The need for strong, independent local journalism
is more urgent than ever. Please support the city we
love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

Oregon Militia Members Say They’re Traveling to the Border to Confront the Migrant Caravan

"You got other militias, and husbands and wives, people coming from Oregon, Indiana."

As President Donald Trump stokes fears about a migrant caravan heading to the  United States, right-wing militia groups claim they are traveling south to defend the border.

A Washington Post report today says the militia members include Oregonians.

Shannon McGauley, a bail bondsman from outside Dallas, Tex., told the Post that he is organizing an armed militia group of at least 100 people to guard the border from the caravan.

"I can't put a number on it," McGauley he told the Post. "My phone's been ringing nonstop for the last seven days. You got other militias, and husbands and wives, people coming from Oregon, Indiana. We've even got two from Canada."

The caravan, made up of Central American migrants fleeing political persecution or poverty, is currently traveling through Mexico. The president, who regularly traffics in anti-immigrant paranoia, has painted this group as a threat to national security in advance of Tuesday's election.

It's not clear how many Oregonians, if any, are in fact joining McGauly's group. But on Oct. 26, an Oregon woman named Monica Marin told the Associated Press she had raised $4,000 to help militias buy supplies.

"I see young, fighting-age men who do not look like they're starving. They look like they're ready to fight," Marin said. At the same time, she said: "We're trained. We're not hotheads. We're not out there to shoot people."

Oregon has plenty of right-wing paramilitary groups, including anti-government groups called the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers who have rallied around Trump. And of course Oregon was the site of a standoff between armed right-wing protesters and the federal government—although most of those wildlife refuge occupiers were visiting from out of state.

But experts in American extremism have warned in the wake of today's Post story to take the claims of militias with a grain of salt.

"Reporters should keep in mind," says extremism scholar JJ MacNab, "that militia members talk tough online but rarely actually show up."