CAPITAL TIMES.COM October 1, 2020 – It’s been two years since Walt Madsen started a militia in the north woods of Price County. Since then, he’s watched the ranks of fellow “patriots” swell.
“Two years ago, there were no militias,” he said. “Now you have one here in Price County, there’s one in Oconto County, there’s one in Green Bay, one down in Eau Claire starting up.”
Across the nation and in Wisconsin, the militia movement is flourishing, fueled by outrage over stay-at-home orders, mask mandates and public unrest. In increasing numbers, armed militia members and vigilantes have inserted themselves into highly charged confrontations between protesters and police, with sometimes violent consequences.
In June, a standoff in Albuquerque between protesters and militia members led to the shooting of a protester trying to remove a statue. In Kalamazoo and Portland, fights broke out in August between protesters and the Proud Boys, a far-right nationalist group whose members frequently confront protesters at racial justice rallies.
In California, a man associated with the far-right Boogaloo movement has been charged with killing two officers. Other adherents, sometimes wearing trademark Hawaiian shirts, have been suspected of infiltrating Black Lives Matter protests to incite violence.
The violence reached new heights when hundreds of armed men showed up in Kenosha after buildings were ransacked and burned in response to the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake. One of those men, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, shot three protesters, killing two and seriously wounding the third. [full article]