The New York Times recently wrote a piece about some militiamen from the Georgia Security Force III%, with some great photos from a short training session. It’s very dismissive of the militia and has been received by militiamen as one would expect. Read it here.
The Georgia Security Force III% is Georgia’s state chapter of the III% militia and the central division of the III% Security Force, which has established chapters in 25 states. Georgia’s chapter has the largest online presence and a very large role in overall policy of the organization.
This piece is a look at III% symbology and ideology, organization of the militia, and the sentiment of militiamembers towards November 8 and 9.
Above, I included the III% national logo as well as the state logo for GA. There is an impressive level of uniformity among these logos, as many state chapters have adopted a similar logo.
Above is a diagrammed III% logo, this one from my home state of South Carolina. The primary color of the logo, a dark olive green, is not exclusively a military color, but finds its home in a number of camouflages.
The specific battalion of the III% militias is printed at the top of the logo, wrapped around the inside of the circle. This name is always the name of the state followed by “Security Force”, and always printed in black to match the rest of the emblem. Since the battalions are named for the state of operation, the logo of each state’s battalion also includes a black silhouette of the state’s borders.
The capital Lambda (Λ) has a number of historical meanings that could have influenced the inclusion of this figure in III% symobology.
The Greek letter was often printed on the shields of Spartan warriors. An adaptation of the Lambda has been used on NATO vehicles to signify that they are friendly units. Both uses of Lambda mark an inherently military use of this letter, something meant explicitly by III% members.
III% (3 percent) refers to the militiamen’s belief that only 3% of the colonists actually took up arms against the British in the Revolutionary War. Three Percenters today refer to this portion of colonists as a “determined minority” that made history despite making up such a small portion of those for whom they fought.
This brings us to the III% stamp logo. This logo, also in the form of a circle, is a simple one color emblem that can be easily reproduced.
The phrase “When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty” is a more militant adaptation of Thomas Jefferson’s “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty”.
The emblem also includes 13 stars for the original colonies, and the year 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed. Three percenters refer to themselves as “patriots”, so the inclusion of these symbols is no accident.
This logo has found its way into a number of tattoos, of many variations.
Not all III% battalions fly the same flags. All fly 50-star, 13-stripe American flags. Many fly Gadsden flags. Some fly General Lee’s Rebel Battle Flag.
The 50-star/13-stripe American flag makes sense, as all III%ers have a lot of pride in at least the idea of America. These flags are seen as incredibly patriotic and find their way into Facebook banners (like the bald eagle far above) or tattoos (like the Punisher skull tattoo above).
The Gadsden flag, created during the American Revolution and used by rebel forces, has been a longtime symbol of conservative resistance in the US, and was adopted by the TEA Party in 2008. The Gadsden flag appeals to some III%ers for the direct reference to the American Revolution, but some are wary given the flag’s symbolic realignment with the politics of the TEA Party. Some militiamen perceive this realignment as positive, while some do not wish to have their politics confused with the TEA Party. There appears to be some division here, as could be imagined.
General Lee’s Rebel Battle Flag also has a good degree of contention within the III% community. Some militiamen — mostly Southerners — fly the flag. Others don’t. No other recognizable Confederate flags like the Stars and Bars, Stainless Banner, Blood-Stained Banner, Bonnie Blue, or South Carolina Sovereignty Flag appear to have found a mainstream following among the militias, though no others have been so highly politicized recently as Lee’s flag.
III% also has a couple of hand-signs for signalling in photos. These aren’t widespread and are signs that have seen used by other groups, including the Piru Street Family and the Boy Scouts. The first sign, an open hand except for the index finger tucked under the thumb, is an official sign for III%. The second sign, an open hand except for the pinky finger tucked under the thumb, is a reference to a “tree”, a resistance trio (more on trees later).
The group has a pledge that appears on their Facebook page, in addition to a reminder that drama on their Facebook page or forums would be met with punitive action.
The pledge, listed under “Mission” on the group’s Facebook page, mentions a defense of the Constitution against enemies of foreign and domestic origin. This phrase comes from Article VI of the Constitution and has widespread popularity among American militia, including the Oathkeepers.
The pledge is coupled with an unwavering devotion to the cause of the militia, and a direct reference to God.
III% has also included an edited video of Reagan’s soldier’s pledge speech on their website. Reagan is an interesting inclusion on their site, especially given his policy towards greater regulation on what he called “assault weapons”.
The group refers to each other by “Callsigns”, codenames used to disguise identity online or over radio-comms. These include names like “General BloodAgent”, “Captain Killzone”, and “MURDOC”. These names are self-selected and usually used in conjunction with a military rank. It’s unclear whether these ranks follow an official chain of command or are also self-selected. General is reserved for one man, their leader. I have come across a lot of captains and not one ensign or private.
As with many military groups, martyrs are important for militias like the III%. A prominent martyr for III% is LaVoy Finicum, who was part of the Bundy occupation in Oregon. Finicum was killed by federal agents near a roadblock after he crashed his car off of the road. Photos of Finicum decorate III%er Facebook pages, forums, and their website. The Bundy family and Bundy occupation are really critical to III% ideology, so the loss of one of the members is no doubt a heavy hit to like-minded individuals.
There are two prominent leaders of III% that I would like to highlight. The first is a thought-leader within the movement. The second is a logistical commander.
Gavin Seim, the YouTube-vangelist
Gavin Seim describes himself as a “Liberty activist, Portraitist, Pictorialist, Author”, “Public Speaker, Gospel Preacher, Herbalist and law lover”, and “Pictorialist, Portraitist, Civil Liberty Activist… Christian”. Seim has gained some notoriety for confronting police a number of times. He has gained online acclaim for pulling over police, refusing a police checkpoint, and was arrested for refusing a search for fruit pests.
Seim has defended the Bundy family militia and the Oregon occupation of the EPA against Federal Police. He has also defended #NoDAPL protestors in North Dakota against National Guard troops.
Gavin has in recent months switched beyond calling out police overreach to instead making speeches aimed at militiamen in the States. He does this primarily through Facebook Live and his YouTube channel.
Two months ago, Gavin Seim published a video on his YouTube channel in which he declared that many militias across the US have been infiltrated by federal agents. He’s probably not wrong, but this paranoia of federal government overreach is something pretty universal among militia groups.
Gavin, in April, posted a video on his YouTube channel encouraging the growth of a resistance. In Gavin’s view, this resistance would aim to get rid of the current system of governance, without allowing federal agents to arrest their way to the resistance’s destruction.
Seim is not officially associated with the militia group, but his philosophy is pretty popular among members of the groups. He has even previously spoken at III% events.
Seim’s ideology is one of communal care independent of the federal government, a government that he believes to be treasonous and tyrannical. In a lot of ways, there is plenty of overlap of his ideology with that of modern Anarchists, though his ends come from a totally different belief about politics and the driving forces behind human nature than most anarchists.
General BloodAgent (often transcribed “General BlooDAgenT”) is a paralegal and the commander of GSFIII. He is not only in charge of the Georgia militia, but the entirety of the organization of III%. He is chief moderator of the forums on the III% website, his name is attached to funding campaigns for the militia, and he is host of the group’s secret, invite-only chatroom.
On his Facebook page, BloodAgent has lyrics to a metal song in his bio, adds Georgia-oriented militia banner images, and shares militia memes almost daily.
General BloodAgent live streams a high amount of III% rallies, trainings, and exercises. When a new operation or strategic goal is to be established for the militia, BloodAgent is the one who will lay it out in a forum thread or YouTube announcement. BloodAgent speaks in a thick Georgian accent.
III%ers refer potential recruits to BloodAgent. His final approval is requisite of their joining the militia, not just for the GA chapter that he operates within, but nationwide. In order to join, the recruits have to schedule an interview that includes questions and feedback from him.
Like Seim, BloodAgent doesn’t follow a binary politics many people expect. While he is a militia commander, he is also a supporter of activist groups like Anonymous. A disenfranchised former III% member made a video declaring that Anonymous would be coming after BloodAgent, likely knowing that the general would take it seriously. Their mistake? Posting the anonymous video from their YouTube channel that featured an Elf-Yourself video of them.
Seim and BloodAgent appear to work within a very similar ideological political space. While Seim releases his views in a high volume of streamed videos, BloodAgent prefers to stream on YouTube the military side of his militia and share pro-militia news articles and macro’ed images of militiamen on his Facebook.
Membership and Reach
Training camps and videos
III% is unlike many other American militia in the consistency and frequency of their training exercises. Many of these videos are extremely lengthy, and several extend over 90 minutes.
These training exercise videos include group readings of military manuals, weapons trainings, and obstacle courses. In the montage footage of these groups, militia members practice their marksmanship, work on putting together and taking apart firearms, and do jumping jacks. Many times a metal song plays over the footage.
In addition to YouTube montages and personal militia pages, III% uses a number of tools to communiate. This includes the forums on their website, where local militia formations and events are sought out by posters. In the forums, potential militia recruits state their intentions to “plant a tree” (start a militia trio as Gavin Seim mentioned), “water that tree” (grow the militia unit), or “grow the forest” (link up to form local militias recognized by the national chapter as a state militia). This code isn’t very well-documented online, though the pattern of use is apparent given Seim’s calls for resistance.
Facebook is also a well-used tool by III%ers. This includes several public groups with specific purposes that include spaces for new members and spaces for news pertaining to the militia. There are also a few private/closed groups on Facebook that III%ers use to communicate in a group setting for both state chapters and the national organization. All pages say zero drama is acceptable.
The group also uses a private communication program called Zello. Zello is a walkie-talkie app that will not leave a searchable digital text footprint of any communication between militiamembers. It is also heavily encrypted, according to the company that runs the service. This allows for free speech on intentions, plans, and any other coordinated efforts with a lowered risk of government interference. Unfortuantely for some of III%, it appears that the app confuses a good amount of users attempting to join the III% comms channel.
Violence — November 8,9
As we have gotten closer to the American elections, the very real threat of electoral violence grows. Donald Trump is saying that he will only accept the election results if he is declared the winner, calling the elections rigged in favor of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Trump has gone so far as to call on his supporters to monitor election sites to make sure no funny business is happening. He’s done this in nearly the same breath as saying that “Second Amendment people” are great. This is deeply troubling in and of itself, but I figured it would be worthwhile to investigate III%ers for any organized plan to monitor polling places or respond to elections.
The III% are hosting an event called “2016 Election Riots”. The event does not say that it will be GSFIII that starts the riots, but members seem ready to respond to riots by BLM and Hillary supporters when Donald wins on November 8.
But then there’s this post from October 20:
And these in the days preceding:
III% as an organization (General BloodAgent surely) supports Trump in his insistence that he will not accept the results of this “rigged election”. This is extremely worrying. A lot of III% members listen to this page, and a lot of them greatly respect their leader.
The III% soldier level is just as worrying.
III%ers are posting that they will be attending polls as observers. Almost all of the publicly identified III% facebook users have a firearm in their profile picture or posted a photo with their gun in the last week. These are armed individuals, many of whom are connected to other like-minded armed folks aligned with the III% militia.
In comments, in discussions on event pages, and in posts on their own pages, references to going to war and mention of the duty of Patriots to defend the Constitution are many and growing in frequency as the election approaches.
Trump has said that 2nd Amendment patriots would have to figure something out should Clinton win the election. People at his rallies have said that they are gun owners and would do whatever it took to remove her from office, smirking at the journalist interviewing them. This language is being repeated among many militia members.
Coded language is necessary for a militia to work without state justification for police or security intervention. It makes determining real intentions really difficult, so it complicates the approval of warrants for law enforcement. It also makes it tough to discern the exact plans and sentiment for many of these members. They could truly intend to maintain law and order in the riots they are afraid may be coming towards us on E-Day and the day after. They could also mean that they intend to stand — armed — outside of polling stations. This is a violent felony, as it is considered voter intimidation (regardless of state open-carry laws). They could also be planning a response to election results should Trump not be declared the victor.
A lot of these men and women have been training for years. Many of them are ready for outward resistance. All III%ers see themselves as modern day “determined minorities”, justifying a disregard for the fact that protests remain poorly attended in the US, much less violent forms of resistance.
Gavin cast his vote for Bundy/Bundy. III% soldiers seem overwhelmingly in favor of Trump, and several have even referred to GOP leadership as non-conservatives and traitors for their criticism of Trump. This split between idea-makers and action-takers is common in history, and not surprising in this context either.
A lot about GSFIII and other III% chapters remains unknown and will take more investigation to figure out. This quick article is but a dip into the ideology, organization, and capacities of Three Percenter militias in the US. This work is based off of only publicly available material, which means what is displayed here is only the very tip of the iceberg.