There’s been a marked rise in the formation of extremist militia groups since 2016 — thanks to open support from Donald Trump and other far-right members of the GOP.
Concurrently, the public awareness of groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers has increased, particularly following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, which sparked months of protests nationwide. Far-right militia groups have shown up at such protests, often armed and sometimes in military regalia, in the name of providing security.
And they all had a major presence at the January 6th Capitol insurrection. Four people accused in the January 6th riot, including three Oath Keepers members, have already pleaded guilty to that charge, arguably the most serious charges levied so far in the federal government’s expansive prosecution effort against the perpetrators.
During their televised hearings, the January 6th House Select Committee highlighted the role that militia groups allegedly played in the Capitol attack, and five members of the Oath Keepers, including founder Stewart Rhodes, are currently on trial defending themselves against seditious conspiracy charges. One of those defendants, Jessica Watkins, started her own militia, the Ohio State Regular Militia, in her home state. Despite the visibility of these and other forthcoming punishments, copycat militias are still popping up all over the country.
In New Mexico, a judge has issued an injunction against a local militia following a lawsuit by a county district attorney who described the group as “untrained and armed extremists attempting to unlawfully function as the police or the military,” Law and Crime reports.
"‘Flagrant, Willful, Bad Faith, Callous Disregard’: New Mexico Judge Bars Militia Group from Using ‘Organized Force’ at Protests, Gatherings"
Per ICAP at @GeorgetownLaw, it’s the first US lawsuit by a DA against militias and “paramilitary forces.”
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) October 18, 2022
The ruling comes after Bryce Provance, who claims to be the founder of the “New Mexico Civil Guard” (NMCG), refused to answer questions during a deposition for a lawsuit brought by Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez. Torrez sued the NMCG after members of the group appeared at a 2020 protest in Albuquerque to remove a statue of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate from a public area where someone not affiliated with the group shot a protestor. But Torrez claimed that the NMCG’s presence escalated an already tense situation.
Yesterday, NMCG leader Bryce Provance, a Neo-Nazi, showed up to the home and workplace of a potential witness in the Steven Baca shooting trial. The individual who threatened another witness last Friday claimed to be III%, a white militia the NMCG claims affiliation. pic.twitter.com/JNs0FdIO6j
— Nick Estes (@nickwestes) August 18, 2020
Law and Crime reports that Provance refused to identify himself or answer basic questions, such as confirming his name. The judge also said additional sanctions were warranted because Provance admitted to destroying evidence; according to Torrez, Provance said that he “destroyed all records for the NMCG,” including by pouring bleach on his computer and setting it on fire.
“Provance also brought hand-drawn images to the deposition that were both threatening and indecent,” Torrez said. According to Albuquerque CBS affiliate KRQE, the drawing “included stick figures performing a sex act and a devil presiding over stick figures with the words ‘Georgetown Law.’”
At his deposition last month, New Mexico Civil Guard founder Bryce Provance displayed lewd drawings and said he destroyed documents related to a civil lawsuit. https://t.co/lC8ax1dpsv
— Ruidoso News (@RuidosoNews) April 18, 2022
The judge’s order prohibits the NMCG, as well as its leaders and members, from “organizing and operating in public as part of a military unit independent of New Mexico’s civil authority and without having been activated by the Governor of New Mexico.” It also bars the organization and its members from “assuming law-enforcement functions by using or projecting the ability to use organized force at protests, demonstrations, or public gatherings.”
KOB4: It took barely more than nine minutes for Bryce Provance to abruptly end a March legal deposition that sought to learn more about him and his history with the New Mexico Civil Guard. https://t.co/WZ4uRTORm5
— Georg Thomas (@SupportWFam) April 14, 2022
Suffice it to say that this is not what the Founders had in mind when they ratified the 2nd Amendment!
Read the full report at Law and Crime.
Follow Tara Dublin on Twitter @taradublinrocks.
Tara is a reported opinion columnist at Occupy Democrats. She's a woefully underappreciated and unrepresented writer currently shopping for a super cool novel that has nothing to do with politics while also fighting fascism on a daily. Follow her on Twitter @taradublinrocks