‘Go There Ready for War’—Militia Organizing in North Carolina in the Context of the Insurrection at the US Capitol

This report was originally published in Scalawag Magazine. 

New report by Mab Segrest of BluePrintNC, with Isela Gutierrez, Jazmynne Williams, and other members of the North Carolina Anti-Racist Research Collaborative

Author's note: 'Go There Ready for War' –Militia Organizing in North Carolina in the Context of the Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is a new undertaking by a set of veteran activists with BluePrintNC, NARAL ProChoice North Carolina, and Bend the Arc.1 Having recently returned to North Carolina, I joined them after the election in their Thursday afternoon meetings. As our discussions unfolded, I agreed to write up what we were finding out about North Carolina in light of the events of the U.S. Capitol, whose key Oath Keeper insurrectionists today remain oddly unnamed and unindicted. The report is the first effort of our North Carolina Anti-Racist Research Collaborative, and we anticipate future stories on key topics by diverse authors in multiple formats. Thanks to Scalawag for posting online for us. You can read my introductory essay here.

As the Charlotte Observer has reported, "North Carolina was in the middle of a multi-state conspiracy to recruit, train, and arm potentially violent militia members to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6."2 New federal indictments paint a still-unfolding picture of the far-right conspiracy behind the events of that day, as well as their North Carolina connections. North Carolinians were indeed in the middle of the jaw-dropping story of a national insurrection inspired by a sitting U.S. President to storm the national Capitol and stop the peaceful transfer of Presidential power—a narrative unfolding on multiple fronts across the states and into the highest reaches of government.

Federal indictments since January 19, 2021, make it clear that the vanguard of January 6, 2021, Capitol Insurrection were white supremacist and anti-government militias, especially leaders of two prominent alt-right groups. Court documents indicate that named and yet-to-be-named North Carolina members of the Oath Keepers—an extremist group that has been recruiting active and retired members of the military, the police, and first responders since its founding in 2009—were key participants in the Insurrection. Better known in the days since the riots are the Proud Boys, founded in 2016 as a far-right, white nationalist, male-only group that engages in political street violence. Both have deep ties to North Carolina.

This report, its title taken from one of the many battle cries of Insurrectionists, identifies the connections between the Capitol attack and far-right activity in North Carolina over the last several years. We set out to begin to connect the dots of the clear and present danger of these groups in North Carolina and the United States.3 "Go There Ready for War" traces the events leading up to January 6 in order to determine both what is now known and what is still yet to be known about participation from North Carolinians. We examined militia and other far-right activities across the state to determine what illegalities and dangers they represent.4 In tracing the insurrection back to one state to see its roots and its fruits, we want to give democratic forces in North Carolina information they/we need in this very old and very new terrain, a model that other states might follow. This report is by its nature incomplete, and we hope you will help us track the story as it unfolds from your community.

Continue reading here.

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