On September 9, in Wichita, Kansas, a “constitutional rights rally” was organized by Wichita for Trump and co-sponsored by III% United Patriots. An online retail outlet named American Warrior Revolution (AWR), that sells t-shirts with the Three Percenters logo, also co-sponsored the event.
About four dozen people gathered in front of the City Hall. About half wore the Three Percenters’ militia logo. Others were wearing Info Wars tee-shirts. The Gadsden Flag, made popular at Tea Party events, was prominent. As were “Trump” flags. Almost all were visibly armed. Handguns protruded from waistbands, loaded holsters and extra magazines were hooked on belts. A handful of the Three Percenters were from Colorado Springs, Colorado. The rest were from across the Kansas City area or from Kansas, led by their Executive Director, Jeremy Ring.
Three Presenters spoke about their need to continue to organize in their places of worship, and among their family and friends. All were encouraged to get involved in local politics, attend school board meetings and PTA meetings. If something was happening in their community, they were urged to attend and prominently displaying their firearms.
After a long series of speakers, they marched around City Hall, escorted by police cars on all sides. They marched down the center of the street, blocking off all four lanes of traffic, and chanted throughout their route.
Notably, not one organization nor soul in Wichita stood to counter-protest to this march and rally.
A Threeper logo, three Roman numerals surrounded by 13 stars, has become a regular sight at rallies in the Midwest. They claim to take their name from the historically questionable notion that only three percent of the colonists fought during the War for Independence. Today, these Three Percenters see themselves as a similarly small minority, who are willing to take up arms too; as they say to “be the last defense to protect the citizens of the United States if there ever comes a day when our government takes up arms against the American people.” This concept was popularized by Mike Vanderboegh in 2008 after the election of Barak Obama. And this militia gained a bit of steam after 2009, alongside the Tea Party movement.
In 2013, a group led by Mike Morris broke off and created “III% United Patriots” or “3UP.” The Three Percenters began to grow quickly after the standoff at the Cliven Bundy Ranch in 2014. Then the armed occupation Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon in January 2016 set them on fire. Then Vanderboegh died in August of 2016, his son shut his Three Percenters website down, and a new movement was in the making.
All Three Percenter factions suffer from a bit of ideological confusion and obfuscation. They claim that they are not racists. The opposite is true. For example, they claim that the Black Lives Matter grouping have a constitutional right to free speech with one breath, but with the next condemn them as the cause of racial strife currently rippling through the United States.
In their less than a decade existence, the Three Percenters have taken up arms against the federal government twice. In Charlottesville, they have tried to make the same false equivalency as President Trump, equating Antifa and Black Lives Matter as equally a threat as the KKK and Neo-Nazi. Saying they were in Charlottesville, and subsequent cities, to defend Confederate statues from all groups. This stance put them squarely on the side of the white supremacist. Their militarized presence in Charlottesville was at best a failure to prevent the violence that ensued; at worst they created more confusion and exacerbated the violence.
The Three Percenters presence at rallies in Kansas City and in Kansas State is new. The same day as the militia rally in Wichita, which drew no counter-protestors, about 50 protesters gathered in Kansas City against white supremacy. No racist appeared at the Kansas City event.