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The Kitsap Patriots Tea Party (KPTP) is rebranding itself and looking to expand its geographic scope in 2020. On December 30, 2019 the group posted on Facebook that “in order to further our mission as a regional organization, Kitsap Patriots Tea Party is transitioning its name to Puget Sound Patriots.” The group described that its focus in the coming year will be “to increase outreach and activism throughout West Puget Sound to elect conservative candidates and educate voters.”

The logo of the Puget Sound Patriots, formerly the Kitsap Patriots Tea Party

Despite the name change and expansion plans, the Puget Sound Patriots continue to promote the same far right and bigoted politics as KPTP. This is clear in their ongoing and full-throated defense of Washington State Representative Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley). Shea is a Christian nationalist and anti-Muslim bigot whose advocacy of paramilitary organizing led him to promote “three armed conflicts of political violence against the United States” from 2014 to 2016 in the words of a report commissioned by the Washington State House of Representatives.

Now PSP President Johnny Walker at a 2017 KPTP Meeting with Matt Shea

In response to the state Republican Party suspending Shea from its caucus in the wake of the report, the now-Puget Sound Patriots issued an “Official Statement” on December 24 declaring that “we stand in support of Rep Matt Shea;” calling Shea a “highly respected conservative,” and declaring that “Representative Shea should be immediately and fully reinstated.”

On January 13, the group issued a statement that “calls upon the full membership, Washington State House Republicans, to censure and remove Rep. Wilcox from leadership…Stand by Rep. Matt Shea.” House Minority Leader Wilcox (R-Yelm) played a lead role in suspending Shea from the party’s caucus and removing him from House committees.

In early December 2019 IREHR and Kitsap Showing Up for Racial Justice (Kitsap SURJ) released a report titled Threats to a Welcoming Kitsap: Xenophobia, Racism and White Nationalism in Kitsap County. The report detailed KPTP’s relationship with Shea as well as the legislator’s anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ politics and support for Christian nationalist paramilitarism and secession. The report also detailed KPTP’s own history of distorting facts about immigrants, organizing against transgender and labor rights, and providing a platform in the community for anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ bigots as well as organizations that have opposed inherent tribal sovereignty.

By all counts, we can expect this same brand of politics from the Puget Sound Patriots. IREHR and Kitsap SURJ will continue to keep community members informed of the group’s activities.

Chuck Tanner

Author Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner is an Advisory Board member and researcher for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. He lives in Washington State where he researches and works to counter white nationalism and the anti-Indian and other far right social movements.

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