A GOP official in Oregon says the party may use private militias, including groups widely recognized as antigovernment extremists, to protect Republican officials, The Guardian reports.
The move comes following the racially charged murder of two men and a third injured while defending a Muslim teen from a man shouting anti-Islamic slurs on Friday. The suspect, Jeremy Christian, 35, was found to hold white supremacist views and to have attended an “alt-right” rally in the city.
James Buchal, chair of the Republican party for Multnomah County, which includes Portland, told The Guardian that GOP figures may need “a security force protecting them” while out in public. When asked if he meant private groups, Buchal told the newspaper, “Yeah. And there are these people arising, like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.”
Both groups are on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of active, extremist antigovernment groups and considered as such by the Anti-Defamation League as well. But Buchal said these groups were under consideration for his “security force” plan.
“Yeah. We’re thinking about that,” Buchal was quoted as saying. “Because there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis.”
The Anti-Defamation League said both groups “promote the idea that the federal government is plotting to take away the rights of American citizens and must be resisted.”
In recent months, Portland has been the scene of numerous protests, including some that have turned violent, such as a May Day rally that led to 25 arrests. In the wake of Friday’s deadly attack, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is trying to cancel events sponsored by right-wing groups, including a “Trump Free Speech Rally.”