As we countdown to the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden, we are all acutely aware of the calls for violence from fringe radical elements of the far right. The FBI, DOD, and other security experts say that violence could be attempted in all 50 states, mostly around State Capitals but people should be leery wherever they are. Here in New Mexico we’ve already had violence perpetrated on anti-racist protestors during the shooting in Albuquerque last summer, so we’re very aware of the potential for violence in our own state, unfortunately.
(And before we go any further it must be said that:)
- We STRONGLY condemn the Republican Party of New Mexico for continuing to perpetuate the lies and proven falsehoods that have incited and perpetuated the violent attempted coup at the Capitol on January 6th. While many of the radical insurrectionists appear to be leaving the GOP and claiming they haven’t gone far enough, we know the Republican leadership of Steve Pearce and Couy Griffin have egged on more moderate conservatives into the violent militias and cults we see today.
Violence against women and people with uteruses from both the state and anti-choice terrorists has been happening FOR YEARS. The stats are wild: In the 40 years that the National Abortion Federation has been documenting violence against abortion providers, there have been 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 189 arsons, and thousands of incidents of criminal activity directed at abortion providers across the country. Peep this story about abortion providers and their reaction to the attack on the Capitol on January 6th.
National Militias: Oath Keepers, III%, Proud Boys, Boogaloo Boys
After Barack Obama was elected and inaugurated in 2009, longstanding radicals from the Patriot Movement (the movement Timothy McVeigh was notorious for being a part of) organized their smaller disparate regional movement ties into national organizations with shared goals and imagery. The two prominent group from that time period still active today are Oath Keepers and III%.
In the lead up to Trump’s election, a new group of younger white nationalists started forming as a “real life” response to the internet image board and gaming culture “anti-political correctness” movement that they saw Trump as leader of. The most visible group from this class of anti-government, white nationalists are the Proud Boys, with some other affiliated groups who notably marched in Charlottesville in 2017. Last year, a new group with less clear objectives but still mostly allied to internet culture and anti-government ideals, the Boogaloo Boys used demonstrations across the country last summer to start attacking law enforcement agencies on the west coast.
Oath Keepers: The Oath Keepers are a loose coalition of state militias banded together around the shared principle of being current or former members of the military, law enforcement, or any other organization that “swore the oath” to uphold the Constitution. They were founded by noted white supremacist and Patriot Movement veteran Stewart Rhodes in 2009 and perpetuate the myth that the government has been infiltrated by (various bad actors) and that they, therefore, must defend their oath even in the face of government. They ascribe to the “10 orders we will not obey” which is where the 10 imagery on some of their patches comes from.
There are numerous Oath Keeper groups in New Mexico, both stand-alone OK units as well as OK members who are members of other groups like III%, NM Civil Guard, and border militias.
The “10 orders” are:
- We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.
- We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people .
- We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.
- We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.
- We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
- We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
- We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
- We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on US soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control.”
- We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
- We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.
III%: This militia is based on a historical myth that only three percent of Americans actively fought the British during the American Revolution, the connotation being that they, in their small numbers, can institute such a radical change. Their founder, Michael Vanderbough, came from the Patriot Movement in Alabama and he also was closely associated with the Minute Man militias along the southern border during the 2000’s.
The III% logo can vary between the usual roman numerals to also be 3%, 3P, Threeper, or just the numerals without the percentage sign, III. Broadly speaking III% are often also veterans but not necessarily, but their main goals are “preserving and protecting” the Second Amendment, more so even than the whole of the Constitution, it would seem.
Proud Boys: The Proud Boys were formed in 2016 by Gavin McInnes under the banner of “Western Chauvinism” which they claim is different from White Nationalism. Their current leader, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, is of Afro-Cuban descent and there are many Proud Boys who don’t identify with being white. However, their ethos is rooted in pan-european values and philosophy, is extremely white supremacist in practice, as well as misogynist and ableist.
Besides the recognizable black and yellow-clad Proud Boys often depicted in the media, there are at least two avowed white nationalist militant “wings” of the Proud Boys as well, American Guard and Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights.
Meme militias/ Boogaloo Boys: While the Boogaloo Boys have made a name for themselves with their ostentatious Hawaiian shirts and igloo flags, their not necessarily a formal group with a hierarchy or organization so much as a loosely based group of young men and boys who are more broadly anti-authoritarian and anti-government than they are explicitly racist. During the anti-racist riots last summer in response to continued police killings of unarmed Black men, these meme-based militants started showing up at BLM protests “in support” but often looking for excuses to cause mayhem. One cell of self-professed Boogaloo Boys worked across multiple states to set fire to police stations in Oregon while other members assassinated a courthouse security guard in California and got into a shootout with LA County Sheriffs, resulting in at least one more officer’s death.
New Mexico Militias
New Mexico has some of its own “homegrown” militias, although many of the members appear to share membership across one or more of the national groups as well. Last year, a group calling itself the New Mexico Civil Guard received much of the press after one of their members shot an anti-racist protestor in Albuquerque, but it’s worth noting and seeing that many of their own pictures depict them wearing OK and III% regalia. For further analysis of the NM Civil Guard specifically, we invite you to check out this thread on Twitter.
Cowboys For Trump: While Otero County Commissioner and Cowboys for Trump (C4T) leader Couy Griffin claims his organization is not a militia, his rhetoric and the rhetoric of his followers is directly in line with other groups on this list. Just this week Griffin said he was going back to DC “with his guns” garnering national media attention once again. They have ridden their horses bedecked with Confederate Flags, Thin Blue Lives flags, and other KNOWN hate symbols across towns and cities in the US. They are often seen riding armed, and Griffin routinely espouses armed conflict as the “only” way his point of view will come to pass in defense of Trumpism. We absolutely label and consider C4T to be an armed radical militia operating in New Mexico.
New Mexico Civil Guard: This localized militia appears to have been an out-cropping of the anti-governmental fringe that were calling for New Mexico to “open up” last year as COVID restrictions were put in place. While many people might have heard of them first after the Albuquerque protest shooting, NM Civil Guard members were openly communicating and recruiting last spring, training together, and posting pictures of themselves. Those pictures show members sporting various III% and Oath Keeper regalia as well as NM specific patches. Additionally, some of their members appear to also be Proud Boys, or at least Proud Boys are/ have interacted with NMCG. While their online chatter dwindled after the shooting, members of NMCG were spotted harassing BLM activists in August and then retreating to a downtown sandwich shop that eventually closed down due to their support of this militia group.
Border Militias: The border between New Mexico and Mexico has actually been one of the places where visible militia activity has been going on the longest in the state. While a lot of the national media focused on Minutemen units in Arizona and California during the mid-00’s, New Mexico had its fair share and has continued to host extremists up through early 2020 at least. Famously GOP Senate candidate Gavin Clarkson met with Larry Hopkins, founder of the United Constitutional Patriots, and his second in command, Jim Benvie. Benvie was also present this August at the aforementioned sandwich shop incident.
So, that’s a lot, we know. And there are myriad more bad actors out there with their own patches or flags. We haven’t hit at all on the “Qanon” set or other generic Trump supporters who were mixed in with the invading crowd of January 6th, partially because we’re still learning about them ourselves. It’s worth reiterating that the New Mexico Republican Party has DOUBLED DOWN in their support of these armed insurrections so unfortunately, it’s hard to even trust someone wearing a MAGA hat or wearing a GOP T-shirt these days. We want to remind people that because of COVID AND the risk of violence from whatever combination of these anti-governmental forces may come out in the next few days, please stay safe. Stay home if you can. We’ll do our best to help distribute information as we can. Stay tuned.