Oath Keepers Chief Stewart Rhodes Arrested in Jan. 6 Inquiry

On Election Day, the letter mentioned, Mr. Rhodes mentioned that an “trustworthy” depend of the votes might solely end in a victory for Mr. Trump and referred to as on members of his group to “top off on ammo” and put together for a “full-on struggle within the streets.”

Along with his distinctive black eye patch — the results of a gun accident — Mr. Rhodes has been a fixture on the far proper virtually from the day in 2009 that he introduced the creation of the Oath Keepers at a rally in Lexington, Mass., the positioning of a well-known Revolutionary Warfare battle.

On the occasion, Mr. Rhodes laid out an antigovernment platform for the present and former regulation enforcement and navy personnel who joined his group, saying that his plan was for members to disobey sure unlawful orders from officers and as an alternative to uphold their oath to the Structure.

Throughout the Obama administration, the Oath Keepers repeatedly inserted themselves into distinguished public conflicts, typically enjoying the position of closely armed vigilantes. In 2014, as an illustration, they turned up at a cattle ranch in Nevada after its proprietor, Cliven Bundy, engaged in an armed standoff with federal land administration officers. That very same yr, members of the group went to Ferguson, Mo., on a self-appointed mission to protect local businesses from riots prompted by the demise of Michael Brown, a Black man who was shot by the police.

After Mr. Trump took workplace, Mr. Rhodes and the Oath Keepers pivoted away from their antigovernment views and appeared to embrace the brand new spirit of nationalism and suspicions of a deep-state conspiracy that had taken root amongst among the president’s supporters. Like different far-right teams such because the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers additionally opposed — typically bodily — the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted in 2020 within the wake of the homicide of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis.

In response to the indictment, Mr. Rhodes turned extra severe about stopping Mr. Biden from assuming workplace in early January, the identical month he started spending 1000’s of {dollars} on military-grade firearms, ammunition and different tactical gear. Prosecutors haven’t accused him of bringing any weapons to Washington on Jan. 6, however they mentioned that Mr. Vallejo and different members of the armed response pressure outdoors town mentioned the potential for “armed battle” and “guerrilla struggle.”

Mr. Rhodes appeared to relish the chaos on the Capitol on Jan. 6, prosecutors mentioned. The indictment famous that shortly after 3 p.m. that day, a member of his Sign group chat despatched him a message saying that members of Congress had been “given gasoline masks and are attempting to get out.” Mr. Rhodes was mentioned to have responded with a dismissive obscenity.

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