GOP-backed QAnon congressional candidate Lauren Boebert rallied with far-right militia at Colorado gun event
Lauren Boebert is a QAnon supporter who recently won the Republican primary in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. In addition to her support for the violence-linked QAnon conspiracy theory, she previously participated in a pro-gun rally with members of the Three Percenters, a far-right militia movement that has “long been active around the fringes of the white supremacist ecosystem” and has been connected to acts of violence over the years.
Boebert defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tipton last night and will face Democratic candidate Diane Mitsch Bush in November. In December, Fox News helped Boebert publicize her campaign. Following her June 30 primary victory, the National Republican Congressional Committee backed her bid and President Donald Trump congratulated her on Twitter.
During an interview with QAnon supporter Ann Vandersteel in May, Boebert said that she was “very familiar with” QAnon and hoped that the conspiracy theory “is real because it only means America is getting stronger and better,” adding that it “is only motivating and encouraging and bringing people together, stronger, and if this is real, then it can be really great for our country.”
The QAnon conspiracy theory is based on cryptic posts to online message boards from an anonymous user known as “Q" that have spread rampantly on social media and among fringe right-wing media. QAnon conspiracy theorists essentially believe that Trump is secretly working to take down the purported “deep state,” a supposed cabal of high-ranking officials who they claim are operating pedophile rings. An FBI field office released a May 2019 bulletin listing QAnon as a potential domestic terrorism threat, and the conspiracy theory has been linked to multiple acts of crime and violence.
On December 7, Boebert helped organize and participated in a rally called “We Will Not Comply!” The event was against Colorado’s “red flag” law implementing extreme risk protection orders, which, as Colorado Public Radio summarized, “allows a judge to temporarily remove somebody’s firearms if they’re a danger to themselves or others.” The law was implemented in January 2020.
Providing “security” for the rally was American Patriots Three Percent, a group associated with the Three Percenters, a far-right militia movement sometimes referred to as the Three Percent movement or “III%.” The Colorado Times Recorder wrote about the group’s appearance in a December 9 article.
During the rally, Boebert’s campaign manager, rally co-organizer, and Facebook personality Sherronna Bishop praised the militia group, stating that she wanted “to acknowledge our security here today. Our Boots on the Ground [Bikers for Trump] and the Three Percent. They’ve been keeping us safe. These are constitution-loving, freedom-loving, men and women and we thank you so much for being here and for giving us your time today and watching out for us. So thank you so much.”
The Three Percenters and its supporters are active on social media, which has become a cesspool of activity for far-right militia groups (after a long time of inaction, Facebook recently and finally banned numerous accounts connected to the extremist Boogaloo movement). In 2018, Natalie Martinez documented for Media Matters that popular conservative meme pages on Facebook have affiliated themselves with the Three Percenters. She also examined the extremism of the movement, writing:
The Three Percenters is a loosely organized anti-government “patriot group” whose name refers to the disputed idea that 3 percent of American colonists fought against the British during the Revolutionary War. Although the largest group claims it is “NOT a militia” and “NOT anti-government,” the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the Three Percenters as anti-government extremists, and outlets including Politico, Vice, and Reveal have identified local groups affiliated with the movement as militias. In a profile of Three Percenter cells, Reveal wrote that the movement has “long been active around the fringes of the white supremacist ecosystem.”
In its principles, The Three Percenters state that they are not “the aggressor” and have a “don’t fire unless fired upon” policy. However, local level groups and militiamen affiliated with the Three Percenters movement have been implicated in multiple instances of domestic terrorism and racist violence over the past few years. Members of the Three Percenters, along with other militia groups like the Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia and the Oath Keepers, provided security for the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, in August 2017. The Three Percent United Patriots has operated as a border militia that “hunt[ed] Mexicans” while profiling and targeting Latinos passing through the U.S.-Mexico border. A member of the Three Percenters militia was arrested before attempting to detonate a bomb outside of a bank in Oklahoma City. And Three Percenters from Idaho and Oregon joined Ammon and Cliven Bundy’s armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.
Muslims and Muslim community spaces are frequent targets of state and local level Three Percenter groups. One of three arrested suspects in the bombing of a Minnesota mosque in March was identified as the head of the group White Rabbit Three Percent Illinois Patriot Freedom Fighters Militia. In 2016, the North Dakota Security Force III% published a since-removed video of a model of a mosque being shot at and blown up. Multiple Three Percenter groups have organized armed protests targeting mosques in Georgia, Texas, and Kansas (where the group goes by both Kansas Security Force and Kansas Three Percent Security Force).
Major media outlets such as The Associated Press, The New York Times, and The Washington Post have referred to the Three Percenters as a militia.
One attendee at the December “We Will Not Comply” rally also wrote that the American Patriots Three Percent helped “with security” for the event, stating: “Thank you APIII% for showing up and helping us out with security.” He also posted a picture of Boebert and others:
Some people in the picture appeared to to make a hand gesture which, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center, “symbolizes their belief in the disputed claim that only three percent of American colonists fought against the British in the American Revolution. The three extended fingers represent this three percent.”
Bishop reposted the picture and others with the caption “Amazing Patriots! Incredible people!”