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Report: ID-Based Far Right Militia Network Grows Across U.S.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Membership in a network of self-styled militia groups reportedly has expanded from Idaho to 15 other states.

A new report called "Ammon's Army" looks at the growing threat from the far-right group People's Rights - started by Emmett, Idaho-based Ammon Bundy, who led armed standoffs in Oregon and Nevada.

Devin Burghart is the president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, which co-wrote the report. He said Bundy has exploited fears about COVID-19 and inserted it into the Northwest's militia movement.

"What we saw early on, starting in late March and then into early April," said Burghart, "was a merging of those two efforts, combining militia ideology and tactics with the kind of reopen, anti-masker mass mobilization."

According to the report, People's Rights has attracted more than 20,000 followers, including more than 2,300 in Idaho. Local chapters largely have organized on Facebook.

Chuck Tanner, research director with the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, said the network's ideology isn't directly rooted in white nationalism. However, members regularly post in Facebook groups anti-Semitic memes, COVID-19-related conspiracy theories, and attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement.

He said People's Rights also has appealed to groups such as the Proud Boys.

"It's built a coalition that is very troubling in both the racism, the divisiveness that they promote in communities, and the ever-present potential for violence that is part and parcel of Bundy's projects and some of the organizations involved," said Tanner.

Burghart said history shows that it takes more than law enforcement to stop the threat of far-right groups such as People's Rights. Communities also need to mobilize against the threat.

"Coming together, uniting, facing the fear together and building effective barriers against bigotry," said Burghart. "Those are the essential things that make the difference on the ground and those are things that will turn the tide from these folks dominating and dividing communities."

Burghart noted that since the report was released, Facebook has taken down pages associated with People's Rights.