Three Percenter Rebrands non-profit as disaster relief; “Escorts” Aid Workers into Bootleg Fire Zones.
As Southern Oregon communities continue to reel from massive wildfires, an Oregon Three Percenter has inserted his organization into disaster relief efforts.
Jesse Bonifer, of Athena, Oregon, recently became president of a small disaster relief non-profit, Relief Angels, members of whom are on the ground at the 394,000-acre Bootleg fire in Southeastern Oregon, not far from Klamath Falls.
Initially incorporated in 2005 as Emergency Equipment Solutions Inc. (EES), in January 2021, the group rebranded as “Relief Angels” shortly before Bonifer officially became president.
The rebranding may have taken place due to the 2019 conviction of former EES owner Tom Cotton on charges of stealing thousands of dollars of equipment belonging to the City of Burns. Cotton, who transferred the equipment to EES under a federal program, was sentenced to four years’ probation and 300 hours of community service.
In addition to running Relief Angels, Jesse Bonifer is a leader in a far-right paramilitary Three Percenter group. In late 2018 the East Oregonian described Bonifer as a leader of the Oregon Three Percenters of Umatilla County and, in early 2020, as a “regional liaison with the militia group Oregon III%.” According to IREHR records, Bonifer was a member of several Three Percenter and militia Facebook groups, including the Oregon III%, the “III% Militia national contingency” group, Oregon Uniting for Liberty, and Defend Hermiston & Eastern Oregon.
Bonifer has also been described as working closely with Oregon Three Percenter HollyJo Beers. Beers is also an area assistant in Oregon People’s Rights.
The Three Percenters, a network of paramilitary groups formed after the 2008 election of Barrack Obama and founded by militia figure Mike Vanderboegh, has used distorted readings of the U.S. Constitution and history to build its far-right brand of nationalism. The group’s name comes from the weakly-founded claim that three percent of colonists took up arms in the American revolution. To date, at least 6 Three Percenters and 16 Oath Keepers have been charged in connection to the January 6 nationalist insurrection in Washington D.C.
The Relief Angels website declares that its president, Bonifer, “prioritizes survival and The Constitution at the top of his list for important lessons to pass on.”
In 2020, Jesse Bonifer campaigned to declare 2nd Amendment “sanctuary ordinances” in several Oregon counties. A copy of an ordinance distributed by Bonifer stated that Umatilla County agencies, subdivisions, and employees would be unable to officially participate “in the enforcement of any act, law, order, rule, or regulation issued regarding a personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition.”
Bonifer discussed this activism last month in an interview on the far-right Redoubt News with Chris Brumbles. In 2016 Brumbles was identified by The St. Helens Chronicle as the Columbia County Coordinator of Oath Keepers. Before introducing Bonifer, Brumbles took up the spurious claims that “Critical Race Theory” is being taught in public schools and is “teaching kids to hate those pesky white folks,” a common claim made by white nationalists.
Three Percenters in control of “escorting” aid workers into burn areas is a troubling development in light of last year’s far-right hysteria around unsubstantiated claims that “Antifa” activists were responsible for lighting some of last year’s biggest wildfires. In fact, the opposite was true: many anarchist and anti-fascist outfits re-directed some of their mutual aid work to fire victims in suburban and rural areas of Oregon.
While IREHR strongly supports aid to victims of wildfires, we oppose leaders of far-right militias being allowed to insert themselves into disaster relief. Unfortunately, this can serve to legitimate these radically anti-democratic, and always potentially violent, groups in an area where Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights is already actively pitting white ranchers and farmers against sovereign tribal nations.
Special thanks to Klamath activist Courtney Neubauer for bringing this to our attention.
 Relief Angels. Facebook. July 21, 2021. https://www.facebook.com/ReliefangelsUSA/posts/4313020132069794
 Oregon Secretary of State. Corporation-Business Entity Filing Records. Corporation/Limited Liability Company – Information Change. Relief Angels. 325582-98. February 1, 2021. http://records.sos.state.or.us/ORSOSWebDrawer/Recordpdf/7836971; Oregon Secretary of State. Corporation-Business Entity Filing Records. Articles of Amendment. 325582-98. Emergency Equipment Solutions. January 25, 2021. http://records.sos.state.or.us/ORSOSWebDrawer/Recordpdf/7823139; Oregon Secretary of State. Corporation-Business Entity Filing Records. Articles of Incorporation for Emergency Equipment Solutions, Inc. 325582-98. December 23, 2005. http://records.sos.state.or.us/ORSOSWebDrawer/Recordpdf/7750307
 United States Department of Justice. Former Burns Municipal Airport Manager Sentenced to Probation for Stealing Surplus Federal Property. May 22, 2019. https://www.justice.gov/usao-or/pr/former-burns-municipal-airport-manager-sentenced-probation-stealing-surplus-federal.
 Ramakrishnanm Jayati. PENDLETON Group protests infringement of Second Amendment at rally. East Oregonian. December 13, 2018. https://www.eastoregonian.com/news/local/pendleton-group-protests-infringement-of-second-amendment-at-rally/article_79044b4e-2685-5d75-87c7-97cf33d0786d.html; Castle, Alex. Second Amendment sanctuary petitions circulate in Umatilla County. East Oregonian. February 6, 2020. https://www.eastoregonian.com/news/second-amendment-sanctuary-petitions-circulate-in-umatilla-county/article_8c99f744-452b-11ea-b63d-fff241c88bf0.html
 Choi, Joseph. “Feds charge members of Three Percenters militia group over Jan. 6 attack.” The Hill. June 10, 2021. https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/557901-feds-charge-members-of-three-percenters-militia-group-over-jan-6; Reuters. “Four more Oath Keepers indicted in Jan. 6 federal conspiracy case: court filing.” Reuters. June 1, 2021. https://www.reuters.com/world/us/four-more-oath-keepers-indicted-jan-6-federal-conspiracy-case-court-filing-2021-05-31/
 Castle, Alex. Second Amendment sanctuary petitions circulate in Umatilla County. East Oregonian. February 6, 2020. https://www.eastoregonian.com/news/second-amendment-sanctuary-petitions-circulate-in-umatilla-county/article_8c99f744-452b-11ea-b63d-fff241c88bf0.html
 “Trigger Warning With Special Guests Rob Taylor and Jesse Bonifer” Redoubt News. JHune 2021. https://redoubtnews.com/2021/06/trigger-warning-with-special-guests-rob-taylor-and-jesse-bonifer/
 Mann, Cody. “Advocates for 2nd Amendment propose preservation ordinance.” St. Helens Chronicle. November 16, 2016. https://www.thechronicleonline.com/news_paid/advocates-for-2nd-amendment-propose-preservation-ordinance/article_6c92867a-68af-11e6-b32a-c7f745f5badc.html
 Redout News. Trigger Warning. June 8, 2021. https://redoubtnews.com/2021/06/trigger-warning-with-special-guests-rob-taylor-and-jesse-bonifer/
 Molina, Alejandra. “In Oregon, churches and anti-fascists unite to provide mutual aid to fire evacuees and others in need.” Religious News Service. September 22, 2020. https://religionnews.com/2020/09/22/in-oregon-churches-and-anti-fascists-unite-to-provide-mutual-aid-to-fire-evacuees-and-others-in-need/