Oath Keepers from Indiana: Here's what they said when they joined – IndyStar

As Indiana residents by the hundreds joined the Oath Keepers, a far-right extremist militia group, some boasted of their military training. Others cited their proficiency handling firearms and other weapons. Some bragged of their law enforcement experience.
“I gave an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America in the Unites States Army and the Lafayette Police Dept. I will defend that oath with my very last breath,” said a Lafayette man.
“I practice MMA…” a Portage man said. A Bloomfield resident added, “Stealth and covert movements. I was a very good stalker during my time in (the) service.”
“‘God, Family, Guns, Country’ is me in a nutshell,” a resident of Wolcottville said.
They all may have paid a price offering their assistance to the group — some more than $1,000 each.
Nearly 700 Indiana residents were listed as dues-paying members of the Oath Keepers in a massive trove of files the IndyStar obtained from Distributed Denial of Secrets, a nonprofit whistleblower organization, which released the leaked membership roles of the antigovernmental group last year.
Founded in 2009 by Steward Rhodes, the Oath Keepers actively recruited members of the military, law enforcement and other public-safety positions with the stated purpose of defending the U.S. Constitution against tyranny. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes them as an extremist militia.
From Missouri:Armed ‘Oath Keepers’ arrive in Ferguson
The Oath Keepers have “a long history of engaging in and promoting their own form of vigilantism by providing voluntary armed security, not affiliated with any law enforcement entity, at various protests and venues,” states the SPL, adding that members formed their own patrol in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of an unarmed Black man in 2014, and more patrols during the anniversary protest a year later.
At the time, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called the group’s presence “unnecessary and inflammatory.”
Hoosier Oath Keepers:Indiana elected officials, law enforcement on leaked list
Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism released more information about the Oath Keepers. The ADL reviewed upwards of 38,000 names of the group’s membership rosters, according to a recent AP report, in which it identified more than 370 people it believes currently work in law enforcement agencies — including as police chiefs and sheriffs — and more than 100 people who are current members of the military.
The list identified also dozens of people who were running for or who served in public service as of August — including 23 Indiana elected officials, first responders and military or law enforcement members.
Paid memberships to the Oath Keepers varied, beginning at the “Liberty Tree” level — $10 a month — up to a lifetime membership for $1,200, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Annual memberships were listed at around $50 a year.
In Indiana, 65 Hoosiers were listed as Liberty Tree members, 593 opted for an annual membership, and 38 residents across the state appear to have signed up to become lifetime members of the Oath Keepers, according to the leaked data.
More:Indiana state Rep. Christopher Judy identified on leaked Oath Keepers list
Entries listed under the paid membership rosters allowed users to add comments concerning their membership in the group, which the IndyStar has compiled below. Many comments from Indiana residents described how they could best support the Oath Keepers — from prior military and law enforcement training to experience with demolition.
The IndyStar has chosen not to name the people whose quotes are cited below, identifying them instead only by the city they listed when purportedly joining the Oath Keepers as well as their membership level. Appearing in the leaked database doesn’t necessarily mean the person was an active member of the group, nor does it indicate they fully understood or shared its ideology. Some people outed as members have since said they are no longer affiliated with the organization.
At least two dozen Oath Keeper members, including its founder, Rhodes, have since been arrested and charged in connection to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Among them include Michael Greene of Indianapolis, who was indicted on several charges tied to the insurrection.
An indictment states Greene participated in an online meeting Nov. 9, 2020, in which Rhodes outlined a plan to stop the transfer of presidential power. Rhodes later chose Greene to be an operations leader for Jan. 6 and Greene transported firearms, ammunition and other related items to Washington D.C. in early January 2021, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Columbus resident Jon Ryan Schaffer pleaded guilty to two charges, both felonies, tied to the Jan. 6 attack. Schaffer, an admitted Oath Keeper, was photographed inside the Capitol arguing with police and holding a can of “bear spray,” a pepper-based irritant. A sentencing hearing for Schaffer has not yet been scheduled.
Jan. 6:Here’s the latest on people with Indiana ties charged after the Capitol riot
John Tufts is the night editor for the USA TODAY Network in Indiana. Send him a news tip at JTufts@Gannett.com. IndyStar reporters Madison Smalstig and Kaitlin Lange contributed to this report.


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