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Patriot movement

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Far-right "Three Percenters" patrol Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia during the 2017 Unite the Right rally.

In the United States, the patriot movement is a term which is used to describe a conglomeration of non-unified right-wing populist and nationalist political movements, most notably far-right armed militias, sovereign citizens, and tax protesters.[1][2][3] Ideologies held by patriot movement groups often focus on anti-government conspiracy theories, with the SPLC describing a common belief that "despise the federal government and/or question its legitimacy."[3] The movement first emerged in 1994 in response to what members saw as "violent government repression" of dissenting groups, along with increased gun control and the Clinton administration.[4]

Several groups within the patriot movement have committed or endorsed violence, with U.S. law enforcement agencies labeling some groups "dangerous, delusional and sometimes violent."[5][6][7] The ADL and The American Scientific Affiliation has noted that groups often have connections to white supremacy, however, their connections to it have shrunk over time due to their recent inclusion of non-white members.[8][1] Major events in America which alarm or inspire the patriot movement include the 1992 Ruby Ridge siege, the 1993 Waco siege and the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing.[9] The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) found that the economic decline and nomination of Barack Obama in 2008 caused the movement to "come roaring back", after declining from 800 groups in 1996 to less than 150 groups in 2000.[4][10]


Historians of the patriot movement identify its origins in the 1980s American farm crisis.[11][12][13] As various policies combined to drive farmers deeply into debt, groups on the margins of American politics engaged rural communities with a range of conspiracy theory literature that drew on existing traditions of antisemitism, nativism and paleoconservatism.[14] The Posse Comitatus, the Liberty Lobby and Lyndon LaRouche were prominent in these campaigns[13][15] which informed and shaped the ideology of the movement that emerged.[11] In the early 1990s, the patriot movement saw a surge of growth spurred by the confrontations at Ruby Ridge and Waco.[5] The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was carried out by two patriot movement members, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.[10][16] During the 1990s the movement organized using "gun shows and the Internet".[17] The movement was highly active in the mid-1990s and at a peak in 1996, contained around 800 separate groups.[10] It saw decline in the late 1990s.[9][18][19]

In 2009, the SPLC expressed concern about a resurgent patriot movement,[20][21] and the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning of heightened "Rightwing Extremism".[22] The SPLC attributed this growth to "an angry backlash against non-white immigration and ... the economic meltdown and the Presidency of Barack Obama."[23] It reported the growth of patriot groups with an increase from 149 in 2008, to 824 in 2010, to 1,274 in 2011[24] and 1,360 in 2012.[25] According to the SPLC, the "explosive growth seems to have been driven by the election of our first black president and the approaching loss of a white majority in the U.S. that he represents. Another driver is the crash of the economy, which coincided neatly with the rise to national power of President Obama."[25]

The SPLC found that while "there are many people" in the patriot movement "that aren't engaged in illegal activity," the "normalizing of conspiracy theories"—such as the belief that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is building concentration camps; rumors of covert plans by Mexico to reconquer the American Southwest; and the anxiety Sharia law might become part of the U.S. court system—has played into the growth of the groups.[24] An extremist member of the patriot movement carried out the 2009 anti-abortion murder of George Tiller,[26][27] and some extremists within the movement also have expressed support for Joseph Stack's 2010 plane crash into an Internal Revenue Service office.[28] The movement was connected to and received a boost in profile from the 2014 Bundy standoff and 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Two members of the movement, Jerad Miller and Amanda Miller, killed two police officers and a civilian during a violent shooting rampage in Las Vegas after leaving the Bundy standoff; they pinned a note to one of their victims saying "This is the beginning of the revolution."[7]


Various patriot movement aligned groups have frequently been described as racist, xenophobic, extremist, antisemitic, anti-Islam, anti-immigrant, and violent by groups such as the SPLC,[29][30] ADL,[31] and the FBI.[32]

Descriptions of the patriot movement include:

Additionally, the patriot movement has been associated with the following views:

Elements of the patriot movement have expressed support for various conspiracy theories:

In addition to the militia movement, which is said to have come out of the patriot movement, the patriot movement is often associated with the sovereign citizen movement, whose adherents believe that most US laws are illegitimate and do not apply to them.[8][24]


Groups identifying with the movement include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b ""Patriot" Movement". Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  2. ^ Parish, Jane; Parker, Martin (December 3, 2001). The Age of Anxiety: Conspiracy Theory and the Human Sciences. Wiley. ISBN 9780631231684 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b "Key Events and Crimes of the Patriot Movement". Southern Poverty Law Center. April 16, 2015. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Potok, Mark (March 1, 2012). "The 'Patriot' Movement Explodes". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Right-wing Counterculture Uses Waco as Rallying Cry| Herald-Journal April 24, 1995
  6. ^ a b Winerip, Michael (June 23, 1996). "Ohio Case Typifies the Tensions Between Militia Groups and Law". The New York Times.
  7. ^ a b Sullivan, Kevin. "Primed to Fight The Government". Washington Post.
  8. ^ a b c d e AMERICAN MILITIAS: Rebellion, Racism & Religion by Richard Abanes, review by Dennis L. Feucht in American Scientific Affiliation.
  9. ^ a b Report: 'Explosive' Growth Of 'Patriot Movement' And Militias Continues by Mark Memmott npr.org March 13, 2012
  10. ^ a b c d Janofsky, Michael (April 11, 1996). "Closer Watch of Paramilitary Groups Is Urged". The New York Times.
  11. ^ a b Gallaher, Carolyn (2003). On the Fault Line: Race, Class, and the American Patriot Movement.
  12. ^ Wright, Stuart T. (2007). Patriots, politics, and the Oklahoma City bombing. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-87264-5.
  13. ^ a b Levitas, Daniel (2004). The Terrorist Next Door.
  14. ^ Matthew Lyons; Chip Berlet (2000). Right-wing populism in America: too close for comfort. New York: Guilford Press. ISBN 1-57230-562-2.
  15. ^ "Shedding Light on Liberty Lobby". News & Record (Greensboro). June 3, 1995. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  16. ^ Michel, Lou. "American Terrorist", 2001.
  17. ^ a b c "Online NewsHour:Militia Movement - April 3, 1997". PBS. Archived from the original on March 26, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  18. ^ "Militias 'in retreat'". BBC News. May 11, 2001.
  19. ^ "Patriots No More". CBS News. April 19, 2001. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2010.
  20. ^ Militia movement on the rise - 22 August 2009 - MiamiHerald.com
  21. ^ Bright, Arthur (August 14, 2009). "Report: militia activity on the rise in US". Christian Science Monitor.
  22. ^ Carty, Daniel (April 16, 2009). "Homeland Security Chief Defends Report On Right Wing Extremists". CBS News. Archived from the original on March 10, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  23. ^ Gaynor, Tim (March 4, 2010). "U.S. right-wing groups, militias surge: study". Reuters.
  24. ^ a b c Right-wing 'patriot' groups girding for actual class warfare, report says By Patrik Jonsson | csmonitor.com | 8 March 2012
  25. ^ a b Potok, Mark (November 2, 2013). "Hatewatch Exclusive: Alleged LAX Shooter Referenced 'Patriot' Conspiracy Theories". Southern Poverty Law Center.
  26. ^ Berlet, Chip (June 3, 2009). "Anti-Abortion Violence and the Right-Wing Patriot Movement". Huffington Post.
  27. ^ Saulny, Susan; Davey, Monica (June 2, 2009). "Seeking Clues on Suspect in Shooting of Doctor". The New York Times.
  28. ^ "Extremists in 'Patriot' Movement Calling Joe Stack a Hero". ABC News. September 7, 2010.
  29. ^ "Key Events and Crimes of the Patriot Movement". SPLCenter.org. April 15, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  30. ^ "THE 'PATRIOT' MOVEMENT TIMELINE". SPLCenter.org. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  31. ^ "The Oath Keepers: Anti-Government Extremists Recruiting Military and Police". ADL.org. September 16, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  32. ^ "Terrorism in the United States 1996". FBi.gov. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  33. ^ Duignan, Brian; John Philip Jenkins. Militia movement. Britannica.
  34. ^ Tea Party Lights Fuse for Rebellion on Right By DAVID BARSTOW| nyt.com February 15, 2010
  35. ^ a b c d Patriot Movement is Alive and Well in the US Los Angeles Daily News December 26, 1994 |Wilmington NC, Star-News Google News Archive Search
  36. ^ "QAnon, false flags and baby-eating liberals: How Arizona Patriots build community around conspiracy theories". www.azcentral.com. The Arizona Republic. October 9, 2020. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  37. ^ Zaitchik, Alexander (2010). "'Patriot' Paranoia: A Look at the Top Ten Conspiracy Theories". Intelligence Report. Fall 2010 (139). Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  38. ^ a b c Janofsky, Michael (May 31, 1995). "Demons and Conspiracies Haunt a 'Patriot' World". The New York Times.
  39. ^ "'Patriot' spokesmen call McVeigh a pawn at most". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – via Google News Archive.

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