Skip to main content

Special Report

Ammon’s Army Marches On:

People’s Rights Network Membership Data, Fall 2021.

Despite deplatforming and legal problems, Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights network grew by 53% nationally in the last year.

Note: This IREHR special report is a follow-up to Ammon’s Army: Inside the Far-Right People’s Rights Network published last year by IREHR and the Montana Human Rights Network. For details about the origins and ideology of the group, please check out the original report. 

Special Report

Ammon's Army Marches On

People's Rights Network Membership Data, Fall 2021

A year ago, IREHR and the Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN) released Ammon’s Army: Inside the Far-Right People’s Rights Network, which first documented how the group headed by far-right paramilitary figure Ammon Bundy used politicization of the pandemic to build up a national membership base of 21,851 and a cadre of 153 on-the-ground activists in thirteen states.

One year later, the People’s Rights network continues to expand, according to new IREHR data. This report examines the latest membership data on the People’s Rights network. Since the release of Ammon’s Army, the People’s Rights network increased its national membership by 53% to 33,431 members in the last year.[1] Moreover, the group’s official activist base grew by more than 160% to 398 activists in 38 states.


Members - Fall 2021


Percentage Increase


Area Leaders

People’s Rights Membership Growth

Beyond the overall expansion to more than 30,000 members across the country, other significant patterns emerged in IREHR’s examination of People’s Rights network membership data. As Table 1 shows, the states with the ten largest memberships are Washington (6,908), Oregon (5,544), Idaho (3,133), Utah (2,348), California (1,721), Florida (1,721) Colorado (1,306), Texas (1,142), Montana (952) and Arizona (895).

Table 1: People's Rights Network Membership by State

StateState MembersState PopulationMembers Per 10,000 Population
North Carolina35810,439,3880.34
New York30020,201,2490.15
New Jersey2919,288,9940.31
New Mexico1382,117,5220.65
North Dakota138779,0941.77
South Carolina725,118,4250.14
West Virginia671,793,7160.37
New Hampshire591,377,5290.43
South Dakota45886,6670.51
Rhode Island371,097,3790.34
Washington D.C.5705,7490.07

Table 1 also indicates that the presence of California, Texas, and Florida in the top ten is a likely product of the large populations in those states. Per capita membership provides a better measure of strength.  Idaho leads the way in this parameter with 17.0 members per 10,000 population. Oregon follows with 13.08 members per 10,000 population, trailed by Washington (9.965), Montana (8.780), Utah (7.1769), Colorado (2.26198), Nevada (1.7716), North Dakota (1.7729), and Wyoming (1.7682).

While People’s Rights has members in every state and the District of Columbia, it continues to be a predominantly western organization. Examining the data across the U.S. Census Bureau’s regional categories shows that western states account for 72.2% of the group’s overall membership. The western region also has the highest per capita membership, with members-per-10,000 counts 12.82 times that of the Northeast and 7.74 and 7.26 times that of the Midwest and South, respectively.

People’s Rights also showed the most overall growth in western states between September 2020 and August 2021, increasing from 14,696 to 24,141 members, or 64.27%. By contrast, People’s Rights grew by 39.17% in the South (3,598 to 5,007 members), 38.86% in the Northeast (1,109 to 1,540 members) and 11.85% in the Midwest (2,448 to 2,738 members).[2]

While these broad patterns in membership growth took place across regions, considerable variation existed from state to state. For example, growth ranged from a 293.48% increase in Nebraska (46 to 181 members) to a 53.88% decrease in Ohio (438 to 202 members). Overall, People’s Rights grew in size in 36 states and declined in 14 states.

Three states had membership increases of greater than 200% – Nebraska, North Dakota, and Missouri. In addition, people’s Rights network membership numbers increased by between 125% and 185 % in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Oregon, California, and Georgia.

Several of the top twenty People’s Rights percentage-growth increase states can be accounted for by an influx of new members into an only-incipiently-formed state chapter – i.e., growing from a starting point of fewer than 100 members. This pattern occurred in Nebraska, North Dakota, Vermont, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia.

Of more concern for its potential political impact, People’s Rights also saw considerable growth in several western states that already possessed 1,000 or more members by late 2020. This included a 170.84% increase in Oregon (2,047 to 5,544 members), and increases of 54.78% in Utah (1,517 to 2,348 members), 34.58% in Idaho (2,328 to 3,133 members), and 29.73% in Washington (5,325 to 6,908 members). The states with the largest decreases tended to be in the Midwest and South.

In some instances, rapid growth in certain parts of states led People’s Rights to reorganize its geographic landscape. For example, Area 5 in Central Oregon saw a 288% growth in membership (558 to 2,169 members) on the strength of COVID denial activism, leading to the breakup of Jefferson, Wheeler, Deschutes, and Crook counties into three separate areas (5A, 5B and 5C). In addition, areas in the state with less concentration of membership (Areas 4 and 6) were also subdivided. Similar subdivisions occurred in Idaho and Utah.[3]

Border Crossing

In a new development, the People’s Rights is now reporting Canadian membership. While the People’s Rights network’s so-called “constitutionalist” ideology centers on distorted interpretations of U.S. history and the Constitution, the group’s militant brand of COVID denial, combined with appeals to Christian nationalism, racism-denial, and a libertarian-esque nationalism, provide potential elements for transnational alliances. The People’s Rights network’s incursion into Canada also follows previous far-right paramilitary attempts by militia and three percenter groups to find supporters up north.

While People’s Rights has to date listed no official leadership in Canada, the group reports members in the provinces of Ontario (61), Alberta (10), British Columbia (20), Manitoba (1), New Brunswick (2), Newfoundland and Labrador (2), and Nova Scotia (2), and the territories of Nunavut (1) and Northwest Territories (1).

Building Out Leadership

Alongside the membership growth, the People’s Rights network continued to develop institutional leadership during the last year. Growth came from an increase in the number of Area Assistants and a flock of new leaders assigned to the newly created title of Field Assistant.

It should be noted, however, that this growth underestimates the full institutional development of the group. People’s Rights has also gained influential leaders through alliances with similarly-minded organizations and the emergence of volunteers. Both served educational/training and mobilization functions for the group.

Overall, People’s Rights grew nationally across this period from 153 Area Assistants to 384 Area Assistants and an additional 20 Field Assistants – leading to an overall 150.98% increase in the former and 160.13% in overall official assistants (See Table 2).[4] In addition, while 13 states had previously possessed Area Assistants, 38 states now do so.

Table 2: People's Rights Network Assistants by State

State Area Assistants 2020Area Assistants 2021Field Assistants 2021Total Assistants 2021
North Dakota2202
South Dakota0000
New Hampshire0101
New Jersey0000
New York0303
Rhode Island0000
North Carolina015015
South Carolina0202
West Virginia0000
New Mexico0404

Overall, 73.59% of the growth in Area Assistants, and 70.61% of overall Assistant growth, came from the development of local leadership in 25 states that had no leaders in 2020 – 173 total local leaders. The total number added by these states included 10 Field Assistants. Conversely, 61 new Area Assistants and 10 Field Assistants were added in those states with official leaders in 2020.

As with membership, Table 3 demonstrates that the People’s Rights network official leadership cadre is most developed in the West, with that region having 103 of 153 overall Area Assistants (67.32%) in 2020 and 215 of 384 (55.99%) in 2021. Following in descending order are the South (35 to 90 assistants), the Midwest (14 to 68), and the Northeast (1 to 11).

Table 3: People's Rights Network Assistants by Region

RegionArea Assistants 2020Area Assistants 2021Field Assistants 2021Total Asssistants 2021
Total 15338420398

As Table 3 also indicates, while the Northeast (1100%), Midwest (385.71%), and South (160.00%) all increased at a greater pace than the West (120.39%), the West added the most overall Assistants (124) compared to the South (56), Midwest (54) and Northeast (11). Of those states that had more than 10 Area Assistants in 2020, the most rapid growth was seen in Utah at 192.86% (14 to 42 assistants), Oregon at 87.5% (16 to 30 assistants), Idaho with 38.7% (31 to 43 assistants), and Washington at 25% (12 to 17 assistants). Conversely, Florida and Montana saw nominal decreases in the number of official leaders.

The group also continued the pattern of having significant leadership by women. As IREHR and MHRN reported in Ammon’s Army, 53% of the 153 area leaders appeared to identify as women. In addition, in the most recent data, 48.3% of the 358 Area and Field Assistants (175 of 358) that could be classified appear to identify as women.[5]

Another pattern visible in the data is that as the ranks of Area Assistants swelled, there was a decline in the number of Area Assistants taking on statewide roles. Such a pattern could be seen in Arkansas, California, Florida, Missouri, and Utah. In contrast, in Georgia, Boyd Parks and Field Searcy continue to be listed as Area Assistants for multiple areas.

Continuing Legal Problems

The continued growth of People’s Rights, an increase built largely on COVID denial activism, comes in the face of two significant obstacles. On the one hand, several People’s Rights leaders and activists have experienced legal problems that, in the not-so-distant past, might have derailed an organization’s ability to gain traction.

For instance, Idaho Area 2 assistants Sean and Sandra Anderson dropped from the group’s leadership roles in the wake of Sean’s sentence of 18 years in prison for his role in a 2020 shootout with police.[6] Likewise, Nevada People’s Rights state leader Joshua Martinez was arrested for alleged threats against a police detective and a county prosecutor.[7] In March, Washington State Area 4 Assistant Kelli Stewart was issued a trespass warrant for a confrontation at a Clark County hospital, according to People’s Rights.[8]

On top of this, People’s Rights member and organizational ally Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer is currently facing felony riot charges for his actions outside of a Portland pub in 2019. In July, Ammon Bundy was convicted of trespass and obstructing officers in connection to confrontations at the Idaho state capitol in 2020.[9] Most dramatically, in August, early People’s Rights activist Pam Hemphill was charged with disorderly conduct, entering a restricted building, and other violations in connection to her role in the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

This national growth also took place despite the organization’s many different Facebook groups being removed from the platform after the release of Ammon’s Army.

While People’s Rights maintains a presence on Facebook through posts on members’ personal pages and People’s Rights activists and supporters’ participation in other COVID denial Facebook groups, the loss of these forums ended its largest recruitment platform during the group’s first stage of growth.

People’s Rights has made up for this loss and continued its growth, building out an on-the-ground activist base and a communications infrastructure centered around an internal texting-based network and, in some instances, moving to platforms such as Telegram, Mewe, and Wimkin. For example, while the groups’ Mewe and Wimkin presence are minimal, on Telegram, People’s Rights Washington runs a channel with 1,359 subscribers and an active chat group of 558 members, and Florida People’s Rights activist Chris Nelson has 1,377 subscribers to his channel.

The group also communicates through its website, Slack, Ham radio, and old-fashioned telephone and walkie-talkie-based communications.

Despite the loss of its Facebook groups, the continued growth of the People’s Rights network makes clear that while deplatforming may be a necessary tactic in defeating far-right nationalist and anti-democratic movements, it is not enough. Instead, successfully turning back these threats to democracy requires that we build a social movement capable of both challenging institutionalized racial, gender, and economic inequality and countering organized far-right and white nationalist social movements.

In the end, the People’s Rights network continued growth signals that those who value human and civil rights must be vigilant, stand up and make our opposition to this far-right nationalist group known.


[1] Methodology: membership data collected by IREHR in August-September 2021 from People’s Rights network national internal membership site, Data collected from each state and area where available. There are likely individuals in the People’s Rights network overall membership not assigned to a state or area, but that data was not available to IREHR researchers.

[2] Washington D.C. is included in the overall calculation of People’s Rights members across the U.S. It is, however, excluded from specific analysis of percent change because it had 0 members in the 2020 analysis and 5 in 2021.

[3]Specific restructuring of People’s Rights Areas included Idaho: Part of Area 1S in Northern Part of the state becomes 12, 13,14,15 (Kootenai, Benewah and Shoshone counties); 3 in Southwestern part of the state becomes 9, 10 and 11 (Adams, Washington, Payette, Canyon); 4 in central ideaho devidied into 4 NW, 4SW, 4SE, 4NE (Ada, Elmore, Boise, VAlley Counties); Oregon: Area 5 divided into 5A, 5B and 5C (Jefferson, Wheeler, Deschutes and Crook counties); Area 6 divided into 6 (Klamath), 10 and 11 (Lake Couty); Area 4 divided into Areas 4,9,12 and 13 (Coos, Curry, Josephine and Douglas Counties); Utah: Area 1 divided into 12 and 13 (Box Elder and Tooele counties); 3 divided into 3A and 3B (Weber, Morgan, Davis and Salt Lake counties); Area 5 divided into 5A and 5B (Utah County); Area 7 expanded to take in San Juan county, which was formerly in Area 9.

[4] Total numbers and percentages are affected by some Area Assistants also serving as Field Assistants for some areas.

[5] This classification does not assume that gender is binary. However, given the generally anti-transgender nature of People’s Rights’ politics, it was assumed for analytical purposes that gender could be estimated by the use of the dominant associations of names with specific genders. Where this could not be determined based on investigator knowledge, was used to make a determination. Names assessed as gender neutral by this tool or investigator knowledge were excluded from this analysis.

[6] Associated Press. Idaho man convicted in shootout with police gets 18 years in prison. KTVB7. July 13, 2021.

[7] German, Jeff. Ammon Bundy ally arrested for alleged threats to law enforcement. Las Vegas Review-Journal. February 23, 2021.

[8] People’s Rights. “Probable Cause warrants signed by Clark County Sheriff’s dept, for Kelli Stewart, Satin Meyer, Patrick Morris and his 16 yr old son!.” People’s Rights Newsroom. March 28, 2021.

[9] Boone, Rebecca. “Ammon Bundy convicted in trespassing trial.” U.S. News & World Report. July 1, 2020.

Ammon's Army Marches On

People’s Rights Network Membership Data, Fall 2021

A Special Report of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights

Copyright © 2021. Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.