Far-right militia takes hold of small island town in Washington: They're 'becoming the new norm'
Tensions are rising in Whidbey Island, Seattle, after residents say a right-wing extremist group is tearing the fabric of the community apart, The Daily Beast reports.
The tension started when the The Washington III Percent militia took control of the local Grange association (a community gathering place) and began rejecting membership applications from anyone not aligned with them. Now, III Percenter flags and bumper stickers have increasingly popped up around town and left-wing rallies.
"They've been trying to do this for quite some time now: Extremists running for office, local elections, you know, county councils, state legislatures, things like that," said Daryl Johnson, a former Homeland Security analyst who runs DT Analytics. "Once it creeps in, if nobody challenges, it becomes the new norm."
The group's founder and president Matt Marshall says his group is neither extremist nor racist, and says local activists' criticism of his organization amounts to a "smear campaign."
According to the Daily Beast's Heath Druzin, the group's "stealthy takeover" of the region "is straight out of the modern, far-right playbook: target local and state elections, boards, and other institutions that often fly under the radar to increase influence."
"Far-right groups are running candidates in rural statehouse seats, school boards, and even library boards across the country, often rallying around panics of the moment, like so-called critical race theory," Druzin writes.
According to the mayor of Langley, Washington, the group won't be around for long.
"I think, ironically, what they're doing is going to backfire on them, because it's actually bringing the rest of the community together in ways we haven't really been together in a while," Mayor Scott Chaplin said.
Read the full report over at The Daily Beast.
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