PORTRAIT Indicted for sedition, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia is accused of trying to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power

Capitol Attack: Far-Right Leader Stewart Rhodes Ready for “Civil War”

Charged with sedition, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia was arrested in Texas on January 13, 2022. — Police/Sipa

On the eve of January 6, he called dozens of his acolytes to attend. prepare for a “bloody fight”. Stewart Rhodes, charged from “s”s” for its role in the attack on the Capitol, illustrates the shift of the American far right from opposition to the federal government to the fierce and armed defense of Donald Trump. Arrested On Thursday, the founder of the radical “Oath Keepers” group, 56, appeared before a federal judge in Texas on Friday, who ordered a his continued detention on remand.

Justice accuses him of having conspired “To prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” using violent means against the seat of Congress, on January 6, 2021. “ was created some sort of mythological figure: He saw himself as some sort of historical figure and somehow ”it took place” reacted on CNN his wife Tasha Adams, who has been fighting since 2018 to obtain a divorce from a man, according to her, “dangerous”.

Stewart Rhodes has an atypical career: enrôlé in the army after high school, he quickly finds civilian life after a bad parachute jump. Another accident: in 1993, he drops his gun ; the shot goes off and he loses his left eye. He has since worn a distinctive black headband. After reconnecting with the studies, living thanks to the salary of stripper of his wife, he obtains a law degree from the prestigious university. from Yale, but settled in Nevada, far from the big money-making law firms.

Supporter of libertarian Ron Paul

Fiercely opposed to a federal state judged to be oppressive, he writes on libertarian blogs and participates in 2008 in; the presidential campaign of the leader of this movement, Ron Paul. After Barack Obama's victory, Stewart Rhodes forms his own movement. Its objective: recruit men and women with military or police experience, ready to “keep their oath” (“keep their oath”, in English) to “defend the Constitution against any foreign or domestic enemy.

At the time , it’s about protecting individual freedoms – like carrying weapons – against federal power. Stewart Rhodes insists that this is not a “militia”, that violence should only be used as a last resort.

Little by little little, a shift begins. He creates teams with paramilitary training. In 2014 and 2015, they were notably deployed in the west near ranch owners in armed conflict. with the government.

Another shift in 2016. Like other radical movements, the Oath Keepers – which now have a few thousand members – are galvanized by the arrival at the White House of Donald Trump, whose conspiracy theories they share, in particular on the existence of a “deep state” which would be secretly piloted by elites.

Dressed in military uniforms and armed, they come out in broad daylight in 2020 during demonstrations against the restrictions imposed to stem the pandemic, then during the vast anti-racist mobilization of the summer. to, they say, protect businesses from looting.

“Civil War”

Conquered by Donald Trump, Stewart Rhodes appears at; meetings for his re-election and refuses, after the ballot, to recognize his defeat. “We won’t get out of this without a civil war,” his supporters, before beginning preparations to block the transfer of power. For him, it”s “patriotism”.

According to the indictment, he spends thousands of dollars buying weapons, which he stores near ;s from Washington, and organizes the transportation of activists to the capital, where on January 6, 2021, the elected representatives of Congress must certify the victory of Democrat Joe Biden.

On D-Day, by encrypted messaging, he gives his orders, without entering -even in the Capitol. “He is very good at putting all the risk on others,” his wife in the Los Angeles Times. This will not have been enough to protect him from justice. Charged from “s”s” with ten other Oath Keepers, the heaviest leader retained at agrave; At this point, he incurs up to 20 years in prison.