A new report reveals that hundreds of current lawmakers, law enforcement personnel and people serving in the U.S. military are listed as members of the far right extremist group the Oath Keepers, which was instrumental in the attack on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
The report is based on a leak of the Oath Keepers’s membership rolls, which was published last year by the nonprofit journalist collective Distributed Denial of Secrets. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Center on Extremism delved into the names in the leak and published findings on the professions of many of those included.
The report highlights the prevalence of far right, white nationalist ideologies within the U.S. military and law enforcement.
At least 373 people on the Oath Keepers list are currently working in law enforcement, including at least 10 local chiefs of police and 11 sheriffs. Another 117 people were identified as currently serving in various branches of the U.S. military, with 11 additional names identified as serving in the reserves and 31 individuals working either as contractors or holding civilian positions in the military.
The list also contained the names of 81 people who were either already in elected office at the start of August or running to become officeholders, the report said.
“These individuals run the gamut from local office — mayors, town councilmembers, school board members — to state representatives and senators,” the ADL said.
The organization noted that some of the people whose names appear on the list may have signed up to be members of the Oath Keepers years ago and since distanced themselves from the group. Others may have never paid dues to the Oath Keepers.
Still, the Oath Keepers was an extremist organization from the start.
“Even for those who claimed to have left the organization when it began to employ more aggressive tactics in 2014,” the ADL said, “it is important to remember that the Oath Keepers have espoused extremism since their founding, and this fact was not enough to deter these individuals from signing up.”
The Oath Keepers have long engaged in violence, most infamously on the morning of January 6, 2021, when they began the attack on the U.S. Capitol building. Prosecutors have alleged that group leaders began planning for the day’s violence months prior, immediately after President Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election. They also allege that the group stockpiled rifles and ammunition outside of Washington D.C. as part of their operation, gearing up for what they believed would be the start of a civil war in order to ensure that former President Donald Trump would remain in office.
According to reporting from CNN, some leaders of the organization believed they were acting on Trump’s orders to disrupt the congressional certification process of the election, which Trump had wrongly maintained he only lost because of election fraud.
Twelve members of the Oath Keepers have been charged with seditious conspiracy relating to the day’s events, including the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes. A few of the members charged have pleaded guilty, but most are awaiting trial.