As armed supporters of President Donald Trump prepare to converge on state capitals and Washington, D.C., this weekend and Inauguration Day, some legal experts are calling on authorities to enforce longstanding laws outlawing organized groups that act as citizen-run, unauthorized militias.
Federal law, constitutions in every state, and criminal statutes in 29 states outlaw groups that engage in activities reserved for state agencies, including acting as law enforcement, training and drilling together, engaging in crowd control and making shows of force as armed groups at public gatherings.
Yet hundreds of armed groups, organized under the insignia of the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters and others, do exactly that.
These groups have seen their popularity surge since the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. Over the last four years, most have pledged their allegiance to Trump. And some of these groups are planning to come out in force in the days leading up to Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“It’s clearly time to dust off these tools,” said Mary McCord, legal director at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Armed groups of men identifying as Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and similar groups were present at violent protests at state capitals in recent months, including those who provided what they called security at protests against COVID-19 lockdowns in Michigan, Trump rallies, and events organized by far-right extremist groups.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Will Carless