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“America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.”

President James Madison

As covered in the two previous Ark Valley Voice  Modern Militia Movement articles, all of the historical necessities for a “well-regulated militia” have been met through modern professional police forces and the National Guard. The question becomes: what might be the purpose of the modern militia movement?

As Madison wrote in the  Federalist 41, and as former Marine Corps General James Mattis emphatically cautioned last week in regards to President Trump’s wish to use military forces against protesters, America divided is not as strong as America united. This same principle can be applied to the expanding militias in the current “patriot” movement.

An effigy of Gov. Andy Beshear was hanged from a tree outside KY Capitol. Louisville Courier Journal.

A recent Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) report identified twelve anti-government and militia groups operating in Colorado.  Ark Valley Voice research into the groups found in the report was insignificant except for several related to the Three Percenters.

More importantly, Ark Valley Voice research revealed that fully one-quarter of the 12  Colorado groups in the report identify with the Three Percenter (III%) Militia movement.

When researching these groups’ social media profiles, Ark Valley Voice discovered 11 Colorado Facebook groups or pages devoted to the Three Percenters. These groups totaled more than, 11,700 members or followers. Accounting for duplicate subgroup membership, the total is just over 9,500 member followers.

What’s more, 420 members have joined the III% Militia in just the last 30 days, coinciding with the social justice protests going on across the country. Even though these numbers are not shocking by Facebook standards, disturbing recent events, and lack of any moral foundation in these groups should concern most Coloradans.

As suggested in the previous Militia article, Three Percenter members have been increasingly involved in violent acts throughout the nation, particularly in rural areas. To better understand this, Ark Valley Voice examined both their history and current trends.

The Three Percenters was founded in 2008 under the false claim that only three percent of colonists fought against the British in The Revolutionary War.  A 2017 article from The Observer explains why this myth is not true.

Armed protesters demonstrate against COVID-19 lockdown at Michigan Capital. Image The Guardian.

Unlike many wars since the colonial time, the Revolutionary War was not just fought by a standing land army: state militias played a significant part.  Noted historian John Ferling found that the Continental Army was much closer to 100,000 soldiers, not including the militia.

Adding the state militia would have doubled that number, and if you added the African American regiments the numbers go even higher. Tures’ research could not find an exact number, but most records and estimates placed the number of colonists fighting the British closer to 375,000 equaling 15 percent of the population at the time. By comparison in today’s military, less than 0.5 percent of the population is serving.

Tures’ conclusion appropriately highlights the colonists’ participation. “It’s worth noting that even six percent is considered a very sizable number of the population… [and] evidence shows that the war was very popular among Americans… service in Washington’s forces was something to be proud of, not something to be ashamed of, as some on the fringes would lead us to believe.”

Baseing his militia on such a hollow claim, it’s also no wonder the III% group’s cofounder, Michael Vanderboegh, was well known for promulgating conspiracies and acts of violence. In the wake of the 1993 Waco, Texas standoff between the ATF and Branch Davidians, co-founder Vanderboegh wrote about using “snipers who could target secret police, and militia watchdogs” in his call to arms document, “Strategy and Tactics for a Militia Civil War.”

After briefly  “helping” the anti-immigration groups and U.S. Border Patrol round up illegal immigrants in the early 2000s, Vanderboegh mostly guided the group online and in the airwaves. Among some of his most incendiary actions were:

  • “In 2010, after Congress passed the health care reform bill, Vanderboegh urged right-thinking citizens to heave bricks through the window of Democratic offices.” Later he told The Washington Post it was, “a moral duty to warn people.”
  • In a November 6, 2012 “Vote” blog post, Vanderboegh fortuned, “At least later on you can say you tried everything else before you were forced to shoot people in righteous self-defense of life and liberty.”
  • In 2011, Three Percenter members began to follow through with Vanderboegh’s commands, if not directly, when four members were charged in one of the FBI’s top domestic terrorism investigations where they had planned to assassinate public officials and attack cities with deadly ricin.
  • After that, Three Percenters played major roles in two high profile and tense standoffs with law enforcement. More recently, in 2019 the Oregon State Legislature shut down due to a threat from Three Percenters after they vowed to protect absentee Oregon State Republican legislators in a political stunt to stop a climate change vote.
  • Last month on May 24, 2020, the leader of a Three Percenter group in Kentucky hung a stuffed effigy of the Governor in a tree outside the state capitol.

Facebook profile image for 3 percenter Western Slope chapter.

The Three Percenter website, along with numerous Facebook “About Us” sections, belie any of the profound flaws identified in this article. In fact, the official Three Percenter website emphatically states they are “NOT” a militia and “NOT” anti-government. The website does, however, outline three ominous principles Three Percenters live by:

1. Moral Strength.

2. Physical Readiness.

3. No First Use of Force.

With a name that is based on mistruths, a co-founder who promoted violence at every turn, and a current membership becoming increasingly more violent, it is hard to see how the movement could gain or maintain credibility in the local community.  Which returns to this question:  what might be the purpose of the modern militia movement?