The Multnomah County Republican Party (MCRP) has formally decided to pair up with right-wing militia groups to run security at local events.
The formal resolution was passed on on Monday and its text was leaked to the Mercury Friday morning. MCRP Chairman James Buchal, despite being displeased with the leak, confirmed his group approved pairing up with the Oregon Three Percenters and Oath Keepers via a resolution earlier this week:
Proposed Resolution of Chairman Buchal: Resolve that the MCRP may utilize volunteers from the Oregon Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, and other security groups. To provide security where such volunteers are certified to provide private security service by the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. Kay Bridges moved and Janice Dysinger seconded. Resolution passed.
Update: We got ahold of the meeting minutes from Monday night MCRP meeting at the Shiloh Inn. Here's the relevant section:
The Guardian reported late last month—in the wake of the MAX hate crime stabbings and ahead of a June 4 alt-right rally downtown—that the MCRP was considering allowing the militia groups to run security for right-wing events. It's now official.
Such arrangements have already caused uproar. At the June 4 rally, a militia member was spotted helping a federal cop detain and arrest a protester. The Department of Justice announced it would investigate the incident.
Militia groups have also previously volunteered as security at pro-Donald Trump rallies in Lake Oswego in March and at Patriot Prayer's Vancouver, WA, rally in April. Patriot Prayer is hosting a rally in downtown Portland Friday evening.
"The volunteers are afraid of going to Portland street fairs and Portland events because of what happened to them," Buchal tells the Mercury, specifically citing the anonymous email threat regarding the MCRP marching in the 82nd Avenue of the Roses Parade that led to the parade's cancellation. "Our only recourse is volunteers because we got no money. This volunteer resource is available."
Using these volunteer militia groups is necessary, Buchal said, because of "unhinged people screaming at (Republicans), in one case shoving them and in another case spitting on them. They don't feel like it's safe environment out there."
The resolution calls for the militia members to be certified by the state to run private security. Buchal said he didn't know if the Republicans will ask each militia member to prove their certification before working security, as the kinks haven't been worked out yet.
"I don't understand how it's a whole hell of a lot different than rich people hiring private security guards," explained Buchal about the volunteer militias. "I don't understand why it's so different."
The Oath Keepers are described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the US”, recruiting current and former military and law enforcement personnel. They have recently appeared at rallies from Berkeley, California, to Boston, standing with activists from the far right, activists holding what were once fringe positions who have recently risen to national prominence.
The Three Percenters are described by Political Research Associates as “a paramilitary group that pledges armed resistance against attempts to restrict private gun ownership”. They were a highly visible presence in Burns, Oregon, before and during the occupation of the Malheur wildlife refuge by rightwing militia early in 2016.
"One of the things we did before going down this road is research these groups," Buchal tells the Mercury on Friday. "Because of all this gross disinformation in the media that they’re racist, white supremacists, Nazis and so forth — I was very pleased to find their bylaws and internal procedures say that nobody’s going to tolerate racism and that kind of stuff. That’s not what it’s about. They are concerned that with the government overstepping its constitutional bounds."
This post has been updated with more quotes from James Buchal and more information on the militias.
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