MHRN Condemns Event Supporting January 6 Insurrection
We may have just turned the page on 2021, but a day of infamy falls early in the new year. January 6 marks one year since right-wing insurrectionists physically attacked the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overthrow our time-honored process of free and fair elections. Criminal charges and jail sentences for the insurrectionists continue to roll out, as does the investigation by a special committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Since the fateful day, January 6 will be remembered as a time when an unthinkable attack on our nation happened right in front of our eyes. It also served as an example of what happens when extremism leaves the shadows and transforms into domestic terrorism, which, in this case, was viewed in real time on screens across the country. January 6 should be a day of thoughtful reflection about how so many people were incited to violence and how we can prevent another dangerous attempt to overthrow a legitimate election. As we consider how to safeguard our nation, extremist groups and leaders continue banging the drum for violent insurrection.
These insurrectionist cheerleaders are planning an event for January 6 in Helena, Montana. The following information from the Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN) will give a clear picture of the extremists and groups organizing the event. MHRN is also calling on Montana’s leaders to publicly condemn this event that is trying to normalize talking points that reject the authority of the federal government.
Extremists Organizing Insurrection Celebration in Helena
In Montana, an extremist blog called The Montana Daily Gazette has joined with violent extremist Ammon Bundy and his so-called People’s Rights network to hold an event at the Montana Capitol on January 6. They claim their event is some sort of prayer vigil to support the people who terrorized police, members of Congress, and Capitol staff as insurrectionists vandalized the U.S. Capitol building. Many members of Congress and their staff are still healing from the trauma of that day and the attempts to ignore the damage done to our nation during this attempted coup. Montanans should recognize that, no matter how organizers describe their event this week, they are celebrating domestic terrorists who literally and physically tried to overthrow the federal government.
This is the second time in the last six months that The Montana Daily Gazette, its founder Jordan Hall, and Ammon Bundy’s organization have teamed up. Hall, a pastor from Sidney, has used the Gazette to attack the LGBTQ+ community, target public health professionals trying to respond to the pandemic, and promote extremist conspiracy theories. The Daily Gazette and its affiliated podcast have also promoted militia activists like Richard Mack and militia-based groups like the Oath Keepers, which contains members who allegedly planned to attack the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Hall is also helping get a local chapter of the John Birch Society started in Richland County. Founded in the 1950s, the Birch Society is probably best known for stirring up claims that communist conspiracies existed everywhere, even calling Dwight Eisenhower an “agent of the Communist conspiracy.” The group steadfastly opposed the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s, and, once the Cold War ended, started promoting one-world government conspiracies similar to those of the militia movement.
Hall’s Daily Gazette is listed as the sponsor of the event in Helena; however, Ammon Bundy’s organization quickly started promoting it. Bundy is a member of the notorious family that orchestrated armed standoffs with the federal government in both Nevada and Oregon. At the beginning of the pandemic, he created his “People’s Rights” network. While his previous focus was harassing public land managers, Bundy exploited the pandemic and used the People’s Rights group to target public health officials and any other leaders trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. Additionally, his group’s leaders have talked about wanting to create “Uber-like” militias that can be mobilized at any time. Bundy travels the region looking for opportunities to implement the “Bundy way,” which prioritizes armed insurrection against the government and divisiveness in communities.
Jordan Hall and the Daily Gazette unsuccessfully tried to bring the “Bundy way” to Somers, Montana, in October 2020. They latched onto a case involving a failed developer who attempted to blame Whitefish Credit Union for his own financial troubles. The Daily Gazette and its podcast published numerous pieces supporting the developer and calling on anti-government extremists to rally to the Somers area and be part of that they dubbed “Camp Justice.” People’s Rights sent out messages asking its people to do the same. The Gazette even teased that Ammon Bundy might make an appearance. Thankfully, Hall was unable to rally more than a handful of people and failed to create a dangerous armed standoff. It was so poorly attended that Ammon Bundy couldn’t be bothered to show up.
This small campout in Somers did attract the attention of several active white nationalists from the Montana chapter of the neo-Nazi group White Lives Matter. In recent months, the chapter’s leaders have talked about holding a rally at the state Capitol in 2022. Given these groups were all present at the extremist gathering in Somers, it’s possible that members of White Lives Matter may attend the event celebrating January 6.
Calling on Republican Leadership to Condemn Rally
Jordan Hall and the Daily Gazette find deep support in right-wing Republican circles. This is because they’ve endorsed right-wing Republican candidates in GOP primaries, and they publish propaganda that spreads right-wing conspiracy theories.
“While Hall is viewed as an ally by some right-wing Republicans, his dedication to working with militia aficionados like Bundy should raise concerns,” says Travis McAdam of the Montana Human Rights Network. “Leading Republicans in the state need to condemn Hall’s event celebrating domestic terrorism.”
MHRN is calling on Governor Greg Gianforte, Attorney General Austin Knudsen, and the GOP leadership of the Montana Legislature to unequivocally condemn the event planned for January 6 in Helena at the Capitol.
“We encourage Montana’s leaders to condemn this sad sack reunion that, at its core, is a celebration of insurrection and domestic terrorism,” says McAdam. “There is no reason to normalize attempts to overthrow free, fair, and secure elections.”