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1 in 5 Patriot Front applicants say they have ties to the military

Members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front march on Constitution Avenue near the National Archives in Washington in January.
Jose Luis Magana
Members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front march on Constitution Avenue near the National Archives in Washington in January.

About one in five applicants to white supremacist group Patriot Front claim to have current or former military status, according to archives of the group's private chats released by nonprofit media organization Unicorn Riot.

The white supremacist group published 87 applications to Patriot Front on open-source chat platform Rocket Chat. Out of those applications, 18 said they were current or former members of the U.S. military. One applicant said he currently worked for the Department of Homeland Security.

Patriot Front is a rebrand of neo-Nazi group Vanguard America, which attended the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va. The group is "one of the most prominent white supremacist groups" in the U.S., according to a release from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The group has created an image of Americana, bolstered by racism, antisemitism and neo-fascism, according to the SPLC. Some members of Patriot Front have demonstrated "an open admiration" for Nazism and national socialism.

According to NPR's Jan. 6 database, about 14% of those charged in relation to the Capitol siege have ties to the military or law enforcement.

In the applications, the applicant who said he was a current DHS employee and a Marine said he "found out about the Jews while in the marines."

Another applicant, who claimed to be a member of the Army Reserve, used derogatory language about the LGBTQ community, adding that he first encountered LGBTQ people in the military.

Applicants also discussed the skills they obtained while in the military. One said he had knowledge of "Marine martial arts" and that he'd been "trained in firearms." Another said he had "great land-navigation, great physical fitness, able to clear rooms."

Aside from the "Unite the Right" rally, Patriot Front members vandalized a George Floyd statue in Brooklyn, N.Y., in June 2021. Members also defaced a mural of Black tennis player Arthur Ashe in Richmond, Va. Some joined an anti-abortion demonstration in Washington in January, according to the SPLC.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rina Torchinsky
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