Reprinted with permission from AlterNet
Members of the Oath Keepers — along with QAnon and the Proud Boys — were among the far-right extremists who, according to the FBI, were involved in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building. The role that the Oath Keepers played in the Capitol insurrection is the focus of a report by PolitiFact's Samantha Putterman, who examines their activities before and during the attack.
"Of approximately 40 people facing conspiracy charges as of early September, 19 were associated with the far-right Oath Keepers militia, according to PolitiFact's review of court files," Putterman explains. "Another 17 were affiliated with the Proud Boys extremist group. As part of PolitiFact's ongoing look at how misinformation fueled the events of January 6, we examined the case files of defendants associated with Oath Keepers and found they tell a story of preparation, communication and structure."
Putterman reports that on November 9, following the 2020 election, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes "called on members to go to Washington, D.C."
Rhodes told them, "We're going to defend the president, the duly elected president, and we call on him to do what needs to be done to save our country. Because if you don't, guys, you're going to be in a bloody, bloody civil war, and a bloody — you can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or fight."
According to Putterman, "Rhodes warned his followers during that November 9 meeting to come prepared to fight Antifa, a left-wing, anti-fascist movement, according to court documents that show he asked some to come fully armed."Court filings show that Kelly Meggs, leader of the Florida Oath Keepers, was also preparing for violent confrontations with Antifa. On December 19, Meggs visited Facebook and wrote, "We will come in behind Antifa and beat the hell out of them."
By December 31, Putterman reports, "Meggs and others had joined an invitation-only encrypted group on the messaging app Signal, court documents show. They titled their group 'DC OP: Jan 6 21.' They participated in online meetings and used that channel as well as other encrypted communications to coordinate their plans. One man pledged in the encrypted chat that he would bring an assault rifle and a backpack full of ammunition if 's--t truly' hit the fan."
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