Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
Oath Keepers militia leader Stewart Rhodes said members of his militia will be at polling locations on Election Day to "protect" Trump voters during an appearance on far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' program.
After making that claim, Rhodes made a number of unhinged statements, including saying Oath Keepers would follow directives from President Donald Trump to take members of the "deep state" into custody and "do what we have to do," that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act before the election, that Oath Keepers will "be in range" of Washington D.C., to stop a "Benghazi-style" attack on the White House on election night, and that a war will have to be fought against Democrats on the West Coast who are "bought" by the Chinese government. Rhodes also hyped the possibility of a second civil war where his "battle-hardened" supporters kill the "street soldiers" and "command and control" of "the radical left." He later claimed the United States is already in a civil war because "you have sitting politicians who are part of the enemy's ranks."
Disturbingly, Rhodes telegraphed how he will interpret election results, saying that he would consider a win by Democratic nominee Joe Biden illegitimate and evidence the election had been stolen, presaging how he and his militia might react to that outcome.
Rhodes' Oath Keepers militia, which is comprised of "former law enforcement officials and military veterans," is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today." The Los Angeles Times reported Rhodes has indicated that some Oath Keepers "have signed up as poll watchers, while others plan to monitor the election armed and 'undercover,' drawing their weapons if needed."
During an October 27 appearance on The Alex Jones Show, Rhodes said members of his militia are going to "stand up and protect people on Election Day" at the polls because opponents of Trump will be supposedly "coercing and threatening" his supporters as part of an effort by Democrats to steal the election.
He went on to make a number of statements filled with violent rhetoric against the left:
- Discussing the "coming civil war," Rhodes said Trump should "declassify all the secrets" to expose the "deep state" and that then his group will "go and put it to them, and take them into custody and do what we have to do."
- Rhodes said Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act before the election, when "he was the clear, undisputed president of the United States," in order to stay in power.
- Rhodes said his group is "concerned about a Benghazi-style attack" on election night against the White House and that some of his "best men" will be "posted outside of D.C." and "within range." He said he does not trust the military because a "stand down order" could be issued that allows the attack to happen. Rhodes said such an attack could result in "the antifa flag or communist flag flying over the White House."
- Jones then raised the prospect of up to 20,000 antifa supporters storming the White House on the night of the election and predicted that would cause the Secret Service to "run out of bullets." Rhodes said "that's what we're concerned about," claiming the people who would plan an attack on the White House "have a lot of jihadists who are well-trained and experienced in warfare."
- Rhodes said that "bought" Democrats and "leftists" on the West Coast are participants in a proxy war being waged by China against the U.S., saying, "That's who we are fighting right now on the streets." (Rhodes and other Oath Keeper supporters have showed up at protests against police brutality carrying weapons.) Rhodes then said, "You got to defeat them in warfare, and then you got to figure out, it's kind of like with the Founding Fathers dealing with the loyalists, what do you do with these people?"
- After Jones asked him about "military rules of engagement," Rhodes predicted a possible civil war between the right and left and said that "our side will not just go and fight their street soldiers; we will go for their command and control also" because "that's a smart thing to do in warfare. That's what's going to happen."
- Rhodes then said, "We've had recent discussions with guys that are special warfare veterans and also current serving. They're paying very much attention to what's going on and quite a few of them are waking up. And so it's not going to be an easy fight for the radical left. They're going to get swamped with very competent, battle-hardened veterans on our side."
- Rhodes declared that there is already a civil war in the U.S., "because you have sitting politicians who are part of the enemy's ranks," adding that "we have 14 million veterans, I believe, at least, a massive pool of combat veterans who are awake and aware."
Ahead of Election Day, there is mounting concern that firearms will be brought to voting locations and used to intimidate voters. On October 27, a Republican-appointed Michigan judge struck down a directive that prohibited firearms from being openly carried at polling sites in that state after several pro-gun groups filed a lawsuit. Just six states and Washington, D.C., have total bans of firearms at voting locations.
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