Rolling Stone

Oath Keepers


Founded: In 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, a former Army paratroope­r and Yale Law-educated attorney, who lost his eye in a handgun accident. Through the Obama years, the group’s membership grew into the tens of thousands.

Core beliefs: The Oath Keepers tout themselves as guardians of the constituti­onal order against what they perceive as encroachin­g federal tyranny. They recruit heavily among veterans and law-enforcemen­t personnel, appealing to their vow to protect the country against “all enemies foreign and domestic.”

The organizati­on is “very conspirato­rial in their outlook,” says Kriner. Its multipart oath includes fever-dream promises to defend cities from being turned into interment camps. “We will not obey any order to detain American citizens as ‘unlawful enemy combatants,’ ” reads another, “or to subject them to trial by military tribunal.”

Approach to violence: On a surface level, the Oath Keepers orientatio­n is defensive, even as many members spoil for a fight. “They’re going to try to look for moral high ground,” Kriner says, “and say ‘We were pushed to a point that we no longer could avoid violence.’ ”

Prominent adherents: A leaked roster of 38,000 Oath Keepers revealed that many sheriffs, police

officers, and even some elected officials signed up for the group.

Key moments: Oath Keepers showed up in force at the 2014 standoff at Bundy Ranch in southern Nevada, in defense of a notorious anti-government cattleman who refused to pay federal grazing fees. They also manned rooftops during the Ferguson uprising in Missouri in 2014, purporting to protect property owners from looters.

Jan. 6 connection: Many Oath Keepers have been charged for storming the Capitol in tactical gear to disrupt the count by the Electoral College. Rhodes and nearly a dozen other Oath Keepers have been charged with seditious conspiracy to block the peaceful transfer of power by force. These Oath Keepers allegedly stockpiled weapons across the river in Virginia on Jan. 6 — eager for Donald Trump to invoke the Insurrecti­on Act and call them into a “bloody” battle against the president’s enemies.

 ?? ?? The Oath Keepers fear the government could turn cities into interment camps.
The Oath Keepers fear the government could turn cities into interment camps.
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