Secessionist Boot Camps, White Nationalist Ideology, and School Shooting: A review of the Republic of Florida Militia
This story was originally written in October 2017, but was kept in my draft folder after unwanted attention. It has since been amended in the wake of a massacre committed by a young man who may have trained with the group.
Very few American militias are overt in their hate, and instead adhere to a mix of ideals loosely related to defense of the Constitution, God, or Country. Many militias focus on field training exercises, community outreach, or training in the ideology of Constitutionalism. However, there are definitely some significant exceptions to this generalization. MilitiaWatch has covered the formation of an armed wing of an organization that mixes White Nationalist and Neo-Confederate thought as well as militias that have come to provide security at events organized by hate groups. The group covered in this article is likely more extreme than either of those two.
The Republic of Florida Militia (ROFM)
The ROFM is the armed wing of the Republic of Florida (ROF), an organization seeking to create a system of governance in their area (and therefore needing an armed wing for community defense). The ideology that is described within this piece is technically ascribed to those that are part of the ROF, but are ideals that the ROFM seeks to defend. Therefore, beliefs and operations are shared between both ROFM and ROF. For the coverage of this article we will treat the two as nearly the same entity.
The ROF is a White Nationalist organization, meaning that they believe in their right to exist in a white nation without cultural and racial influence from any other peoples. They define themselves as a “white civil rights organization” and see as an ultimate goal the creation of a “white ethnostate”. Their method of approaching this has taken several different forms, with the most uniform being to create white neighborhoods in cities, where they will establish communes with their own set of White Nationalist laws. Among the key principles of membership within the ROF is members’ allegiance to their race and refusal to have sex with any non-white individual.
Their ideology is somewhat based off of a short-lived state called the Republic of West Florida. It only existed as its own republic for a few months at the start of the 19th century before the United States annexed the territory. The Republic of West Florida actually contained a bit of territory now part of Louisiana but mostly covered the territory east of the Mississippi at the far western corner of the Florida panhandle. The territory was questionably included by France in the Louisiana Purchase, prompting a very swift migration of mostly English-blooded white settlers into the territory. At the time, however, the space was still ruled by Spanish colonists. The new migrants eventually rebelled against the Spaniards in 1810 to form an independent republic.
Its flag was simple: a white star on a blue banner. The simple design mirrors a lot of US symbolism, but the deployment of a Republic of West Florida flag is usually intentional among any Florida-based group that might choose to fly these colors.
What this flag has come to represent for those outside of Florida, though, is the early period of the Confederacy. The flag of the Republic of West Florida is more well known as the Bonnie Blue flag, which was flown by specific units at the start of the Civil War before being replaced by several other flags, most importantly the Rebel Battle Flag and the “Stars and Bars” of the Confederacy.
The Republic of West Florida/Bonnie Blue flag has been used by ROF and ROFM representatives alongside their own symbols on numerous occasions. Among their membership at protests they will usually have one alongside a variation on the navy x-bar flag at the start of this section. When reaching for donations from the community, they have used this flag, too.
The ROF is decidedly White Nationalist, identifying themselves as such as well as continuously pushing White Nationalist lines.
In a video he uploaded through an accountoriginally meant as an anonymous channel, the leader of ROF encouraged his viewers to read “Siege”, saying, “Stop being a White liberal; liberalism is what got us into this fuckin’ mess!” (Siege is a horrific White Nationalist text loved by neo-fascists and American Nazis.)
In the video, as with many of his videos, the leader of the ROF wears a muted confederate flag on his cap and a skull bandana over his face. The skull covers often appear in other American youth fascist organizations, including notably attached to a recent story on Sam Woodward’s Atomwaffen Division.
ROF leadership (on technically non-ROF channels) constantly post about the need for race war or a new Holocaust. In fact, as recently as last week, the ROF leader’s semi-anonymous YouTube channel featured an upload with cuts of several organizations “out there training to fight for our race”. Among the groups from which footage was sampled, Atomwaffen Division’s film found a comfortable representation both in time on screen as well as number of videos sampled.
The ROF, unlike some other Neo-Confederate or Southern White Nationalist organizations, is not an inherently Christian organization. While some Southern White Nationalists contend that European blood, American values, and Christian faith are all intimately connected, the ROF has no restrictions in this regard. Plenty of their symbols do allude to Christian meanings, but they are mostly those that also have meanings in Celtic or Odinist religious or spiritual thought (religious tenets that are very popular among White Nationalists around the world).
The Republic of Florida is also aggressively anti-drug, with ROFM members patrolling parks in full military garb to attempt to catch kids smoking pot. Drug use for members is only for medicinal purposes, according to the code of ROF.
The ROF is against foreign wars, and consider those slain in Iraq and Afghanistan dying not to keep Americans safe, but losing their lives for a stupid war. They believe that if terrorists want to attack the United States, they can do it from inside the borders and would not need to come from abroad. Their stance is far from a pacifist or anti-war stance, they just believe that the battlefield is at home, not abroad. This is exemplified by propaganda like the “Why fight overseas?” image attached here. Most propaganda follows the same color scheme of this one, with blue, black, and white appearing in nearly every ROF image.
The head of the ROF believes that civil war in the United States is imminent, meaning armed combat in the streets. He also believes that people of his milieu are the new counter-culture.
The ROF and ROFM are fairly different from many other militia movement groups that have been covered on MilitiaWatch, but they share a unique remembrance of history with their own historical reconstruction of Florida’s rebel history.
Leadership and Structure
The ROF and ROFM are both led by the same person, Jordan Jereb. Jereb has been a long-time secessionist, joining up with several organizations to encourage a removal of Federal control over his and other Southern communities.
He’s been to prison on burglary charges and has no difficulty in creating controversy online. On his social media profiles, Jereb is not afraid to drop the n-word excessively and constantly talks about “white liberals”. He has created a number of memes out of himself, including the one below, which shows off some of his tattoos:
The ROFM is divided into several divisions, each indicated by a specific ROF variant flag. The first of these variants is the Jereb Family flag:
This flag, used exclusively by the family of Jordan Jereb within the ROF and ROFM, features the zodiac signs for Jordan, his wife, and their daughter. The Latin at the bottom of the flag reads “Virtute et armis”, which translates to “Power and weapons”. Finally, the flag contains a Trinity Knot on the right side of the flag.
The fact that the Jereb family has its own flag gives further evidence to the family nature of the ROF. The organization and militia specifically appears to consist primarily of family groups, with other like-minded individuals coming into their orbit. This is evidenced by the high number of sibling, father-daughter, and full family pictures appearing within ROF media and propaganda.
ROFM is divided into Companies, that have flags based off of this model:
ROFM also has a “Crusader” variant used by some units as well:
Finally, the ROF apparently has a flag for Naval Operators:
The Company and Naval Operator flags both contain the Latin expression “Salus Populi Lex Suprema”, which means “The welfare of the people is the supreme law”. The Naval Operator flag also has “1810” written on the side, commemorating the year of the establishment of the Republic of West Florida.
ROF Operations and Activities
The group is headquartered in Tallahassee, a community well-known for a continuing issue with KKK recruitment and activity. However, given the proximity to the KKK, it does not appear that the ROF or ROFM have publicly engaged in unity with the KKK, though they have come to the defense of the KKK through the moments they have chosen to join certain protests.
Most armed groups, whether they be militias or the militia wing of an organization, engage in field training exercise (FTX). ROFM is no different, as several different training camps have been filmed to display their might and operations.
As mentioned above, ROF have also engaged in protest movements, joining alongside the League of the South (LoS) to demonstrate against groups that disrespected the Confederacy in their area.
In the past few months, ROFM members have had a slight change in uniforms for community work. Rather than meeting with the community in camo garb as before, they elected to switch to green uniforms as they would appear more formal and less aggressive. However, with this switch in clothing they would not lose their paramilitary look. In a lot of ways, the final months of 2017 and early months of 2018 were a period of shift towards greater emphasis on public recruitment, of which this change in uniform was part.
Group Overlap and Further Collaboration
There has been some overlap between LoS and ROF as both blend Neo-Confederate and White Nationalist thought and are actively engaged in Florida. There is evidence that some of the LoS representatives at the Charlottesville #UniteTheRight event were also members of ROF. However, ROF is more for the secession of communities at a local level while LoS is more focused on the Confederate nation.
ROFM has engaged in joint training exercises with several groups, including at one point combining several secessionist militias to create a day of training with “Secession Commandos”. Other groups involved were the Republic Guerrilla Commandos and the Confederate Republic Militia.
Matthew Heimbach and Matt Parrott, who were in Florida to attend a League of the South event, decided to stop to meet with the head of the ROF at one point.
Heimbach and Parrott are representatives of the Neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party and Traditionalist Youth Network (respectively). Heimbach has spent the last year or so traveling the country to meet up with different hate groups to try to form an umbrella organization under which all could use their local networks to set a national agenda. Heimbach commended ROF for bringing not only men into White Nationalist work but also women.
ROF has also worked within the space of online culture wars, appearing with meme interpretations and using online symbols that like-minded individuals might pick up. From referencing Pepe the Frog in some public messages to attempting to recruit from right-wing Discord servers, they’ve tried to bridge the gap from internet hate to real-world action.
ROF has also shared plans to infiltrate institutions (like the police) as part of a plan to sow the seeds of future radicalization. They refer to this process as part of their “Clandestine Stealth Cells” within their structure and operations, the umbrella term they use for lone wolf attacks.
The Parkland, FL Massacre
On February 14, 2018, a 19-year-old named Nikolas Cruz opened fire on his own classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. His actions killed 17 people, and he escaped the scene with his life, even stopping at Walmart, Subway, and McDonald’s before being arrested by the police.
Cruz was known to always carry a gun and other students had joked that if someone were to shoot up the school, it would have been him. His social media accounts were full of hate speech and his profile picture on Instagram featured him with a Make America Great Again hat and a bandana covering up to his nose.
News broke on February 15, 2018 that Cruz had trained with the Republic of Florida Militia. This initially was confirmed by Jordan Jereb to the Anti-Defamation League, though he said Cruz only trained with the ROFM a few times and was brought along by an ROF member. Jereb said that no order to shoot up his school had been relayed by an ROF or ROFM member to Cruz.
While Cruz very well may have been caught up in ROF or something similar, there is no direct evidence linking him to the group and Jereb is now denying that Cruz ever trained with the group, citing his own lack of sleep and confusion over which “Nicholas” the ADL researcher was referring to. One remaining thing that does give evidence that Nikolas Cruz had connection to ROF is that Jordan Jereb has still admitted that an ROFM member did, in fact, buy a rifle for Cruz at some point. The AR-15 that Cruz used in the school shooting, though, was not this rifle and was instead a rifle that he himself legally bought.
Since the incident and the subsequent firestorm at the expense of ROF and Jereb, the group and its militia have deleted nearly every social media page they previously ran. This includes their YouTube, their Facebook fan page, their Twitter, and their member groups on Facebook. Almost all of these accounts had been actively posting up until the moment of the recanting of Jereb’s statement.