US militia groups are paramilitary organizations that view the federal government as an existential threat to the rights and freedoms of Americans. They judge armed resistance to be necessary to preserve these rights.
The militia movement is decentralized, but it has two large followings—the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters. Both have members who justify the use of violence to counter perceived threats or violations to the US Constitution.
Two symbolic events for the movement are standoffs with federal agents in the early 1990s at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas. These confrontations provided the inspiration for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
THREAT TO NEW JERSEY: MODERATE
Militia extremists pose a moderate threat to New Jersey because of fundraising and recruitment efforts in the state, involvement in protests and standoffs across the United States, and their ability to coordinate and organize on a national scale. The Oath Keepers and Three Percenters have been actively recruiting in New Jersey since 2012.
- In September 2015, Jon Ritzheimer, a militia member from Phoenix, issued threats against Muslim Day at Six Flags in Ocean County. Militia members commented on his social media post, inciting violence and stating their intent to bomb Six Flags while Muslims were inside.
- In April 2015, Robert Doggart—a Christian minister and former US Congressional candidate from Tennessee—solicited the support of militia members from multiple states and planned an attack in Islamberg, New York—a predominantly Muslim community in the southern part of the state. The plot required that Doggart travel through New Jersey to reach his destination.
In 2016, militia members occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, near Burns, Oregon, for 41 days to protest the convictions of two Oregon ranchers for arson on federal land.
In November 2015, Ritzheimer posted a video of himself brandishing a gun and announcing plans to travel to Islamberg and “stop at every mosque along the way” to antagonize and intimidate Muslims.
Following the Paris attacks in November 2015, David Wright, a self-declared militia member, organized an armed protest outside a mosque in Irving, Texas where armed protesters intimidated and followed Muslims. Following the protest, Wright released the names and home addresses of local Muslims online and stated he would continue to do so in the future.
How many militia members are in New Jersey?
Other than fundraising and recruiting, what activities are militia members and supporters in New Jersey involved in?