Far-Right Militia Groups May Serve as Security at GOP Events Near Portland, Oregon
Far-right militia groups may soon provide legitimate private security at events in the Oregon county that is home to Portland.
According to reporting from Willamette Week, the Multnomah County Republican Party approved a resolution this week to use volunteers from the Oath Keepers and the Oregon Three Percenters to provide security from anti-fascist protesters given that the militia members are certified by the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.
The Oath Keepers is an anti-government organization primarily made up of former and current law enforcement officials and military veterans. Both the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters are anti-government groups classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as extremist organizations.
The idea for the resolution originated with party chairman James Buchal, who told the Guardian last month that the GOP could use the right-wing militia groups as security guards. In a June 19 fundraising letter for the GOP, Buchal asks Republicans to donate to the local chapter to stymie “threats of Leftist violence.” He adds that the GOP has been losing money because of purported violence from the left.
In the letter, Buchal invokes a popular far-right talking point that freedom of speech is under threat from those on the left.
"Republicans have been losing the culture wars for a long time, but violent attacks against freedom of speech and assembly by Republicans may mark the last battle in the culture wars," Buchal said in the letter. "The rise of a totalitarian Leftist culture that rejects the First Amendment and permits no disagreement on fundamental political disputes threatens the end of American ideals. Their propaganda is simple, evil and wrong: they call any and all patriotism a form of bigotry."
Ironically, the idea to have far-right militias provide private security emerged in the wake of a hate-crime stabbing on a Portland, Oregon public transit MAX train, when two men defended a Muslim girl from a white supremacist. Militia members were present at a June 4 rally after the incident, with one volunteer even helping a federal police officer detain and arrest a protester.
While Buchal and the county GOP continue barking about so-called leftist violence, the country is suffering from a real wave of hate crimes committed by white supremacists against people of color and Muslims. Research from the SPLC also reveals that the number of hate groups—and anti-Muslim hate groups in particular—has been increasing, with a total of 917 hate groups in 2016.