Revisiting GSFIII: ‘Civil disobedience’, anti-abortion activism, and splinters new and old
This post is a long read on the III% movement, filling in some of the gaps from my original GSFIII piece and in the time since. This will likely be followed by other minor updates, which will be linked at the end of this piece as they are completed.
MilitiaWatch started as a publication here on Medium back in 2016 with a profile of the Georgia Security Force III% (GSFIII), its links to a national movement of militias under the same brand, and some of the ideological underpinnings of these movements. I had been tracking militia activity for a couple of years at that point and had been observing for years before that. This publication has since found a bit of a different editorial and design vision and has a larger audience than when that piece was released, but it’s available to read here:
GSFIII, Resistance, and Elections 2016
The New York Times recently wrote a piece about some militiamen from the Georgia Security Force III%, with some great…
This piece will revisit the GSFIII, re-examine the state of the III%, and discuss what sort of new ideological underpinnings are influencing this particular segment of the American militia movement. Many pieces on this site show directions that militias appear to be going or what sort of dynamic they might represent. These pieces are fairly constrained to the specific context under which they are written, and this ‘update’ is no different from that but is partly written to connect two dots.
A “shift” in tactics?
This new interest in engagement with anti-abortion legislation marks a bit of a shift in how GSFIII and its associated militia groups are viewing their role in society. Chris Hill, the head of GSFIII and the de facto leader of the “Security Force” brand of III% groups, announced in April that the Security Force militia would be moving towards “civil disobedience”, which he defined, “what I mean by civil disobedience is all laws that are in conflict with the Constitution are hereby declared null and void”.
It’s worthwhile to note that it’s important to understand sometimes words like “civil disobedience” are partially misinterpreted by the group (or at least by Hill, who later in the same broadcast said “private militia is when you get paid, we aren’t getting paid”). Civil disobedience means breaking the law to show that law or authority is unjust. As will be seen later, GSFIII’s ‘civil disobedience’ in practice really just means protesting or rallying, sometimes in support of passing new unjust laws.
One of the issues capturing the attention of these militias in the last few months includes the ever-present discussion in militia spaces over potential government gun-grabs. They constantly discuss a coming “red flag law” that they expected Trump to put in place on firearms, which for Hill would be the ‘last strike’ for the current US president he and his militia friends so vocally support. The reason that these fears are present is that these militias see any disarmament as effectively disbanding the militia.
When it comes to Trump support, and specifically the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, Hill fears an attack on the Electoral College. He claims a move to a popular vote (which doesn’t look imminent) would mean that the “country is gone”. As part of this ‘civil disobedience’ to a feared gun grab, Hill floated the idea of a “damn armed parade on Pennsylvania Avenue” and said that III% needed to “take back the Constitution” and “get rid of all these fucking communists”. Another militia member, Greg Scott, added that it would take “God, guts, and guns to get this done”.
New abortion politics
Before getting into other specifics, I first want to discuss an event on March 23, 2019. The GSFIII showed up on the steps of the Capitol in Atlanta to voice their support for anti-abortion legislation by the state in the wake of celebrity response to a new draconian fetal heartbeat bill now signed by the Georgia governor. The March 23 protest featured about two dozen or so attendees on the steps of the Georgia Capitol Building. Atlanta is an open-carry city in an open-carry state, so many arrived armed or with a long rifle across their chest. Numerous photographs were taken by press and militia members alike.
At this rally, GSF speakers threatened violence against those who wish to continue providing abortive services. While GSF folks are clear they are not talking about bombing clinics, there is a dark past to these types of threats, with Atlanta being the site of one of the worst terror attacks by anti-abortion activists. In an interview with an NPR reporter, Chris Hill said “I would kick a doctor’s ass” if he found out that a doctor was providing abortive care. In a follow-up video, Chris Hill doubled down on his comments adding “that sounds bad, but you can’t sugarcoat shit”. A viewer of the stream and III% member, Skylar Steward, added:
Steward was later asked to join the broadcast, which happened after some partying after the March 23 protest in Atlanta. Steward didn’t join the late broadcast, but other individuals were invited and joined later. GSFIII leader Chris Hill was joined at his computer for the broadcast by III% Security Force (III%SF) members out of Alabama and Tennessee who came to Georgia for the anti-abortion protest, including III%SF members “Rambo” (David Massey), “Crocket”, and “EvilAngel” (Michelle Long).
Even on this broadcast, Hill continued talking about the need to “drag [doctors] away from the table and beat them up”. Skylar Steward, who is mentioned above making the “bullet in the head” comment, tried to provoke and fight counterprotesters at a III% protest a month before.
The protest that happened on February 23 — exactly a month before the March 23 rally by GSFIII in Atlanta — was referred to as the .223 protest, 223 rallies, 2/23, or just 223. Chris Hill created a Facebook event for every state, calling on members of the III% Security Force to join in their own respective spaces.
In a video recorded in his truck on January 22, 2019, and while death metal played over his speakers, GSFIII leader Chris Hill called for a “redress of grievances” on all US capitals on February 23. In his monologue, he referred to Nancy Pelosi’s “congresscritters” as “satanic communist[s]”. The 10 minute-long video is filmed on Hill’s cell phone, despite Georgia’s hands-free law (another form of ‘civil disobedience’, I suppose). In discussing his own potential martyrdom for his cause, Hill equates himself to LaVoy Finicum, an idol and martyr for patriot militias around the US.
The “redress of grievances” being brought to these US capitals was revealed at a later date to be the reaffirmation that the 2nd Amendment shall not be infringed. however, a few other issues were also added:
- Congress can’t pass a law that only applies to citizens and not representatives
- Senators/US Representatives would have term limits
- ID requirement for voting
- Build Trump’s wall
These issues are a sort of spattering of generic talking points that a lot of Republicans themselves already push for, but were an easy platform for militias, regardless of state, to rally around.
From my own research, there is evidence of rallies at 19 states in total. Here is a map of the states that had Security Force III% coverage:
.223 was much more national than the 3/23 event the month later, and each state took on its own unique flavor to the event. In some states, it was a bunch of guys kitted out in their fatigues. In other states, a more casual family event.
There was, however, quite a wide range of attendance numbers, from 1 individual in New Mexico and Arizona to ~35 in California. These are mapped on a scale below:
And, again, this time controlled for state population:
Cops in the comments section
It’s a longstanding trend that many right-wing organizations encourage their members to join law enforcement agencies in order to “do the work without doing the time”. This is something that the outwardly White Nationalist Republic of Florida Militia espouses, for example.
While GSFIII and III%SF leadership, in general, doesn’t appear to yet be telling members to “read Siege” or whatever, the overlap between these militias and police forces are worth noting.
There are varying levels of involvement by these ‘cops in the comments’, for which I will provide some examples at different scales. Our first example is Daryl V Ferguson, a police officer affiliated with III%SF.
These photos, taken from his public profile, show (from left to right) Daryl wearing a III% hat and discussing the oath he took as an officer (while wearing a Nine Line shirt, popular with right-wing ‘Patriots’), Daryl on the job as a Florida officer, and finally Daryl wearing a Trump 2020 hat, and a Laochra MC patch and III% patch on the same biker jacket. Laochra MC is a Florida motorcycle club for former police officers. Daryl has joined several live streams to comment things like “hoorah” and “hello soldiers” to III%SF leadership and guests.
Daryl wears III% attire in public, is politically involved, and is a police officer.
Next is an EMT named Chris Pickle. He often amplifies III%SF propaganda to his public Facebook feed, though doesn’t appear to be too involved otherwise.
Chris Pickle is an EMT and many of his public posts on Facebook are sharing GSFIII’s “intel” page. When he has joined some streams, he has typed in the chat “guns up”, as well.
Adam Root, an EMT from NC, has joined chats with “guns up”, and identified himself as NC III%. He has III% profile pictures, too.
Proud Boy and Fascist entryism to III%
In new in-depth research of III%SF activities, a few disturbing new trends presented themselves. These militia groups have long claimed to be against fascist organizing and often appear at protests with signs equating the religion of Islam to Nazism as a way to denigrate the religion based upon the militia members’ shared logics.
However, many of those involved in 223 and other recent waves of “civil disobedience” under GSFIII leadership have other political affiliations outside of the III% movement. It’s unlikely that other III% people don’t know this, especially since this information is largely public.
For example, there are III% affiliates who also support or consider themselves Proud Boys. Take, for example, Justin French (who has “Threeper”, or three-percenter, in his FaceBook name).
There are also those like Richard Maxson, who occasionally come into III%SF spaces for “roll call” announcements to tell where they are, but don’t seem to be connected to the militia movement in any meaningful way.
This high-volume account posts all kinds of stuff that’s fairly usual for the American right-wing. For example, the ‘white lives matter’ meme that white nationalists online have been spreading around towns and campuses. Richard’s cover photo is also a quote from Augustus Invictus, a former Libertarian Party member who was denounced by members of the party as a fascist.
Then there’s Marie Wheeler, who attended a III%SF .223 event.
Marie is outright and undoubtedly fascist, posting pictures of Hitler, fascist books, and fascist propaganda and symbols. She was able to attend a Security Force event with little trouble and was in their photos of the event, as well.
Next, there’s the strain of Crusaders, which may sound odd for this militia, but has actually been a central tendency of more active members and led to a lot of the drama between III% organizations in the past. These other connections will be detailed later.
For now, see Keen Kt Creed. He’s former Indiana Home Guard.
Keen’s profile is full of III% and Crusader symbolism. He’s got a ton of photos looking extremely militant and “training” with his partners. He’s also got a photo of himself with his “life long friend”, a police officer who doesn’t seem to have a problem with taking a photo with him while he wears a cross patch on his sleeve that has come to indicate that he’s a Crusader-type militiaman.
Crusader-type strains aren’t unique to Chris Hill’s III% Security Force brand, either. John Hodish of the Steel City Threepers, written about on MilitiaWatch previously, tried to start a Crusader-type organization in 2017. These tendencies provide interesting new understandings of the complex ideological webbing among many militia members, whether they be Proud Boys, Crusaders, Nazis, or something else entirely.
Crusader Types: Bomb threats out of Capitol protests
Crusader-type militants among III% groups is not a new function of this American militia movement. In fact, one of the most notable recent attempted acts of Christian terrorism against Muslim groups sprung directly out of the III% movement.
In 2016, three militants planned to kill Somalis living in Garden City, KS. They intended for their action to start a religious war against Muslims. The three men involved were Patrick Eugene Stein, Curtis Wayne Allen, and Gavin Wayne Wright. All three were arrested before they could follow through with their plans and were all convicted with sentences of 25–30 years.
This Crusader group, calling themselves the “Kansas Crusaders” sprung out of another Kansas militia group, the “Kansas Security Force” (KSF). The KSF was a III% Security Force organization affiliated with Chris Hill’s III%.
It’s important here to recall what was going on in the III% movement in 2016. GSFIII, for example, was involved in a movement that Chris Hill referred to as the “American Crusade” (AC).
This “American Crusade” launched on the first Saturday of February 2016, involving Chris Hill and several other GSFIII/AC-affiliated individuals protesting in downtown Atlanta.
This AC period involved a lot of different public discussion pushed by Hill and company, including criticism of the Patriot Act and discussion about Tower 7 conspiracy theories. They were in no small part reacting to the death of LaVoy Finicum, an important figure at the Malheur standoff who was killed by the Feds after a short chase. Note the multiple anti-FBI signs in the group shot, below.
After the news broke of the KC guys getting picked up by the FBI, the Kansas affiliate of the III%SF tried its best to distance itself from the would-be terrorists. Those KSF members interviewed in the media admit to having talked with members of the KC militia but said no conversations ever included any intent to turn to violence. It is worthwhile to note, though, that the KSF social media pages and forums were likely what connected the KC men, and that these guys in a lot of ways made up some of the more active KSF members in 2016. In a form that is pretty typical of these sorts of groups when something dramatic like this happens, KSF leadership in the press discussed the KSF as a “loosely aligned alliance” of local III% militia cadres.
A good bit of the anti-Islam posting has, of course, continued among many III%SF members and leaders. Take, for example, this post from David Massey (“Rambo”) of the Alabama Security Force III%.
Rambo’s post isn’t an outlier among a lot of these militias, either. Most militias under the III% brand say they are open to all races and backgrounds, but many say they will not accept Muslims among their ranks. Rambo isn’t just a regular III% member, though, as he is often joining other III%SF folks on live-streamed videos, and was the one wearing the Confederate flag top in the “last call” video posted earlier in this article.
So a lot of the elements of the “crusader-type” era of III%SF hasn’t necessarily left these groups or members of these groups, but from what larger politics did AC come?
‘American Crusade’ was a concept that was pushed in early 2016 in III% Security Force spaces.
This was also while Donald Trump was especially aggressive against Muslim Americans and Muslim-majority countries abroad, having just taken office on January 20. The KC would-be terrorists tried to cite this rhetoric as something that inspired them and therefore should be kept in mind when sentencing was reached.
It is interesting, though, that despite the GSFIII and other III% Security Force militias ‘disavowing’ the KC guys, late 2016 was another moment during which the GSFIII made major headlines as they protested against the construction of a mosque and cemetery in Newton County.
In the original January 2016 video announcing this American Crusade, Chris Hill used an acronym for AC-associated demands, “B.R.E.A.K.I.N.G. P.O.I.N.T.”, which included “ISIS: find them, kill them, kill their supporters” or “Remove homosexuality from schools”. The ISIS point is really crucial at this juncture to understanding GSFIII and the greater “Security Force” as a whole.
The mosque planned for Newton was smeared by the group as a space for training ISIS militants. It’s not difficult to see how folks might be concerned by these threats of violence against perceived ISIS targets followed by declarations that this mosque project had anything to do with ISIS (it absolutely 100% did not). This concern was further stoked when III%SF militia members and affiliated individuals started showing up with guns and wearing shirts that said things like “God Hates Islam”.
These protests continued for quite a bit of time, with many protests involving armed militia members or individuals wearing camouflage and military boots. Protests led to cancellations of county council meetings over the proposed mosque building project, with the representatives themselves citing security concerns.
But there’s something else that’s interesting about the formatting of the call to action and planned protest schedule of the original AC call made by Chris Hill. In it, Hill calls for III% Security Force members to embark on an American Crusade on “all capitals” the “first or second Saturday of every month”, beginning with February 6, 2016, and continuing “indefinitely” and involving members dressed in “full battle rattle”. This, of course, sounds familiar to the 2/23 and 3/23 calls for “redress of grievances” on US capitals of this year.
While Hill is using some different language in this early 2019 round of protests from the early 2016 ones (this time concerned about issues from GSFIII’s desired abortion ban to support for building Trump’s wall), that he’s conceiving of a similar style of campaign in early 2019 is interesting. It begs the question of what is coming for the fall of 2019 if the Fall that followed this 2016 call-to-action showed GSFIII militia members threatening a mosque project in Georgia.
November: March on THE Capitol
This coming November 9th, III% Security Force members are called to rally in DC for a “2nd [Amendment] Rally” and another “Redress of Grievances”. This is a march onto the Arlington Memorial Bridge from both sides of the bridge, involving open carry of whatever weapons could be legally carried in DC and a rally on the bridge.
Chris Hill is calling for 5000 people to show up and has encouraged people to split hotel rooms in order for everyone to fit. For those bunking together in these hotels, Hill is calling these groups “Patriot Parties”.
This event has several elements of planning that III%SF people are going through currently. For example, Sheldon Hill (a sock puppet account of Chris Hill’s) has laid out three phases of preparation for this event. The first is outreach to III%ers, the second is allocation to specific state pages and outreach to media, and the third is putting together a schedule of speakers for the event.
Interestingly enough, despite this being part of the “civil disobedience” that III%SF and Chris Hill are engaged in, the militia will be seeking a permit from the police in order to hold their event.
It’s an event that doesn’t seem to have a view on the use of violence, but members are showing up armed and some attendees have expressed that they are ready for a fight. Hill says he expects that Antifa activists will show up to the event.
November 9th is an especially awkward date for a march on Washington for a militia movement that has had its difficulties with hate crimes and Islamophobia in the past. It was a national holiday in Nazi Germany to memorialize those Nazi activists killed in the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. In 1938, after the Nazis took power, November 9th was the date of Kristallnacht, too. On this night, around 400 German Jews were killed or killed themselves after Nazis burned or destroyed Jewish property and synagogues. It’s since then become a very important date for Neo-Nazis, too, both in Germany and around the West.
It’s likely that Chris Hill and other III%SF people don’t know the significance of this date for both Nazi Germany and contemporary fascist groups, but it’s doubtful that they will screen those who would be joining this march (or even necessarily be able to in some instances).
Divisions in the III%
It’s important to also discuss the substantial divisions within the III% movement. This “Security Force” branding of III% marks just one of the many separate III% movements in the US.
First off, recall that the Kansas Crusaders, who planned to kill Muslims in 2016, were affiliated with the III%SF. The members of the KC were KSF members who met each other through the militia network. The plans of the KC, and particularly the media firestorm in the wake of them being caught, led to many individuals and groups to try to distance themselves from the group. One of the early splinters from the III% Security Force was the We The People III% (WTPIII%). We The People III% Kentucky (WTPIII%KY) remains active today, 3 years after this split.
It’s important to note, however, that this split and disavowal from the III%SF chapter in Kentucky didn’t necessarily mean that in 2019 the WTPIII%KY or its affiliates are ‘progressive’ on Muslims.
This is just a sampling of public posts by the militia and affiliated individuals. The WTPIII%KY page has even screenshotted posts from right-wing Facebook groups to share on their own page (see “The NEW Deplorables”, above).
Another III% splinter is the III% Nation (III%N), a national conglomerate like the III%SF, but less active. Several Facebook groups and fan pages have been made to represent this group, but nothing substantive stays for too long. One of them claims that III%N is focused on providing relief to homeless veterans around the US. There are, however, plenty of anti-Islam posts scattered about these pages. Note the use of the lame “then I’m a (fucking) racist” macro image used by III%N below, albeit with a different picture than the one posted by WPTIII%KY.
III%N was created by Dustin Sherman, who hosts a patriot chat video call live stream and is now involved with the III% United Patriots, too. Sherman is the “commanding officer” for III% United Patriots’ Alaska chapter now.
The III% United Patriots (III%UP) is one of the larger III% movements around today (outside of the III%SF label). Most of the activity is centered around their Colorado chapter in the way that the III%SF is centered around the Georgia chapter. III%UP claims to have operatives in every state.
One III%UP member posted an image with a logo featuring a Valknut in the center of the circle of values. The Valknut is a Norse symbol marking slain warriors and often indicating the afterlife. Like many ancient and benign symbols, the Valknut has been instrumentalized by contemporary fascist groups, even appearing at Charlottesville during the #UniteTheRight rally. It’s unclear which interpretation this militia member is taking with using this symbol, but it has appeared alongside some III%UP public posts/propaganda.
One of the members of the III%UP Colorado (III%UPC) militia, Mark Correll Sr, said to the press that he has a city councilman and a police officer “on [his] team”. In the same press tour, another III%UPC member, “Yota”, metaphorically referred to the group as “the Christian motorcycle group” among other Patriot movement groups.
III%UP has among some of the slickest media of any III% group, boasting drone footage, multi-angle camera work, and impressive editing in all of their videos, whether they are documenting an FTX or a “patrol” on the border. They also, like many other Patriot groups and III%ers alike, benefit from substantial media platforming, with local reporters often providing an uncritical and sometimes glowing review of these groups and their work. Some reporters even say that these groups, III%UP included, are “misrepresented” by the media.
There is substantial overlap between III%UPC and another III% militia splinter, called the American Patriots the III%. Members of both act amicably to one another in most comments sections.
The American Patriots the III% (APIII) was founded by Scott Seddon. Seddon has at least three different Facebook accounts, showing both his affiliation to APIII and him making III% hand signs. On one of his accounts, his profile picture is him posing with Republican Texas Senator Dan Crenshaw.
APIII, among other things, has a tab on their website for “Conservative Businesses” for their members to support. They claim to have chapters all throughout the US, but many of the Facebook links that APIII provides for state chapters lead to deleted pages.
APIII, like many other militia groups, raises some money by raffling off items such as ammunition or survival kits. One recent current raffle (May 13-June 6, 2019) is 1000 5.56 NATO rounds by PMC. Like other militia groups, it also features an online store where people can buy branded patches, t-shirts, and even “challenge coins” with militia symbols pressed onto them. APIII symbols often feature Spartan shields or helmets, things that are commonplace in most militia iconography, not just III% ones.
III% Republic (III%R) is yet another III% umbrella organization. They have as their stated goals to “network, prepare, petition and rally together on a local, state and national level” and to “make positive advances in the restoration of our Constitutional Republic”. Most of their online engagement is sharing the usual right-wing news that seems to rattle around a lot of these spaces, often with added commentary about “liberals”. They have set up state chapter Facebook groups for all states, but many have low numbers of members. For example, the South Carolina group has 25 members, and neither of the page’s admins is from SC. Michael, one of the page’s moderator, interestingly enough, changed his profile picture to the 2/23 flag image shared by GSFIII for their national rally.
Michael has also shared GSFIII’s November 9 protest plan to his public profile. This probably speaks more to the inactivity of III%R more than potential cross-over for the organizations, as Michael is in Georgia (he posted a photo of his Georgia “I Voted” sticker in a photo saying he voted for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp). In all likelihood, Michael is probably now just involved with GSFIII and never took the time to leave the Facebook group for III%R.
The III% Originals (III%O) is a final competing III% brand to be discussed here. They claim to be a platform for local networking around a core of ideas and say they are not themselves a militia. On their site, they say they “do not seek to incite a revolution”. This is despite the sort of ahistorical myth at the foundations of the III% movement (that 3% of American colonists took up arms to protect themselves from the King) appearing prominently on their site and “1776” often occurring in III%O-produced III% logos.
Their primary focus is in linking up like-minded militia members through Facebook and their website, then directing these visitors towards groups and forums marked for individual states. This doesn’t, however, mean that there are chapters in these states. For example, the South Carolina group has nearly 1000 members at the time of writing, but no admin for the SC group is from South Carolina. Instead, they are from Missouri, North Carolina, and Mississippi.
One moderator of this SC group, Amanda, lives in Fountain Inn, SC, but her profile is largely void of III% propaganda. Another moderator, Kurt, lives in Greenville, SC, and claims his job as “SCIII Z3L”, but also doesn’t post III% propaganda on his page publicly. Another moderator, Mike, lives in Johnsonville, SC, and also doesn’t post III% images publicly. The final moderator, Mason, lives in Orangeburg, SC, and has a III% cover photo and an old profile photo of himself from 2017 with an AR-15 stock visible in the shot. None of these individuals are posting as frequently on their timelines about III%, which is pretty unusual for III%ers in any sort of a leadership role.
Security Force/Originals Strife
On 12 March 2018, the III% Originals put out a press release titled “Statement Against III% Security Force”, which referred to GSFIII leader Chris Hill as “an anti-government extremist” and reaffirmed III%O’s commitment to “protect the rights of all citizens regardless of their skin color, creed, or religious affiliation” after Islamophobic actions and optics put out by GSFIII affiliates. III%O said they would permanently remove any of its members they found that had any association with III%SF. This release came after (according to Chris Hill) “former members” of the North Dakota Security Force III% filmed themselves blowing up a mock replica of a mosque in a video. In an “open letter” response, Chris Hill said new leadership of NDSFIII% was put into place in the wake of this controversy with III%O.
The 12 March statement by III%O was written by Flordia member and region leader William Simms, who has since used the press release to push back against journalists and publications that call III%ers racist or anti-government. It’s a statement that was probably being considered by III%O for some time, as they issued another press release just 5 months prior after WSB-TV2 Atlanta included the GSFIII as an “alt-right” group operating in Georgia. WSB quoted Chris Hill saying he’d be “honored to be called alt-right” due to his anti-Islam views. He has since gone back on this.
This denunciation, of course, has led to a larger debate within the III% movement as a whole, which centers around the ontological questions of this movement: who owns this brand, who controls it, and what does it mean to call yourself III%? There are those who refer to the “principles” (be they 3 or 4 or 5 in number) of the III%ers, others who refer to who started their chapters when, and others still who discuss copyright and image creation.
This is something that has caused significant rifts in between III% movements that have otherwise been fairly ideologically aligned. However, it has also, for some members, pointed out some of the ideology espoused by militia members that seemed untenably toxic. In the wake of these revelations, some former members publicly said they left APIII because of “nationalist propaganda” or figured anyone who called themselves “‘General Blood Agent’” was “an idiot loon”. Many others defended Hill and III%SF saying that defending the Constitution “these days” makes someone “anti-government” or stood with Hill saying he’s a “Real patriot”.
One of the things constantly stated by Hill and other III% groups is that III% is an idea or a lifestyle with no real national leadership. They instead claim that they are a conglomeration of state chapters. This is partially contradicted by the very national planning in which Hill and III%SF is currently engaged.
However, one of the more contemporary struggles between III%SF and III%O is over branding. III%SF tried to order gear with the III% Roman numeral logo but were told by the printing site that the image is copyrighted by the III%O. That this strife is causing financial hurt through its effect on merchandising is only doubled by the fact that it’s made militia members’ ability to represent the III% more difficult, too. Occasionally, III%O members have reached out to III%SF members, including during live broadcasts. These public affairs almost always end in vehement disagreement and hurt feelings.
These divisions between III%ers is of no surprise to anyone watching the space, nor to those acting within this space, either. For example, in a 2016 interview with John Crump, III%O’s Kaleb Hill identified the biggest challenge to the Patriot movement coming from “differences of opinion”, saying that the “biggest threat to our organization” was “our own selves”. Kaleb Hill’s comrade Dominic Chappell backed this up, saying that a “lack of professionalism among patriotic people” stoked this disunity.
On February 6, 2019, the III%O national council put out another statement against Chris Hill’s III%SF, saying they were banning III%O members from attending Hill’s 2/23 rallies on state capitals due to the “character and reputation of the organizer”.
It’s interesting to note again the original complaints by the III%O against III%SF, which was about holding anti-Islam views and allowing these views within the III% space Chris Hill created. This is interesting, especially, when diving into both information shared by official III%O pages and by its members in the comments sections. Take, for example, the comments section of this one post on 6 June 2019:
I mentioned just a bit ago that these divisions between III% movements have occurred despite a lot of ideological overlap. Perhaps it’s the “unprofessionalism” of those involved that has sown these rifts, or perhaps it’s something else entirely.
Chris Hill continues to call for III% unity and solidarity, saying things like “fuck the rest of the name, if you’ve got the III% in your name, you gotta stand with us” whenever III%SF comes under attack. A lot of this is happening in the contemporary, likely influenced by recent events regarding Chris Hill and Skylar Steward receiving death threats from “Johnny Infidel” of FreedomFighterRadio, a right-wing extremist media outlet.
James Joseph Stachowiak, the man behind this site and these threats, is constantly making similar death threats against random people in the militia sphere. He does this when he isn’t making lengthy rants against the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR, and Black Lives Matter.
A lot of this hate for Chris Hill and the like comes from continued rumors that Chris Hill is a federal agent and a Nazi. Some of this stems from constant reposting of a September 2016 post on the Sipsey Street Irregulars Blogspot, where a lot of early III% writing appeared.
Johnny Infidel/Stachowiak has only posted once about GSFIII in June 2019 (at time of writing), but wrote or reposted old articles about III%SF often in May, April, and March of 2019. Claims range from “III% Security Force is American Version of ISIS” to “Georgia III% Security Force is Allied with Nazis” to “Security Force Support… Convicted Child Rapist”.
Johnny Infidel/Stachowiak is extremely aggressive and appears to be unstable in almost all videos he posts on his Facebook and website (which are usually just embedded versions of his Facebook rants).
He spends a lot of time calling out “Faketriots” among the right-wing militia movements of the US, often while holding a gun. He’s extremely pro-Trump and some of his consistent criticisms levied against others in these videos and articles is that his targets are anti-Trump and only posing as members of the militia movements.
At the time of writing, members of the III%SF are also embroiled in a disagreement with the XII% Dirty Dozen, led by Diane L Miller/Diane Zauderer Miller. This group claims to be a Christian humanitarian organization and, like most militias, says it isn’t a militia. Diane says that their chief commanding officer is Jesus.
The III% movement is significantly fragmented in 2019, with many political and personal disagreements fomenting discontent and suspicion of other groups for years. Despite many III%ers and III% brands agreeing on a lot of the same issues, media pressure and individual action by members has led to the burning of bridges and public disassociation. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the militia group doing the denouncing of another has left behind the toxic ideology they claim to be criticizing, as is evidenced here.
III% is still likely the largest militia branding by presence in states, number of individual militias/units, and number of people involved with them. These spaces are definitely ones to watch, especially since these militias are particularly activated around election cycles, where political news on elections is at the forefront (this is aggravated by the fact that 2020 is a presidential election involving Trump).
These groups have largely not done the work they claim to have done to avoid the fomenting of violent Islamophobia among their ranks, even those that have condemned and distanced themselves from such “racist activities” just one year ago. Many of these rivalries, therefore, feel less about the principles and more about the internal and external politics of running one of these right-wing militias in the US.
The move by III%SF towards this new “civil disobedience” doesn’t actually mark a seismic shift for the organization. GSFIII itself has been using similar tactics for years, from protesting the construction of a mosque to the American Crusade era to their individual involvement in several armed protests in Atlanta since 2016. Their now-public anti-choice views and their discussions of violence against doctors that provide abortive services are new and troubling. Since Trump’s election, many militias have done an about-face with how they feel about the US government and expansion of said government (unless Nancy Pelosi is talking). Chris Hill still worries about new gun restrictions, but many in the militia sphere are unquestionably behind Donald Trump, even attacking their own for not supporting Trump enough.
The contemporary legacy of some of these militias, then, is pretty mixed. There’s a battle for the soul of the III%, with many individuals and groups vying for what it means to be III% and where funding should be allocated (funding is something that often causes rifts among militia groups working towards similar ends). Some media outlets have sent a reporter to their loudest local III%-branded chapter, asking them to speak for the whole of the movement. The leadership of these local chapters is then happy to speak for the whole of the movement, often drawing ire online from other III% groups nearby and across the country.
This November 9 march in DC organized by Chris Hill and GSFIII will be interesting to watch for what sort of specific tactics these III%ers engage in and what sort of response or reception they expect. It could set the tone for the next era of right-wing militia activity in the US.
A follow-up article is now available, detailing the internal politics turned public over the November 9 gathering and the fate of those mentioned above. You can read it here:
Thanks so much for reading! Consider subscribing to MilitaWatch on Medium or following us on Twitter!