More than two dozen members of the police and military in Oregon have at one point been members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government militia group, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Friday.
According to the leaked data obtained by Distributed Denial of Secrets, a non-profit whistleblower organization that shares leaked information with journalists and researchers, Oregon police signed up to join the group as early as 2009. The data includes members’ names, the date they joined Oath Keepers and contact information for anyone who paid dues to the group, which is comprised of nearly 40,000 individuals across the country. But, according to OPB, it is difficult to discern from the available data whether people on the list were current members of Oath Keepers, unless they had paid the group’s $1,000 lifetime membership fee.
Late last month, Gothamist reported that several NYPD officers were also listed on the group’s membership rolls, and on Wednesday the outlet said that “hundreds” of New Jersey cops, military personnel, and government officials had joined Oath Keepers. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has promised a “full investigation” into NYPD officers’ ties to the group, and the New Jersey attorney general’s office told Gothamist that it would examine “what reforms are necessary to root out extremism among law enforcement ranks.”
In 2014, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Oath Keepers founder Elmer “Stewart” Rhodes said that the group was made up mostly, but not exclusively, of current and former military members, law enforcement officers, and emergency first responders. One such member highlighted by in OPB’s report is current Coos County, Oregon, Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Shane Shobar, who joined the Oath Keepers in 2013. When he signed up, he bragged about his family’s military background to the group, writing, “I come from a long line of military members that have served from WWII to present time.” When OPB reached Shobar for comment, he told the reporter in a phone call that he was motivated to join by patriotism but didn’t think about whether it would be a conflict with his job as a police officer. “That was years ago, and it was just co-workers and I talking about it, but that was it,” he said.
Oath Keepers have also acted in support of President Trump. Some were captured on video at last year’s Capitol insurrection, moving toward the Capitol in what prosecutors called a “tactical formation.” According to OPB, approximately 22 members of the Oath Keepers have been charged for their involvement in the riot. The group had engaged in standoffs with the government prior to January 6th. In 2014, the group assisted rancher Cliven Bundy in his efforts to stop federal officials from seizing his cattle for nonpayment of federal grazing fees.
“We’re going to defend the president, the duly elected president, and we call on him to do what needs to be done to save our country,” a federal indictment claims one Oath Keeper at a planning meeting on November 9th, 2020, days after Trump lost the election to Biden. “You can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or fight.”