‘Not A Paramilitary.’ Inside A Washington Militia’s Efforts To Go Mainstream

'Not A Paramilitary.' Inside A Washington Militia's Efforts To Go Mainstream

11 slides Credit: Jim Urquhart for NPR Attendees recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the "United Against Hate" rally by the Washington Three Percent in Seattle last month. On a recent morning, Matt Marshall sat at a back table in Jim Bob’s Chuck Wagon, a café in an old timber town about a half-hour outside of Seattle. It was the eve of a political rally Marshall had spent months planning. He scribbled last-minute notes in a homemade booklet, a Christmas present from his daughter. On the front, in black marker, she’d drawn the logo of the Washington Three Percent, the name of her dad’s militia. Although that’s not the word he uses. "We’re absolutely not a paramilitary," he said. "We’re a nonprofit corporation." To Marshall, "militia" conjures images of wannabes in the woods with guns – all bluster, no action. He said that’s why he’s grown frustrated with the national leadership of the Three Percent, which is named for the (debunked) belief that only 3% of colonists fought in the American Revolution. It’s part of the broader "Patriot Movement," an assortment of militias, survivalists, and self-described "constitutionalist conservatives" that question the legitimacy of the federal government and seek to limit its powers. Typically, these factions get lumped together under one catchall: anti-government extremists. "The narrative is, we’re an all-white man, Christian Dominion-type, crazy, out there, far-right militia," Marshall said. So, he set about changing that image. First, Marshall broke with the national Three Percent and took his group independent. […]

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