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Far-right activists in southwestern Washington are mimicking the efforts of Michigan militia groups who helped turn a small-town barber into a martyr of the insurrection against COVID-19 safety precautions. This time, they want to use the case of a pet groomer to merge far-right hostility to COVID-19 restrictions with militia efforts to draw closer to law enforcement officers in this corner of Washington.

The group is rallying around Kelly Carroll, owner of a Vancouver dog grooming business that opened in defiance of state COVID-19 “Stay Home, Stay Safe” restrictions. Unlike the Michigan barber who had been cutting hair at his shop for “three generations,” Carroll’s business story has no such roots.

According to Carroll, she did not open the doors of her new pet grooming business, ThePetBiz, until March 18, as the pandemic was already raging in Washington. That same day, the state had 1,187 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 66 deaths.[1] Three days before Carroll chose to open, Governor Jay Inslee had already restricted public gatherings and closed placed of entertainment and recreation statewide.[2] Five days later, the statewide stay-at-home directive took effect.

Carroll confessed on the far-right conspiracy network InfoWARS that, by April, she had surreptitiously reopened in violation of state COVID-19 restrictions, soliciting business via Facebook. “I had my curtains shut and the open sign was not turned on,” Carroll admitted.[3]

Pet Biz Owner Kelly Carroll on InfoWars

Carroll turned to notorious local far-right figure and Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, who set out to make her a COVID-19 closure martyr. Gibson, who also lives in Vancouver, is the founder and driving force behind the violent far-right street protest group, Patriot Prayer. Gibson is currently awaiting trial on felony riot charges for his involvement in a May 1, 2019 Portland attack where a woman was beaten unconscious and her vertebrae broken.[4]

Gibson has been involved in fashioning this COVID-19 controversy from the beginning. During her May 15 appearance on InfoWARS to announce a rally and her “illegal” shop “grand opening,” Carroll let slip Gibson’s role in manufacturing the controversy.

It came down to one morning, I woke up just angry and I heard that voice from God that said you need to take a stand and be the patriot that you are, the strong woman that you are. So I got ahold of Joey Gibson. He was referred to me from my son. And I was shocked that he reached out to me right away. We had a discussion about this, and he knew that I was very serious and I wasn’t turning back. So we started to promote the fact that I was going to open. Tomorrow is what we’re calling a grand opening and hopefully, we’ll have hundreds show up.[5]

Gibson headlined the May 16 rally outside the dog grooming salon, which garnered local attention for Carroll’s “grand opening.”  As Carroll continued to operate the business in violation of the stay-at-home directive, on May 29, the Vancouver City Prosecutor filed charges against her, with a hearing date scheduled for July 16.

Carroll also let slip their real purpose for the protest, when she told InfoWARS she hoped her attorney (who is also Gibson’s attorney) will push “further out my court hearing until late September, October, right in the middle of all the political things that are going on, so that we can get our governor out of office and get the right governor in.”[6]

On June 20, Gibson and Carroll held another rally, this time on the steps of the Clark County Courthouse. Gibson opened up the rally echoing the “county supremacy” rhetoric of the Posse Comitatus of the 1970s and 1980s,

I don’t care about the politicians. I don’t care about, whatever, law enforcement. I don’t care about Jay Inslee. I don’t care about the Federal Government. This is our county! And we’re going to lay claim to it. Do you understand that? This is our county. This is our city!

Later in his talk, Gibson more fully embraced Posse rhetoric,

For those of you who don’t know, it is the Sheriff’s responsibility to protect the Constitution within his own county. Doesn’t matter if it’s within the city, right? Doesn’t matter if he has to protect us from this guy, the city council or any other law enforcement. That is his job. So we need to make sure he understands what his responsibility is.[7]

Gibson let slip the overall game plan for this manufactured conflict, “What we want to do is use their attack on us, to use their attack on Kelly to get people motivated. To flip it around on them, to get a movement going.”

Creating fear is part of the plan, according to Gibson. “We’ve got to put fear into their hearts so they don’t charge one more business owner. Not one. Not one. I talk about this all the time. They have to be afraid of us, guys,” he declared.

Another prominent speaker at the rally was Kelli Stewart of Peoples Rights of Washington, and a member of the online Three Percent of Washington group. Stewart opened up by declaring, “If we let this grandma go to jail for up to a year for opening her business, then anything, any blood we’ve ever shed on foreign soil was for nothing. It was for nothing.”

Kelli Stewart (center) with Patriot Prayer Leader Joey Gibson (right)

Stewart announced a June 22 rally in front of the Sheriff’s Department, where she announced they were going to demand that the Clark County Sheriff stand between Kelly Carroll and the Vancouver Police Department. Such demands were a common refrain from the Posse Comitatus.

Stewart also spent much of her speech warning against wearing masks during a pandemic and against vaccines. When asked by an audience member, “How do we tell businesses to stay strong?” and convince them not to require masks, Stewart replied, “You camp out on the street with signs that say ‘this business wants to kill me with their masks’ 24/7 and you shame them.”

Stewart went further down the anti-vaxxer conspiracy road, claiming that masks were part of a vaccination plot, “He is pimping panic on us right now, and he is grooming us for what is to come, which will be forced vaccinations.”

Stewart had previously revealed yet another inspiration for her organization in June when People’s Rights of Washington hosted a video-showing Krisanne Hall’s online Constitutional course.[8] Hall is a “constitutionalist” popular in Tea Party and militia circles. While Stewart goes to great length to case herself as a friend of liberty, Krisanne Hall actually promotes a radical assault on civil rights. Pet Biz owner Kelly Carrol also spoke at the Krisanne Hall event.[9]

Kelli Stewart Introduces Krisanne Hall “Constitutional Course”


Washington Three Percenters Enter the Fray

While Gibson is helping make Carroll a far-right cause celebre, members of the Three Percent of Washington private Facebook group, including Kelli Stewart, are mobilizing to press Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins to back their fight against COVID-19 restrictions.

In a post to the Washington Three Percenter’ Facebook group, supporters announced that after a face-to-face meeting was denied due to COVID-19 concerns, they will have a June 22 phone meeting with the Sheriff.[10]

The tone of the mobilization exhibits the form frequently shown by far rightists who seek to press law enforcement into their service – you’re on our side, until you’re not – then you’re guilty of treason.

An announcement of the meeting posted to the Three Percenter page by members Trina Visser and Wendy Morrow-Ivey,

“You’re invited to help us tell Sheriff Atkins what we expect of him as our elected Sheriff and that is to uphold and protect the constitutions! We have a letter ready to be read to Sherriff Atkins and demand that he either upholds the constitution or he needs to vacate his spot for someone who can protect their citizens [sic] rights.”[11]

Visser added,

“MONDAY IT IS…we will still go to the Sherriffs [sic] Office. We have an appointment to read our expectations to Sherriff Atkins and to see if he is willing to abide by the laws that govern him or if he wants to participate in treason. We want to ask if he will stand behind Pet Biz owner, summons last week and facing a year in jail for providing food for her family.”[12]

While small businesses, and especially working people, have faced hardships as a result of COVID-19 restrictions; and federal government loan and support policies have been wholly inadequate to address these issues; this particular mobilization is rooted in far-right politics.

First and foremost, its leaders are online members of the Three Percent of Washington who has promoted the effort in that far-right group’s online forum.

Though its founder, Matt Marshall, claims to have recently stepped down from the organization, he remains a Governor in state documents. In claiming to resign he also made clear that “I still 100% support their cause and mission. [13]

Under Marshall’s leadership, the group allied its cause with the violent racist reactionary Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer. Patriot Prayer leader, Joey Gibson, faces felony riot charges for his actions outside of a Portland pub in 2019. Gibson’s charges stem from an incident in which he violently shoved a woman and threatened others, according to court documents. Patriot Prayer figure, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, pled guilty to assault connected to his activity with the group. Marshall also aligned his group with Christian national paramilitary advocate Matt Shea, who, like the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer, is known for anti-Muslim politics.[14]

Threeper of Washington’s Craig Hanvey (left) and Founder Matt Marshall “chilling” with Proud Boys Chair Enrique Tarrio (center in back)

The Three Percent of Washington was also an early promoter of the violent Civil War II fantasy known as “the boogaloo.” In December 2019, the group portended “Boogaloo is near.”[15] Allegedly animated by the “boogaloo,” two men in Oakland were recently arrested in connection to the murder of a local law officer and a federal security officer in Oakland, California.[16] In early June, three self-identified “boogalooers” were arrested in Las Vegas for a plot to spark violence during protests there.[17]

An alliance with violence-prone and anti-Muslim groups like Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys, and anti-Muslim figures like Matt Shea, is in keeping with ideas expressed by Three Percent of Washington leader Craig Hanvey – listed as a founding member of the group’s board of directors and Assistant State Leader in the groups’ 2018 articles of incorporation.[18] In late December 2019, for instance, Hanvey posted a Facebook meme declaring “Kick Islam Out of America.”[19]

When Donald Trump tweeted an apparent call for a crackdown on the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, an area that activists have occupied to protest police violence, Hanvey declared “We Stand Read Mr. President.” Unchallenged commenters on his Facebook page were more to the point:

Wendy Morrow-Ivey and Trina Visser’s announcement of the mobilization also described that the “Letter delivery to Sheriff Atkins is “hosted by area 4 People’s Rights Washington,” the group run by Kelli Stewart.

As much as they wrap themselves in the Constitution, these far-right activists and their allies promote interpretations that would gut civil rights and trample on the idea of “justice for all.” They promote violence toward their political enemies. And they all-to-frequently ally their cause with various forms of bigotry. Law officers must make clear that they will not side with such groups.



[1]Seattle Times Staff, “Coronavirus daily news updates, March 18: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state, and the nation.” Seattle Times, March 18, 2020.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Video. The War Room With Owen Stroyer. InfoWARS. May 15, 2020.

[4] KOIN 6 News Staff. “Documents detail Joey Gibson’s felony riot charge.” KOIN 6 News. September 5, 2019.

[5] Video. The War Room With Owen Stroyer. InfoWARS. May 15, 2020.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Gibson, Joey. Video. Facebook. June 21, 2020.

[8] People’s Rights of Washington. Facebook. June 15, 2020.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Visser, Trina. Facebook. June 15, 2020.;

[11] Letter Delivery to Sheriff Atkins. Hosted by Trina Visser and Wendy Morrow-Ivey. Facebook.

[12] Visser, Trina. Facebook. June 15, 2020.

[13] Marshall, Matt. Facebook. June 6, 2020.; Three Percent of Washington. Articles of Incorporation. Washington State Office of the Secretary of State. September 27, 2019.

[14] Wilson, Conrad. Patriot Prayer’s Tusitala ‘Tiny’ Toese Pleads Guilty to Assault Charge. Oregon Public Broadcasting. January 12, 2020.; North Idaho Exposed. Hazardous Liberty. May 10, 2020.; KOIN 6 News Staff. Documents detail Joey Gibson’s felony riot charges. September 5, 2019.; For background on Matt Shea, see Institute for Research and Education on Human  Rights and Kitsap Showing Up for Racial Justice. Threats to a Welcoming Kitsap: Xenophobia, Racism and White Nationalism in Kitsap County. Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. December 5, 2019.

[15] 3% of Washington. Facebook. December 29, 2019.

[16] Dolan, Maura and Richard Hinton. Suspect in killing of two Bay Area officers tied to right-wing Boogaloo group, prosecutors allege. Los Angeles Times. June 16, 2020.

[17] Price, Michelle and Scot Sonner. Three men tied to boogaloo movement plotted to terrorize Las Vegas protests, officials say. June 4, 2020. ABC 7 Eyewitness News.

[18] Three Percent of Washington. Articles of Incorporation. September 21, 2018;

[19] Hanvey, Craig. Facebook. December 9, 2019.


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