The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified four anti-government groups active in Massachusetts, including one headquartered in a Western Massachusetts town.
The center recently published a national list of what it considers anti-government groups and where they are located. The SPLC defines anti-government groups as congregations that believe, to some extent, in the “New World Order” conspiracy fantasy, which says that the United Nations is seeking to take away citizen property rights.
In Massachusetts, the active anti-government groups are My Brothers Threepers, Constitution Party, III% United Patriots, and the Oath Keepers, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit that promotes awareness of and solutions to racial injustice.
Of the four groups, SPLC listed headquarters for only one of them - the Oath Keepers are based in Ware.
The Oath Keepers are a group of mostly current and former military, police, and other law enforcement personnel who believe the U.S. government is plotting to take away citizens' rights, the SPLC said. They promise to adhere to the oath that many members took in their professions - to uphold the Constitution - as well as to not obey official orders the Oath Keepers have decided are unconstitutional.
Making it on to the SPLC anti-government organization list does not imply that the groups themselves advocate or engage in violence or other criminal activities or are racist, the SPLC stated.
The list comes at a time of increased activity among paramilitary groups. The resurgence is in response to COVID-19, Black Lives Matter protests, and the 2020 election, SPLC said, and began in 2008 after President Obama took office.
The Oath Keepers are one of several far-right groups being investigated for its role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol Building, an attempt to overturn Joe Biden's election to the presidency. Other anti-government groups being investigated for their participation in the Washington, D.C., riot include Three Percenters and the Proud Boys.
Overall, SPLC has identified 689 anti-government groups that were active in the U.S. during 2020. Of these groups, 273 were militias, others self-identified as publishers, “common law courts,” ministries, and citizens’ groups.
Antigovernment organizations were at their height in 1996 when there were 858 active groups across the U.S., SPLC said.
SPLC's anti-government group list was compiled from field reports, group publications, the internet, law enforcement sources, and news reports.
To read the full report go to splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/antigovernment
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