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Antigovernment “Patriots” are pledging support for a former Marine and self-described Oath Keeper who recently was charged with the rape of a child in Oklahoma and illegally having a grenade launcher. They say the man is being set up because of his own unorthodox and antigovernment views.
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the conspiracy-minded Oath Keepers group, denies that Charles Dyer actually was a member of his organization, or that he scrubbed all mentions of Dyer from his website after Dyer was arrested. Dyer has repeatedly and publicly represented himself as a member of the Oath Keepers.
Dyer, 29, of Marlow, was arrested last week for the alleged rape and forcible sodomy of a 7-year-old child. He is in federal custody and has a court hearing scheduled on Monday. During a search of his residence to collect DNA evidence, a grenade launcher was found that had been stolen from a Fort Irwin, Calif., military base in 2006. Dyer told an FBI agent that his best friend had given him the grenade launcher while Dyer was stationed in California with the Marine Corps, according to court records.
Dyer is a familiar face in the angry world of the Patriots, where he assumed the name of July4patriot. He has appeared in YouTube videos, railing against a repressive government and the much-feared, socialistic “New World Order.” In one, he wears a mask of a skeleton from the nose down. He says he was a sergeant in the Marines, and served in Iraq.
“Me, I’m going to use my training from the military and I suppose become one of those domestic terrorists that we’re so afraid of from the DHS [Department of Homeland Security] and their reports,” Dyer says in one video. “Ridiculous.”
Now, some of Dyer’s fellow Patriots and conspiracy buffs see something sinister in his arrest and are pledging support in their own YouTube videos. “Another attack against the movement,” one of them declares. “Now is the time to intensify our hatred of tyranny. We are to stand by July4Patriot.” In another, a man opines: “Most likely it was a setup. This seems too convenient to the New World Order.” And a third man shaves his head in yet another video in a show of support for Dyer, who also has a shaved head.
Dyer can be seen in a video made at the very first gathering of the Oath Keepers in April of last year at Lexington Green, Mass., wearing an Oath Keepers sweatshirt. Members of that organization, which is composed of law enforcement officers, military personnel and veterans, swear to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution. They vow, among other things, not to carry out orders to take citizens’ guns, impose martial law or a state of emergency on a state, or force citizens into detention camps. Their website, without any supporting evidence at all, suggests that such things are imminent in the United States.
In another YouTube video, Dyer twice identifies himself as an Oath Keeper. And yet another video, this one titled “Free July4Patriot!”, contains footage of Dyer set to music and prominently displays the Oath Keepers logo at the end.
Rhodes, the Oath Keepers founder, denied Dyer was ever an actual member, saying he never paid dues, which are a minimum of $30. Anybody is free to wear the organization’s apparel or logo, he added. Rhodes said he did discuss with Dyer the possibility of him becoming an Oath Keepers liaison to the Marine Corps, but added that he opted out when Dyer told him he planned to organize militias once he got out of the Marines. “We’re not a frickin’ militia,” Rhodes told Hatewatch.
Nor is it significant that he didn’t stop Dyer from representing himself on videos as being an Oath Keepers member, Rhodes maintained. It wouldn’t be feasible to contact everybody who does that, he said. “Am I going to call them up and tell them you’re not a dues paying member?”
Dyer spoke on behalf of Oath Keepers at a “tea party” event in Oklahoma last July 4. An online magazine called Hate Trackers unearthed a written plea to Oath Keeper members from Rhodes that was sent out just days ahead of Dyer’s appearance at the Oklahoma event. In it, Rhodes said Dyer would represent the organization and “you can bet that Sgt. Dyer will deliver one heck of a fiery speech. Take that to the bank.” But one needn’t be an Oath Keepers member in order to speak of the group’s behalf, Rhodes told Hatewatch. He denied Hate Trackers’ assertion that he deleted that and other references to Dyer that had been on the Oath Keepers website after the arrest.
But Rhodes didn’t deny that many of the same people who assume Dyer was framed feel a kinship for his organization. He did take exception to being asked if he shares their views. “I don’t control those people,” he said. He eventually added that it’s unlikely the government set up Dyer because of his views.
As for Dyer, maybe he saw this day coming. In another video, he said, “I’m sure not hiding from ATF. I’m not hiding from FBI. I’m not hiding from any organization. If they want to come take me, I’m not going to be afraid.”