Shane Bauer’s undercover reporting for Mother Jones as a private prison guard is credited with helping change government policy. His most recent project involved going undercover with a border militia in Arizona, where the leadership turned out to be from Colorado.
Bauer makes a new Facebook profile, likes militia pages, sends friend requests to militia members and soon signs up for Three Percent United Patriots’ private “Operation Spring Break.”
The various “Three Percenter” militia groups — you’ll often see this as III%ers — take their name from the idea that three percent of the U.S. population participated in the military aspect of the American Revolution. The leader of this particular group is a Coloradan named Mike Morris.
A Marine veteran and IT manager from Colorado named Mike Morris, known here as Fifty Cal, felt that if threepers were going to restore the Constitution, they needed to be organized and well trained. In 2013, he founded 3UP and became its commanding officer. Membership “exploded” after the Ferguson protests, he says. He boasts that the 3UP’s Colorado branch, its largest, now has 3,400 members.
Throughout Bauer’s piece, Fifty Cal is the calm, reasoned face of the militia movement. Their role is really more like mall cops, he says, just to keep an eye out and call law enforcement if they see something. He also says they try to distance themselves from white supremacy.
But here is how two members from Colorado talk about their hometown of Aurora:
The guys just can’t believe how many Muslims there are in the country today. “Saudi fucking Aurora is what it is,” Captain Pain says of his hometown in Colorado. “We need to kill more of those motherfuckers. I never seen so many fucking towelheads stateside.”
“I remember when the part of Aurora I lived in was just white people,” Jaeger says.
Jaeger is a piece of work.
“How do you tell a Jew from a Slav?” Jaeger says. “You can’t. They’re both ashes. Hahaha!” Jaeger’s parents are German immigrants. He has dual citizenship, and he’s conspicuously proud of his heritage. Some guys call him a Nazi, neither approvingly nor disapprovingly, but in a boys-will-be-boys sort of way.
Bauer finds men from Arizona and Colorado to be the most represented on his base.
The Arizona guys, who run border ops year-round, feel that this is their turf. The 3UP leadership, however, is from Colorado. There might be a coup brewing. Why should Arizona report to Colorado? Should there even be a national leadership? Then there is the bigger question: how to unify the militia movement more broadly. 3UP has previously coordinated with Arizona Border Recon but does not currently do so. In these ever-tenuous militia alliances, leadership inevitably becomes a point of contention.
Bauer notes that Colorado, like many states, has an anti-terrorism law that prohibits training people to use guns to promote “civil disorder,” but he can’t find any evidence of militia groups being prosecuted under these laws.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of Bauer’s reporting is the collaboration between Border Patrol and militia groups.
Militia group members sit around the fire talking about the best ways to kill people with a knife, and then go on patrol where they stake out a rural home where a Latino family lives. They think the family must be connected to a cartel because they don’t see any cows on this “ranch.” And then Border Patrol agents show up to the camp to thank them for the work they do and tell them about routes to watch.
Go read the whole thing here.