A Pro-Trump Militant Group Has Recruited Thousands of Police, Soldiers, and Veterans - 2020-09-30
Editor's Note: After this story was sent to press for the November issue of The Atlantic, President Donald Trump was asked in the September 29 debate whether he would "condemn white supremacists and militia groups and say that they need to stand down." The president said "Sure," and then said that the Proud Boys, a militant nativist group, should "stand back and stand by" as the election approaches. Subscribers to the print magazine can expect to receive the issue in mid-October.
Rhodes had been talking about civil war since he founded the Oath Keepers, in 2009. But now more people were listening. And whereas Rhodes had once cast himself as a revolutionary in waiting, he now saw his role as defending the president. He had put out a call for his followers to protect the country against what he was calling an "insurrection." The unrest, he told me, was the latest attempt to undermine Donald Trump.
Over the summer, Rhodes's warnings of conflict only grew louder. In August, when a teenager was charged with shooting and killing two people at protests over police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Rhodes called him "a Hero, a Patriot" on Twitter. And when a Trump supporter was killed later that week in Portland, Oregon, Rhodes declared that there was no going back. "Civil war is here, right now," he wrote, before being banned from the platform for inciting violence.