Skip to main content

Two years after the infamous January 6, 2021 invasion of Capitol Hill by Trump-supporting bigots, the second trial of four Oath Keeper militia members ended in verdicts of guilt for seditious conspiracy.  In the first trial, Oath Keepers boss Stewart Rhodes and Florida bigwig Kelly Megs were convicted of seditious conspiracy, and three members escaped the ultimate verdict, although they did not go completely free.

Joseph Minuta, an Oath Keeper from New Jersey; Joseph Hackett, an Oath Keepers recruiter from Florida; David Moerschel from Florida; and Edward Vallejo, an Arizona-based member of a “Quick Response Team” who sat in Virginia hotel during the Capitol riot, were all convicted of seditious conspiracy. All four were also convicted of “obstructing Congress.”

Edward Vallejo bring bins into a Virginia Comfort Inn on January 6, 2021 (left) and attends the Crossroads Gun Show in Phoenix in December 2021 (right) (Source: Homefront Battle Buddies)

Brian Ulrich from Georgia and Joshua James from Alabama pled guilty to seditious conspiracy charges in April 2022.

Prior to the verdicts, the Oath Keepers 38,000 members had spread its militia message throughout the gunners and far right movement.  The National Rifle Association added an Oath Keepers member, Donald Bradway, to its Board of Directors in August 2021.  Indeed, 70 Oath Keepers members are NRA-certified firearms instructors, according to Rolling Stone magazine.   The ADL found that there were 373 Oath Keepers who were active in law enforcement, 117 active military members and 81 who were pubic officials or running for office in 2020.

What will happen to them? A few may decide that their self-possessed conservativism has led them into an outfit whose leadership was anything but lawful and wanted change, not conservation. More might go over to organizations like the Constitutional Sheriffs and Police Officers Association, in an attempt to maintain the façade of constitutional obligation.   And others might go to one of the many explicitly white nationalist shops.  The end result will likely be a growth and further radicalization of the white-world.

In the end, the string of defeats in the courts has definitely weakened the Oath Keepers and will possibly hurt the Proud Boys.  But the broader far right, led in part by explicitly white nationalist organizations and individuals, has continued to grow.  For example, at the time of the Oath Keepers verdict, Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist known for his leadership of the annual America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) created a Twitter account. Within less than a day he had 130,000 followers, before he was shut down again for spewing antisemitism.  Nevertheless, the number and that speed is larger and faster than at any point in the last 40 years.

The momentum built by this movement will not abate on its own. They must be fought by everyone, not just the courts!

Leonard Zeskind

Author Leonard Zeskind

is founder of IREHR. For almost four decades, he has been a leading authority on white nationalist political and social movements. He is the author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream, published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in May 2009. [more..]

More posts by Leonard Zeskind