A year of extreme political rhetoric on the campaign trail approaches a milestone as several antigovernment and racist groups have announced plans to attend the Republican National Convention, including some promising to be armed.
The following is a list of groups that have confirmed plans to attend the RNC. Absent from the list is the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), the group at the center of a violent confrontation in Sacramento last month between TWP members and anti-fascist protestors. Matthew Parrott, co-chairman of TWP, told Hatewatch the group will not be attending.
The groups that will be attending include:
• Oath Keepers: Founded in 2009, the Oath Keepers have risen to be one of the most influential groups in the antigovernment movement. Comprised mostly of former military and police personnel, the group is defined by a set of "New World Order" conspiracy theories including fears that the federal government will round up American citizens in prison camps. Its members vow to defy a specific set of orders. In recent years, the Oath Keepers have inserted members into tense confrontations and moments of civil unrest, most notably in 2014 during Cliven Bundy’s standoff with Bureau of Land Management Agents in Bunkerville, Nev. During the riots that gripped Ferguson, Mo., after the death of Michael Brown, Oath Keepers served as a private security force to protect white businesses from looting.
• New Black Panther Party: Founded in Dallas, the group portrays itself as a militant, modern-day expression of the black power movement. Principals of the original Black Panther Party of the 1960s and 1970s— a militant, but non-racist, left-wing organization — have rejected the new Panthers as a "black racist hate group" and contested their hijacking of the Panther name and symbol. The group frequently engages in armed protests of alleged police brutality. In the wake of high-profile videoed police killings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, the NBPP has said armed members will attend the rally. "If it is an open state to carry, we will exercise our Second Amendment rights because there are other groups threatening to be there that are threatening to do harm to us," Hashim Nzinga, chairman of the New Black Panther Party, told Reuters.
• Westboro Baptist Church: Known for its extreme anti-gay beliefs and the crude signs its members carry at their frequent protests, the group is basically a family-based cult of personality built around its patriarch, Fred Phelps. The group is typified by its slogan, "God Hates Fags." The group is arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America.
This list will be updated as more information becomes available.