Portland GOP Chair Wants To Hire Anti-Government Militias For Security

The Guardian reported on Monday that James Buchal, the top GOP official in Portland, Oregon, said that local Republicans are considering hiring anti-government groups like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters to provide them with security. His comments came as attention was focused on the city after three men were stabbed, two fatally, when they stepped in to protect two women on a commuter train from harassment by a white nationalist. Buchal said such a move was necessary because “there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis.”

Officially, the Oath Keepers are a network of military and law enforcement officials and veterans who have pledged to protect Americans by upholding the Constitution. But in reality, the Oath Keepers and founder Stewart Rhodes spent the Obama years promoting inflammatory anti-government conspiracy theories, including the idea that Obama wanted to unleash a “race war” and would try to stay in office by invoking “emergency powers,” and warning of civil war against a tyrannical government.  In 2015 Rhodes told a gathering of conservative activists in Arizona that Sen. John McCain should be tried for treason and “hung by the neck until dead.”

Last year, the Oath Keepers suggested that members conduct covert “intelligence-gathering” at polling places on Election Day. After Trump’s election, the group urged members to come to Washington for the inauguration weekend to help the police keep watch on “violent leftists.”

The Three Percenters, named for a theory that only three percent of the population actively supported the American Revolution, have a similar record of militant anti-government rhetoric. Group leader Mike Vanderboegh, who died last year, told supporters in 2010 to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic offices to protest the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Vanderboegh rallied with the militia members who gathered at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in 2014, warning of civil war. In 2015, he warned Oregon lawmakers that a background check law would be met with “armed civil disobedience.”

In 2013, when right-wing activist Larry Klayman held a rally that he hoped would force Obama from office, a former Marine identified as a Three Percenter said that the group’s supporters in Virginia were “getting ready to mobilize if anything comes down.”