Two days after a hate crime left two people dead on a Portland, Ore., train, the chairman of the Multnomah County Republican Party is considering using right-wing militias to protect members of the GOP when they are in "the public square."
James Buchal told The Guardian that he was "sort of evolving to the point where I think that it is appropriate for Republicans to continue to go out there. And if they need to have a security force protecting them, that’s an appropriate thing too."
Although Buchal cited the cancellation of Avenue of the Roses Parade, which occurred after someone anonymous threatened "Trump supporters and 3 percent militia" who attended, it is impossible to consider Buchal's rhetoric without the context of the recent violence in the city. Jeremy Christian, 35, who held white supremacist opinions, is accused of committing racially motivated murder in that city. The victims include Rick Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23. A third person Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was injured in the altercation, which started when the trio tried to help women who were being targeted by hate speech.
As Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said, "These were folks just riding the train and unfortunately got caught up in this. He was talking about a lot of different things, not just specifically anti-Muslim. We don’t know if he’s got mental health issues. We don’t know if he’s under the influence of drugs or alcohol or all of the above."
When asked if he was thinking of having Republicans arrange for private security instead of relying on municipal or state police, Buchal confirmed this before adding that "there are these people arising, like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters." Buchal said it could be necessary to use them for protection "because there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis."
The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Three Percenters as an "active antigovernment group" and describes the Oath Keepers as "based on a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans." One passage quoted by SPLC shows an Oath Keeper describing former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as "Herr Hitlery" and argued she would persecute militia movements by subjecting them to "secret military detention without jury trial, ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques, and trial before a military tribunal hand-picked by the dominatrix-in-chief herself."
Although the attacks occurred on Friday, President Donald Trump did not tweet out a response to them until Sunday — and not from his personal account.