The names of hundreds of police officers, elected officials and the military appear in a leaked list of members of a far-right group accused of playing a key role in the January 6, 2021 uprising on Capitol Hill in Washington, according to a report. Wednesday.
The Jewish organization Anti-Defamation League (ADL, for its abbreviation in English) centers on extremism, studied more than 38,000 names in the list of members of the oath-takers (literally, “swearers”) and 370 Identified more than one person. Those who he believes work in law enforcement agencies — including police chiefs and commissioners — and in more than 100 active duty military personnel.
It also identified some 80 people who were candidates or public officials in early August. The information was compiled into a database published by the Distributed Denial of Secrets, an organization that promotes transparency.
These disturbing data reveal the presence of extremists in the ranks of the police and armed forces, who have been accused of enforcing laws and protecting the country. It is highly problematic that government officials engage with extremists at a time when threats of violence against legislators and institutions are about to fuel the 2020 election.
“Even for those who claim to have left the organization after using more aggressive tactics in 2014, it is important to remember that the oath-takers have been extremists since their inception, who did not prevent individuals from joining,” warns. report good.
The fact of being present in the database does not prove that a person has been an active member of the group or that they accept its ideology. Some of the people on the list contacted by The Associated Press said they were members a few years ago and are no longer affiliated with the group. Others say they were never full members.
“His situation is too extreme for me,” said Sean Mobley, a sheriff from Otero County, Colorado. Mobley told the Associated Press in an email that he attended Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, several years ago with the sworn-in because of his involvement in a standoff with the federal government.
The Oath Keepers, founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, is a loosely organized, conspiracy theory-fueled group that recruits active and retired military, police and first responders. Its members must take an oath to defend the Constitution “against all enemies foreign and domestic”. It promotes the belief that the federal government is bent on taking away citizens’ civil liberties and says its members are fighting “tyranny”.
About 20 people associated with the Oath Keepers, Rhodes, are alleged to have been involved in the January 6 attack. Rhodes and four other members or supporters of the group will stand trial on charges of seditious conspiracy to plot to keep then-President Donald Trump in power. Rhodes and the other members of the Oath Keepers claim to be innocent and had no plans to attack the Capitol.
Oath Keepers grew rapidly as part of the broader anti-government movement and used online tools to spread their message during Barack Obama’s presidency, said Rachel Carroll, acting deputy director of research for the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Rivas, an organization a nonprofit specializing in promoting civil rights, but since January 6 and Rhodes’ arrest, the group has had trouble keeping its members, he said.
This is partly because the Oath Keepers’ association with Rhodes was so strong that the disappearance of the central figure had a major impact, and partly because many people associated with the group wanted to be seen as respected people in their circles. wanted to added.
“The image of being attached to January 6 was too much for many of them,” Rivas said.
One of the elected officials on the members list is State Representative Phil Jensen of South Dakota, who won the primary for re-election in June. Jensen told the Associated Press that he paid his annual dues in 2014, but never received Oath Keepers reading materials, attended meetings, or renewed his membership.
Jensen said he was inspired to join because he “believed in the oath taken to support the U.S. Constitution and to defend it against foreign and domestic enemies.” He declined to say whether he now rejects those taking the oath, saying only that he did not have enough information.
“In 2014 they seemed like a solid conservative group, now I can’t say anything about them,” he said.
The ADL said it had received the names of at least 10 police chiefs and 11 sheriffs. Everyone who responded to the Associated Press said they no longer have any ties to the group.
“I don’t even know what they post. I never get any updates,” said Mike Hollinshead, sheriff of Elmore County, Idaho. “I’m not paying dues or anything.”
Hollinshead, who is a Republican, said that several years ago, when he was campaigning for the sheriff’s seat, voters asked him if he knew of those who were sworn in. He said he wanted to know more about the group and paid the entrance fee on their website, but had no further participation.
Police Chief Benjamin Boecke of Oskalosa, Iowa, recalled that he had received messages from the group years earlier and believes a friend had joined him, but assured that he never paid the fee. And he doesn’t know anything about the group.
Idaloo, Texas, Police Chief Eric Williams said in an email that he is not a member or has had any activity with sworn inmates in more than 10 years. He said the attack on Capitol Hill was “terrible in every way.”
“I pray that this country finds its way to courtesy and peace in dialogue among all,” he said.