MilitiaWatch
Published in

MilitiaWatch

Sons of Liberty Illinois: Naming for legacy, community support, and identification cards

Recounting the history of the American Revolutionary War has been critical for numerous militia movements in the US. The III% derive their name from the (factually dubious) claim that only 3% of the American colonists rose up against the British state. The Sons of Liberty Illinois have literally adapted the name of a revolutionary colonist group in their attempt to situate themselves within America’s militia mythology. Here’s a short piece on the Illinois militia group, their activities, and what makes them stand out.

Sons of Liberty poster identifying their 1765 principles

The Sons of Liberty Illinois (SLIL, also written Illinois Sons of Liberty or ILSL) are a constitutionalist militia based out of the US state of their moniker.

The name “Sons of Liberty” dates to a secret society of US colonists who organized against the Crown over new taxes. The original Sons of Liberty technically disbanded after the repeal of the Stamp Act, though the name was applied to a number of other American separatist groups during the Revolution.

(The SLIL are among a new wave of 21st century Americans naming themselves after this well-known historical group. In doing so they join paintball teams, a Metal Gear Solid title, and gun dealers.)

SLIL patch logo

The SLIL was formed in 2006 under the motto “Friends, Family, Community”. The official pages of Sons of Liberty Illinois include numerous references to the fact that the organization is not anti-government nor in favor of the overthrow of the US government. What they do oppose though, are “all forms of socialism, fascism, Marxism and communism, and all governments, laws, policies, officials and political organizations that support and promote them”.

Like many militias, the SLIL offers many different levels of engagement for incoming members. In application materials, individuals can opt to join either in Community Defense or in Community Support positions. Community Defense units are typical armed militias seeking to train in weapons skills, while Community Support members are unarmed and take part in the numerous activities in which many militias of this sort engage. These typically involve disaster response, fundraising, community organizing, and recruitment.

However, the Community Support Unit has often engaged with political parties outside of the SLIL. These parties include the TEA Party as well as political gatherings of “The Deplorables”, but community engagement has also involved fundraisers for community relief in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Response to this hurricane was popular among militias from Texas.

The Sons of Liberty Illinois is divided into 5 numbered battalions, each containing another 3 companies (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie), with the exception of the 2nd Battalion, which has a Delta company, too.

The commander of the 1st Battalion goes by the name “Colonel TooTall”.

The commander of the 2nd Battalion goes by the name “Lieutenant Colonel Sheepdog”.

The commander of the 3rd Battalion goes by the name “Lieutenant Colonel Jafo”.

The commander of the 4th Battalion goes by the name “Lieutenant Colonel Archangel”.

The commander of the 5th Battalion goes by the name “Lieutenant Colonel Reaper”.

SLIL commanders have been very active in state-wide, battalion, and company Facebook pages, though attention to certain battalions has certainly been higher than others. In fact, most of the discussions for the organization have happened in spaces delegated for the use of the 1st Battalion and its 3 companies.

The division of communications channels obviously led to significant confusion among members and commanders alike as they tried to discuss militia affairs. This led to the disparate facebook groups of the 1st Battalion merging into a single 1st Battalion page. The 1st Battalion is by far the most active from among the SLIL, which is likely why TooTall has made himself a Colonel instead of a Lieutenant Colonel like his other comrades in charge.

An interesting thing that SLIL does for its members is the creation of identification cards. These cards include not only the battalion and company ID of members (in this case, 2nd Bravo), but also the brigade (in this case Northern). SLIL used to be organized in brigades on Facebook before being reorganized into battalion pages. This also seems to be the case for the militia overall, as there is evidence of both Central and Northern Illinois Sons of Liberty chapters existing for years before being simultaneously dropped. All official channels now instead only reference battalions.

Two SLIL members at an FTX

These ID cards are also interesting in that they include qualification levels for certain militia skills. That these are divided into categories like “Pistol”/ “Rifle” and “CPR”/”First Aid” indicates that SLIL’s programming is a bit lighter than some of the other militias that have been written about on MilitiaWatch. Though it may be difficult to add qualifications on skills having to do with Constitutional knowledge or community service work, these previous four designations (“Pistol”, &c.) read more like video game character stats than a comprehensive skills list.

These cards were likely created to instead foster a personal bond with the militia and the organization by putting a member’s face on an official document they can then show to other members. The qualifications are likely to encourage members to attend field training exercises (FTX) and stay committed to the militia’s work.

The SLIL, like many militias, has a page for soliciting donations from website visitors. In addition to accepting Paypal and credit card donations, they ask for supplies, including camping gear, military gear, and firearms. There are a few other items described, but just in case, the page’s author adds they seek donations of “Anything else you feel may help support our mission”.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store