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How concerned should we be about the militias after the attack on the US Capitol?

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Oath Keepers, a militia that stormed the U.S. Capitol last month, has members in Ohio. The same is true of many other anti-government groups that have penetrated national consciousness over the past year.

Ohio has the second-highest number of anti-government groups in America, with 31, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The center had 566 extreme anti-government groups, including 169 militias, active last year. Ohio had 31 groups (including 17 militias), after California, with 51. It was one of 11 states where the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer was located, and one of 14 states where the Boogaloo Bois groups were located. and peoples’ rights.

Last year, Ohio recorded 688 cases of political violence and protests, ranking 10th in the United States, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project.

Militias became more active during the coronavirus pandemic, as members demonstrated in the States, were accused of plotting to kidnap the governor of Michigan and, of course, storming the Capitol .

Still, members of some Ohio militias say they watched in horror at the rest of the country as crowds walked through government halls. They say their beliefs do not match the attempted coup.

So how concerned should we be about private organizations calling themselves militias?

It’s not like a militia is going to knock on your door and shoot your dog, said Hampton Stall, senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a nonprofit group that tracks political violence and that manifested internationally.

Stall does not think the national militias have reached the threat level of terrorist movements like Isis or Al Qaeda, but rather predicts that the militias might become more selective, focusing on members of the government, anti-gun efforts and Muslims.

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An October 2020 report from Project Armed Conflict tracked the activities of 80 U.S. militias and found that the groups had shifted from an anti-federal government to primarily supporting Trump, in an effort to preserve and promote an understanding limited and distorted American history and culture. .

A December report assessed the likelihood of a right-wing mobilization leading to violence, finding that militias create a greater risk of violence during protests.

Biggest stories of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19 restrictions – galvanized white nationalism and anti-government sentiments under a pro-Trump banner, said Lawrence Rosenthal, founder and chief of the Berkeley Center for Right -Wing Studies.

The rate of militia involvement in protests increased after the presidential election, according to the armed conflict.

Although many American militias can be described as latent in that they threaten more violence than they commit, several recently organized militias are associated with a right-wing ideology of extreme violence against communities opposed to their rhetoric and to their demands for domination and control, according to the report. .

The Jan.6 attack on the Capitol should have been expected, Rosenthal said, comparing the March 1922 Mussolinis assault on Rome, when the future Italian dictator flooded the streets with thousands of his Blackshirt militia to force the king and the Parliament by offering it control of the government.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is bracing for the worst.

President and CEO Margaret Huang said in a press release: The anti-government threat is likely to worsen in the coming months, with the real possibility of further acts of domestic terrorism in response to Donald Trumps’ impeachment trial, new health and safety measures to fight COVID-19 and more.

See more cleveland.com stories about the militias here.

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