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The protests demanding justice for George Floyd, and an end to police racism, have mobilized people across the country. As these protests have unfolded, nationalist militias, boogaloo boys, and other far-right and racist activists have inserted themselves into the protests in various ways in dozens of instances across the country. The volatility of this far-right activism became apparent when three boogaloo boys were arrested yesterday in Las Vegas, Nevada on federal and state explosives and terrorism charges in connection to an apparent attempt to spark violence at a protest.[1]

In this fluid context, IREHR has found evidence that militia activists mobilizing around the protests have gained support and alliances with law enforcement officers in several states. This has occurred specifically as paramilitary activists have attempted to assume quasi-security roles vis-a-vis protests in Texas, Utah, and Washington State.

The Texas Constable and the Oath Keepers

John D. Shirley is a constable for Precinct 2 in southern Hood County, Texas, a county of some 51,000 people just southwest of Fort Worth. Under the Texas State Constitution, the constable is a law enforcement position elected every four years. Constables are authorized to appoint deputies and to engage in a number of enforcement activities, including “arrest without warrant for felonies or offenses against public peace committed in his view.”[2]

Oath Keeper and Hood County, Texas Constable John D. Shirley

John Shirley is also a member of the Board of Directors of Oath Keepers, the far-right nationalist paramilitary organization that has promoted anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim bigotry and mobilized during several armed confrontations with the federal government over public lands issues.

On May 30, Constable John D. Shirley injected his group into the racial justice protests, issuing a “Call to Action” on behalf of a Dallas salon owner who “has authorized Oath Keepers to provide security for her property.”[3] The salon owner had previously defied Gov. Greg Abbot’s restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, an action Oath Keepers had supported.[4]

Also on May 30, Oath Keepers tweeted out a short video of a heavily armed, camo-clad, individual outside of the salon. As the Oath Keeper explained,

“We’ve got the cooperation of the local law enforcement; they are glad we are here. And this is the Oath Keepers national, not just any of your little local militias. Patriots here, veterans, we have some firefighters, from law enforcement, that are…helping us, volunteering.”[5]

As Oath Keepers mobilized on the ground, the group’s leaders proposed contradictory responses to the protests. Most publicly, the national Oath Keepers took a nominally critical stance toward Donald Trump for tweeting on May 28 that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Oath Keepers argued that while shooting may be justified for arson, which is “a lethal force,” it is not justified for non-lethal looting.[6]

Conversely, Jeff Hill, Administrator for a private Oath Keeper’s Facebook page would write, “Anyone caught looting should be shot.” Other members of the private Oath Keepers page responded in kind, with Hill “liking” their calls for bloodshed.[7] Constable John D. Shirley announced his call for armed security at the Dallas salon in the same private group.[8]

On May 31, Jeff Hill followed up with a story about a truck driver driving into a crowd of protesters with, “He should have made some pancakes out of them!”[9] In the wake of President Donald Trump’s May 31 tweet announcing intentions to declare antifa (anti-fascists) a terrorist organization, Constable Shirley cut loose, writing, “We are now in a Global War on Antifa.”[10]

Even as they vacillated about shooting looters, and persistently feign to be non-racist, Oath Keepers tweeted several “news” stories about the protests by Cassandra Fairbanks, an active participant in the white nationalist-led “groyper” mobilization.[11] Members of the same Oath Keepers Facebook group in which Constable Shirley made his call-to-action have espoused the far-right anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jewish philanthropist George Soros is behind the protests. One member even dredged up the long-standing anti-Semitic canard that a “House of Rothschild” conspiracy lay behind the “RIOTERS,,,ANTIFA,,,GEORGE SOROS,,,BILL GATES,,,PELOSI,,,THE W.H.O., THE U.N., and the rest of the SCUMBAGS trying to get us FIGHTING EACHOTHER (sic)???”[12]

Three Percenters – Original and the Salt Lake City Police

If Oath Keeper John D. Shirley provides an example of a law officer’s direct involvement in a paramilitary group, another case involves a police department that appears to have coordinated its activity closely with militia members. Last weekend, the Three Percenters – Original claimed that their Utah chapter helped police “set up a defensive perimeter around the SPLD Emergency Command Post.” According to the group, “The Utah Chapter held this perimeter against the rioters from Saturday afternoon, through the night and into Sunday.” The national group posted an image of the police with an apparent Utah Three Percenters – Original member, their faces blurred in a seeming attempt to mask their identities.[13]



On June 1, Three Percenters – Original announced, “OUR MEMBERS ARE CHOMPING AT THE BIT TO PROTECT BUSINESSES FROM RIOTERS! Please contact us ASAP if your business is in need of protection. Even better, join our Forum at”[14]

In addition to relying heavily on the right-wing Breitbart News for information, Three Percenters – Original also promotes the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that George Soros lurks behind the protests in a plot with “RADICAL LEFTISTS GROUPS…TO DESTROY AND WREAK HAVOC ACROSS THIS NATION IN ORDER TO CREATE A RACE WAR BEFORE THE ELECTION” [capitals in original] :[15]

The North Cascade Patriots and the Marysville Police

On June 1, Jeff Colter of Stanwood, Washington was photographed standing between two smiling Marysville police officers with his AR-15. More than an affectation, Colter’s gun-wielding that day was an outgrowth of his role as founder of the North Cascade Patriots (NCP), a group that bears the moniker “Christian Militia” on its 3,376 member Facebook group.[16]

North Cascade Patriots Founder Jeff Colter (center) with Marysville, Washington Police Officers

Jeff Colter is also an online member of the 5,598 member Washington State Militia private Facebook group, a site on which he described being in downtown Marysville to “defend local businesses” at a site where there had been an “Opeen (sic) Washington group meeting” – again, as in the Oath Keepers case, linking the mobilization to the politics of previous “reopen” actions. Colter described that “Business owners and police were very supportive and appreciative of our presence.”[17]

In the Christian nationalist vernacular common in the militia sphere, the North Cascade Patriots describes itself as “a Christian based open forum for…God-fearing patriots who believe in the Constructionist Doctrine of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.”[18] Stressing the common 2nd Amendment frame that “We believe ‘Guns’ were the means by which our ‘Life’ and ‘Liberty’ were secured and continues to be maintained,” the group continues that,

“NCP also recognizes the importance of Dr. Michael Savage’s ideology of securing our borders, English as the official language, and preserving our Judeo-Christian heritage in our culture.”[19]

A rabid anti-Muslim bigot who calls the Koran a “book of hate” and advocates deporting Muslims, radio personality Michael Savage has also disparaged homosexuals and Latinos and calls for “no new immigrants.”[20] Additionally, Savage has promoted the idea of “cultural genocide being promulgated against Caucasians.” This view is widespread in white nationalist circles as the Great Replacement Theory and has been associated with mass shootings carried out in El Paso, Texas in August 2019 and New Zealand in March 2019.[21]

In keeping with Savage’s views, and despite the declaration that “NCP will not discriminate on the basis of sex, race or religion,” the group specifically bars Muslims from membership:

“[A]lthough we know there are many decent, law abiding Muslims, we do not think their religion is compatible with the beliefs the vast majority of members will have. Therefore, it is regretful to say, Muslims are not allowed.”[22]

Also, “NCP proudly supports the Oath Keepers organization,” the group declares. “NCP is also a network for people who live in the general vicinity to form a Militia if and when the time might arise; specifically, in Snohomish County, WA, our present location.”[23]

Jeff Colter is himself an advocate of the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that George Soros lurks behind antifa and Black Lives Matter. Colter also holds that the Jewish philanthropist should be shot:[24]

On the Washington State Militia Facebook page, Jeff Colter reiterated the conspiracy theory and again called for the murder of George Soros:[25]

Colter also promotes the conspiracy theory that “#COVID-19 was planned to take down Trump/Economy and force a new trade deal.”[26]

In keeping with such conspiracy theories and blood lust, following Donald Trump’s authoritarian call to declare antifa a terrorist organization, Colter wrote, “It’s about damn time ANTIFA is designated as a terrorist organization. Should have been done long ago. BLM should be next.”[27] That same day Colter advocated violence against anti-fascists and Black Lives Matter; he had previously called for all “rioters and looters” to “be shot on sight.”[28]


Texas, Utah, and Washington are not the only states to experience this problem. As this article goes to press, an Orange County, California Sheriff’s deputy has been placed on administrative leave for wearing the patches of both Oath Keepers and Three Percenters.[29]

American trust in police has been shaken to the core in the wake of the recorded murder of George Floyd and repeated instances of police violence against peaceful protesters. This distrust can only be exacerbated by police alliances with far-right militias that promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, espouse bigotry toward Muslims and immigrants, advocate shooting people for looting, and, in the case of Jeff Colter, openly call for the murder of a prominent Jewish philanthropist.

Even basic self-interest suggests law enforcement should stay far away from these groups, as members have killed many police officers.[30] As recently as May 21, 2020, a militia leader was arrested in a plot to kidnap and kill cops to attract new followers.[31]

It should go without saying that police should in no way associate with far-right militias. If trust is to be regained, law officers in Nevada, Texas, Washington State and beyond must speak out strongly and end these relationships with nationalist paramilitaries.



[1] Price, Michelle L. and Scott Sonner. Prosecutors: Three men plotted to terrorize Vegas protests. Washington Post. June 3, 2020.

[2] See Texas Legislative Council. Texas Constitution.; Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Title 1. Chapter 2.; Texas  Code of Criminal Procedure. Article 14.02.; Hood County. About Your Constable. Accessed June 3, 2020.

[3] Shirley, John D. Oath Keepers. Facebook. May 28, 2020.

[4] McNamara, Audrey. Salon owner released from jail after Texas governor changes coronavirus orders. Newsweek. May 8, 2020.; Shirley, John D. Facebook. May 5, 2020.

[5] Oath Keepers. Twitter. May 30, 2020.

[6] Oath Keepers. Facebook. May 30, 2020.

[7] Hill, Jeff. Oath Keepers. Facebook. May 30, 2020.

[8] Shirley, John D. Oath Keepers. Facebook. May 30, 2020.

[9] Hill, Jeff. Oath Keepers. Facebook. May 31, 2020.

[10] Shirley, John D. Oath Keepers. May 31, 2020.

[11] Oath Keepers. Twitter. May 28, 2020.

[12] See Yoos, Robert. Oath Keepers. June 1, 2020.; Morray, Andrew. Oath Keepers. May 31, 2020.

[13] Three Percenters – Original. Facebook. June 2, 2020.

[14] Three Percenters – Original. Facebook. June 1, 2020.

[15] Three Percenters – Original. Facebook. June 1, 2020.

[16] North Cascade Patriots. Facebook. Members.; North Cascade Patriots. Facebook; North Cascade Patriots. About. Accessed June 4, 2020.

[17] Colter, Jeff. Facebook. June 1, 2020.

[18] North Cascade Patriots. About. Accessed June 4, 2020.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Bay City News Service. Video group sues Michael Savage. The Daily Journal. May 14, 2008.; Brave New Films. Michael Savage Hates Muslims. January 17, 2018.; Jackson, Camille. Michael Savage Brings Bigotry and Anti-Semitism to the Airwaves. Southern Poverty Law Center. April 20, 2002.; Peters, Jeremy. Michael Savage Has Doubts About Trump. His Conservative Radio Audience Does Not. New York Times. June 28, 2019.

[21] Janik, Rachel. Michael Savage promotes white nationalist conspiracy theory on his radio show, wins praise from racist author. Southern Poverty Law Center. February 1, 2028.

[22] North Cascade Patriots. About. Accessed June 4, 2020.

[23] North Cascade Patriots. About. Accessed June 4, 2020.

[24] Colter, Jeff. Facebook. May 29, 2020.

[25] Colter, Jeff. Washington State Militia. June 1, 2020.

[26] Colter, Jeff. Facebook. May 28, 2020.

[27] Colter, Jeff. Facebook. May 31, 2020.

[28] Colter, Jeff. Facebook. May 31, 2020.; Colter, Jeff. Facebook. May 31, 2020.

[29] ABC News 7. Videos show Orange County deputy wearing militia symbols during protest. June 4, 2020.

[30] Hodges, Raven and Sommerstein, Adam, “$2 law Enforcement officers Murdered by Domestic Extremists Since 2005.” Southern Poverty Law Center. September 27, 2018.

[31] Sommer, Will, “Militia Leader Plotted to Kidnap and Kill Cops to Win New Followers, Feds Say.” Daily Beast. May 21, 2020.

Chuck Tanner and Devin Burghart

Author Chuck Tanner and Devin Burghart

Chuck Tanner is IREHR's research director. Devin Burghart is the executive director of IREHR.

More posts by Chuck Tanner and Devin Burghart