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The anti-government militia group Oath Keepers on Monday threatened law enforcement officers, calling on the police to stop protecting the public from the people attending protests against social distancing and stay-at-home orders in the midst of a global pandemic.

"Police in the U.S. need to realize they stand at the precipice of losing the trust, support, and protection of millions of American patriots. They must reverse course and refuse unlawful orders, or risk being declared domestic enemies of the Constitution," the group, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls "one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today," said in a tweet.


The statement was in response to a video that showed police standing between the California state Capitol building in Sacramento and a group of protesters demanding that Gov. Gavin Newsom reopen California's economy.

Donald Trump has encouraged protests against stay-at-home orders. With an eye on the 2020 election, he has pushed for states to reopen, fearing a poor economy will imperil his reelection chances.

The protests against stay-at-home orders in multiple states nationwide have been attended by right-wing militias and white supremacist groups. The Washington Post noted: "These groups see the coronavirus crisis as a vehicle to spread their beliefs, said Devin Burghart, president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, a nonprofit group that monitors far-right activity and has been tallying the protests."

The Anti-Defamation League warns, "While many of the protests calling for the reopening of the economy and the lifting of state-issued quarantine mandates have been organized by more mainstream conservative organizations, a number have been sponsored in whole or part by identified extremists and a range of rally participants have carried signs or flags affiliated with various right-wing extremist ideologies."

The Oath Keepers were reported to be involved in a rally in Olympia, Washington, on April 19.

Multiple polls show the vast majority Americans support social distancing measures and want them to continue as long as public health experts say they're necessary.

This isn't the first time the Oath Keepers have put their presence and their extremist views in the spotlight in support of Trump policies.

In June 2019, the Oath Keepers openly supported the construction of Trump's promised border wall between the United States and Mexico.

And in 2016, when Trump said there would be rampant voter fraud in the presidential election, the Oath Keepers called on members to "help prevent criminal vote fraud and attempted criminal voter intimidation on election day."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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