According to a report from Reuters, as the most divisive political campaign in recent memory draws to a close, armed militia groups are preparing for what they believe to be the possibility of a stolen election on November 8.
Thanks to Donald Trump and his surrogates’ repeated warnings that the election may be “rigged,” at least one paramilitary group, the Oath Keepers, has announced that they’ll be monitoring voting sites for potential fraud.
Militia groups began to dwindle after the 1990s when confrontations between separatist groups and law enforcement inspired the Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building that killed 168 people. But with the launch of Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign and now the conspiracy-laced era of Trump, militias are enjoying a renewed sense of purpose.
In recent years, armed groups have confronted federal authorities in a series of land-use disputes in the western United States. Federal officials fear more clashes could come after seven militants were acquitted on conspiracy charges for occupying a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon.
Chris Hill, a paralegal by day who goes by the code name “bloodagent,” says he’s thinking about plans for a potential “armed march” on D.C. if Clinton wins the election.
“I will be there to render assistance to my fellow countrymen, and prevent them from being disarmed, and I will fight and I will kill and I may die in the process,” said Hill, who founded the “Three Point Security Force” militia several years ago.
“We’ve building up for this, just like the Marines,” Hill said. “We are going to really train harder and try to increase our operational capabilities in the event that this is the day that we hoped would never come.”
Making matters worse, militia members are having their views legitimized by conservative politicians and pundits. Last week on Twitter, former Illinois Representative Joe Walsh declared that if Trump loses, “I’m grabbing my musket. On Sunday during a Trump rally in Vegas, conservative commentator Wayne Root fantasized about Clinton dying in a fiery crash.
“It’s Hillary in a White Ford Bronco,” Root shouted. “She’s got Huma driving and they’re headed for the Mexican border. I have a name for the future TV movie. It’s called ‘Driving Miss Hillary.’ And the ending, if we all get our wish, is like Thelma and Louise!”
“Prior to this campaign season, these ideas were relegated to sort of the political fringe of the American political landscape,” Southern Poverty Law Center researcher Ryan Lenz said. “Now these ideas are legitimized.”
The SPLC, which tracks extremist groups, estimates there were 276 active militias last year — a figure that has grown from 42 in 2008.
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