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Oathkeeper chief Stewart Rhodes arrested in January 6 inquest

On Election Day, according to the letter, Mr Rhodes said an ‘honest’ vote count could only lead to a victory for Mr Trump and called on members of his group to ‘stock up on ammunition ” and to prepare for an “all-out war in the streets.

Sporting his distinctive black eye patch – the result of an accident with a gun – Mr Rhodes has been a fixture on the far right almost since the day in 2009 he announced the creation of the Oath Keepers during a a rally in Lexington, Mass., the site of a famous Revolutionary War battle.

At the event, Mr Rhodes laid out an anti-government platform for current and former law enforcement and military personnel who joined his group, saying his plan was for members to disobey certain unlawful orders from officials and instead uphold their oath to the Constitution. .

During the Obama administration, the Oath Keepers repeatedly inserted themselves into significant public disputes, often playing the role of heavily armed vigilantes. In 2014, for example, they arrived at a cattle ranch in nevada after its owner, Cliven Bundy, engaged in an armed confrontation with federal land officials. That same year, the band members went to Ferguson, Mo., on a self-proclaimed mission to protect local businesses riots caused by the death of Michael Brown, a black man shot dead by the police.

After Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Rhodes and the Oath Keepers moved away from their anti-government views and seemed to embrace the new spirit of nationalism and suspicions of a deep state conspiracy that had taken root. among some of the president’s supporters. Like other far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers have also opposed – often physically – the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted in 2020 following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

According to the indictment, Mr. Rhodes got more serious about preventing Mr. Biden from taking office in early January, the same month he began spending thousands of dollars on guns, ammunition and other equipment. military-grade tactics. Prosecutors did not charge him with bringing weapons to Washington on Jan. 6, but they said Mr. Vallejo and other members of the out-of-town armed response force discussed the possibility of an “armed conflict” and a “guerrilla”.

Mr. Rhodes appeared to enjoy the chaos at the Capitol on Jan. 6, prosecutors said. The indictment noted that shortly after 3 p.m. that day, a member of his Signal group chat messaged him saying members of Congress had been given “gas masks and were trying to get out.” Mr. Rhodes reportedly responded with a dismissive obscenity.

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