allegedly mostly current and former first responders Military, law enforcement and emergency areas ”. The Three Percenters, another militia that was present at the Capitol on January 6, also attract a significant portion of its members from military and civil law enforcement agencies. Larry Brock, a pro-Trump rioter who was arrested with zipper handcuffs, allegedly for taking hostages, is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force who posted content from the Three Percenters online. The militia movement is a militarized stream of the American right. Its members promote an ideology that undermines the authority and legitimacy of the federal government and stores weapons. Having a background in the military or police forces militiamen improves these groups’ ability to conduct sophisticated and successful operations. It also helps them convey a patriotic image that obscures the security threat they pose. A member of the Oath Keepers at a rally to overturn the 2020 election results in the U.S. Supreme Court on January 5, 2021. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images Longstanding Relationships The day before Biden was inaugurated, two National Guardsmen were dispatched to Washington, DC, after an investigation into right-wing militia ties. Far-right elements have always been present in the US security forces. Throughout the 20th century, many local police stations were heavily populated with members of the Ku Klux Klan. The links between terrorist groups and law enforcement agencies made discrimination and violence possible against African Americans, Jews and other minorities. In 1923, all black residents of Blandford, Indiana, were forced out of the city and moved to an undisclosed location after allegedly assaulting a young girl by an African American. The illegal “deportation” was carried out and organized by the local sheriff, a Klansman, with the support of the 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 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 the murder of a black couple in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Two were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders. The Army launched an investigation into what was known as the hub of the National Alliance, the most influential American neo-Nazi group in the country at the time. The army identified and released 19 paratroopers for participating in hate activities. One killed six worshipers in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in August 2012. He died in a police shootout. Growing convergence Concerns about the infiltration of far-right elements into the military and law enforcement have increased over the past decade with the emergence of militias such as the Oath Guards, based on the principle of police and military recruitment. Oath guards undertake not to obey orders at work that they believe are contrary to the constitution. The success of the militias, which secretly infiltrated the police force, contributed to the emergence of new far-right groups that openly recruit law enforcement agencies, such as the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers of America. Founded in 2011 by former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, the group believes, contrary to the Constitution, that federal government agencies should be placed under local law enforcement agencies. It has more than 500 sheriffs nationwide. A little more than half are currently in office. The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers of America have urged their members not to enforce gun laws and pandemic-related mask regulations that they believe violate civil liberties. Seasoned Insurgents When members of far-right groups are also professionals who have vowed to protect the nation or its communities, those groups appear more legitimate. Authorities may be less likely to treat them as a homeland security threat, a categorization that would restrict their access to firearms and sensitive locations. Military and police officers actually make American militias more effective, according to my research on violent practices by the American right. A member of the Texas Militia at the pro-Trump rally in Washington, DC, Jan. 6, 2021. Selcuk Acar / NurPhoto via Getty Images A record that I maintain with my team at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and for my recent book use right The terror shows that militia attacks are more deadly than those of other right-wing extremist groups. The perpetrators have experience with weapons and ammunition and have at least some military training. Attacks by other right-wing extremist groups are largely initiated by people with limited operational experience who act spontaneously. Militias are also more likely to attack secured, high-value targets such as state institutions. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, is a prime example. He was a Gulf War veteran associated with the Michigan Militia, whose 1995 bomb killed 168 people at Alfred P. Murrah’s federal building. The penetration of right-wing extremist fighters into the ranks of the police and military appears to result in an increase in the direct number of attacks on police and military targets. Between 1990 and 2000, 13% of US militia attacks and conspiracies were directed against military or police facilities or personnel, as our dataset shows. The share rose to 40% by 2017. With their training in surveillance, intelligence gathering, and public safety, the dangerous activities of militias are generally harder for federal agencies to monitor and combat. When militias recruit professionals, they can better lead their radical crusade. [Get our most insightful politics and election stories. Sign up for The Conversation’s Politics Weekly.]This article was republished by The Conversation, a non-profit news site dedicated to exchanging ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Arie Perliger, University of Massachusetts Lowell. Read more: The plan to kidnap Michigan’s governor grew out of the militia movement’s toxic mix of constitutional falsehoods and half-truths.