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The Trump-Allied Militias Behind the Insurrection

William J. Walker, Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard, testified before a Senate committee hearing last week that the official request for federal support during the Capitol insurrection occurred three hours and 19 minutes after Capitol police’s initial request for support.

Walker also noted that the Department of Defense considered the stationing of guards to be a potential aggravator among any protestors who might travel to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Walker named Gen. Charles Flynn as one figure present during deliberations over DOD’s response. Flynn is the brother of the former president’s top national security confidant Michael Flynn, who played a key role in uniting religious and Q-aligned forces, raising even more concerns about the role of militias and Trump allies in the dearth of federal response to the insurrection.

Thomas Caldwell, a Navy veteran, recounts the breach of police lines at the U.S. Capitol when the “Proud Boys scuffled with cops” alongside other extremist groups, leading Capitol police officers on scene to inform the police headquarters that the planned protests were “now effectively a riot.”

In the weeks since then, federal investigators have opened 257 Capitol-related cases against aggravators from over 40 states and the District of Columbia, with Florida as one of just four states with at least 17 open cases.

A report produced by ACLED and MilitiaWatch in October 2020 warned that the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys are among multiple right-wing militias that “have steadily ramped up their activities” every election cycle. The same report concludes that militias have found unity in “identities and politics under the Trump administration.”

Caldwell, a self-proclaimed Oath Keepers leader, was charged alongside fellow collaborators Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl according to court filings that allege the extremists were conspiring with organized militia groups identified at the steps of the Capitol just before it was breached. One Facebook message provided as evidence by the FBI from an unnamed source informs Caldwell that “all members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas.”

The trio also organized the Million MAGA March in Washington on Nov. 23 under the “Stop the Steal” banner. Caldwell later recounted the immense coordination of their plans to Watkins, documenting that the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters—also present on Nov. 23—waited for the street-brawling of the Proud Boys to occupy police so the rest of the mob could overwhelm security defenses.

In a December 2020 report, ACLED notes that 18% of Stop the Steal demonstrations contained  armed militia activity as part and parcel of protests against Congress’s certification.

Trump’s close confidant Roger Stone described far-right organizer Ali Alexander as a “friend.” Alexander is the Stop the Steal leader who proclaimed to a crowd of Trump supporters at a Dec. 19 rally that the plan was “to convince them to not certify the vote on Jan. 6 by marching hundreds of thousands, if not millions of patriots.”

The night of Jan. 5, Proud Boys filmed Alexander wearing a “blaze orange” beanie leading a chant to the tune of “victory or death!” flanked by a banner with “Martial Law Now” bolded behind him. Alexander was referencing the plan that Trump mega-donor and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell allegedly brought to the West Wing.

At the same rally, which was also attended by Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, Alexander described their efforts as a “rebellion” and stated that “1776 is always an option,” a sentiment echoed the following morning by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Col., just before the electoral certification.

As the protesters overwhelmed Capitol police on Jan. 6th, Alexander emphatically proclaimed “I don’t disavow this, I don’t denounce this.”

An investigation by the Wall Street Journal documents how the Proud Boys were operating a tactical assault, marching from the staging area a block east of the Capitol, providing the frontline defense against Capitol police and directing the crowd into the compound.

Joe Biggs was arrested in Florida earlier this month where the FBI confirmed he was a lead tactician of the assault and one of the first members to enter the Capitol.

Biggs, along with numerous other Proud Boys members, carried two-way devices during the siege. Their sophisticated communication, combined with the presence of zip-ties, shows the immense coordination in the Proud Boys’ attempts to assassinate former Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Biggs and at least five other Proud Boys members have now been charged by federal officials in connection to the Capitol attack, leading to search warrants on members living on the West Coast.

As the arrests of Crowl and collaborators show, federal investigations are not limiting themselves to the Canadian-designated terrorist organization the Proud Boys. Another pair of Oath Keepers, Rob Minuta and Joshua James, were recently arrested by federal authorities. Minuta has been identified as a former member of Stone’s security detail, a role he also played for both Michael Flynn and notable conspiracist Alex Jones.

Following the recent Senate trial determining that Trump did not commit “incitement to insurrection,” the actions that occurred at the Capitol remain illegal, and Alexander remains in hiding.

Federal investigators hope to quickly unravel the full extent of the conspiracy behind the insurrection, holding accountable all who vandalized, stole and threatened.

Featured image: Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Unmodified image by TapTheForwardAssist used under a Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/2Nf0JjC)

Check out other recent articles from the Florida Political Review here.        

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