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“”During the American Revolution, the active forces in the field against the King's tyranny never amounted to more than 3% of the colonists. Three Percenters today identify with this 3% because they were true patriots fighting for the freedoms the nation we love and honor was founded upon.
|—Three Percenters website in 2014|
The Three Percenters (3 Percenters, 3%ers and III%ers) is an extremist anti-government militia organization founded in 2008, after Barack Obama was first elected President, by a bunch of gun nuts who were afraid that he was gonna take their guns. Though the Three Percenters began in the United States based on anti-Tory mythology, the group established its first Canadian chapter in Alberta in 2017 despite Canada having been a refuge for fleeing Tories after the American Revolution. The foundational myth of the Three Percenters was that only 3% of American colonists fought against the British Empire; the actual percentage was in the range of 15-25% of the population (including women and children).
The original organization, now called The Three Percenters Original (TTPO), was co-founded by Michael "Mike" Brian Vanderboegh (c. 1952–2016), who had previously been a member of Alabama militia groups. From about 1969-1975, Vanderboegh was involved in various leftist and radical causes, including Students for a Democratic Society and the Socialist Workers Party. Vanderboegh said that after he read the book Road to Serfdom by Friedrich August von Hayek (of the Austrian school), he moved politically from left to right.:222–223 By the 1990s, he became active in the militia movement. Following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Vanderboegh promoted related conspiracy theories. In 2008, he started a blog called the Sipsey Street Irregulars, which he used to create the Three Percenters.
The Three Percenters are considered to belong to the larger 'patriot movement' that includes militias, sovereign citizens, and tax protesters. The last time that membership was listed was in 2015, when they claimed about 470 members.
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
After Cliven Bundy, a sovereign citizen of Nevada, fought the Federal government over his 'right' to do whatever he wanted on Federal land, he moved on with his well-armed sons and buddies to take over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016 (though Bundy has claimed to be a citizen of Nevada, not the US). This asinine takeover was based on their pseudolaw idea that the Federal government was required to turnover most of the land that it owns within states to the respective states themselves. The Bundys were joined by the Pacific Patriots Network, an umbrella group that includes regional Three Percenters (Idaho and Oregon) and Oath Keepers groups. The weeks-long armed standoff with law enforcement resulted in the death of one of the participants, LaVoy Finicum.
2021 U.S. Capitol riot
The Three Percenters had some noticeable presence at the 2021 Capitol riot-cum-insurrection based on photographic evidence of insignia. At least three Three Percenters were charged with crimes at the riot.
- Robert Gieswein of Colorado. Gieswein is also a Proud Boys and Oath Keepers member, and runs a paramilitary training group. He was charged with assaulting police, civil disorder and obstruction of police and government.
- Guy Wesley Reffitt of Texas, according to his wife, he threatened to kill their children if they turned him in. He was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly threatening his family and unlawful entry into the Capitol.
- Patrick McCaughey III[note 1] of New York allegedly dragged a beaten police officer down the Capitol steps. He was charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers, and using a dangerous weapon.
- "Chris Miller, a Republican member of the Illinois General Assembly, had a decal of the Three Percenters anti-government movement prominently displayed on his truck while it was parked at the East Front of the Capitol — an area that was highly restricted Jan. 6." Miller denied that he knew what the symbol meant even though it was large and prominent. The denial rings hollow since his views are more-or-less in alignment with Three Percenters, Immediately before the insurrection, he went so far as to call Democrats "terrorists" and to say, "we’re engaged in a great culture war to see which worldview will survive." Miller is married to US Representative Mary E. Miller (R-IL). Mary Miller was forced to apologize for paraphrasing Hitler at the pre-insurrection Trump rally.
The post-2021 U.S. Capitol riot Three Percenters Original website briefly maintained their original bravado on January 7 ("…We will combat all those who are corrupt. We are America's insurance policy. We will not see our republic fall. …"). However in the face of serious charges against some Three Percenters, TTPO quickly folded their cards and dissolved their organization, claiming that their Three Percenters group did nothing wrong, it was some other Three Percenters ("We did not conspire or participate in the Jan 6 DC riots and Capitol breach and we condemn the actions of those that did. "). There was no formal membership for Three Percenters, one merely had to say that one was a member, a convenient escape hatch. There were once many chapters of the Three Percenters. If one puts a bunch of belligerent assholes in the same space for long enough, there's gonna be a blowup, and hence there have been numerous schisms from TTPO.
Did you know that American colonists shot at the Redcoats during the revolution with AR-15 semi-automatic rifles? They also recited The Pledge of Allegiance, which did not exist until a century later.
- Michael Brian Vanderboegh Southern Poverty Law Center
- Some of the archived member images of TTPO:
- The Three Percenters Original — current page
- Three Percenters, such as this character, will sometimes append a 'III' after their name to indicate membership.
- *The Three Percenters (archived website from January 21, 2014)
- Antigovernment Movement Southern Poverty Law Center.
- Three Percenters are Canada's 'most dangerous' extremist group, say some experts: Far-right group says it welcomes everyone, but some who've studied it say it's an anti-Muslim militia by Kristy Hutter (Posted: May 10, 2018 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: May 10, 2018) CBC News.
- Inside Canada's Armed, Anti-Islamic 'Patriot' Group by Mack Lamoureux (June 14, 2017, 9:34am) Vice.
- More Americans Fought in the American Revolution Than We Thought: Our founders fought a hard, popular war for freedom by John A. Tures (07/03/17 6:30am) Observer.
- Longtime militia and 'Patriot' leader Mike Vanderboegh dies at 64 by Judy L. Thomas (August 10, 2016 11:43 AM, Updated August 10, 2016 02:37 PM) The Kansas City Star.
- Profile on the Right: Three Percenters by Spencer Sunshine (January 5, 2016) Political Research Associates.
- Mike Vanderboegh collection Ohio History Connection.
- Wingnuts: Extremism in the Age of Obama by John P. Avlon (2014) Beast Books. 2nd ed. ISBN 9780991247608.
- Three Percenters ADL.
- Sipsey Street Irregulars
- See the Wikipedia article on Patriot movement.
- Members The Three Percenters (archived from August 3, 2015).
- See the Wikipedia article on Timeline of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
- United States of America vs. Cliven Bundy, 1998
- There's Another Armed Group In Burns And It's Not The Bundys by Amanda Peacher (Jan. 10, 2016 8:55 a.m.) Oregon Public Broadcasting.
- Partners Pacific Patriots Network (archived from July 13, 2016).
- FBI moves on alleged members of extremist groups Oath Keepers, Three Percenters by Devlin Barrett & Spencer S. Hsu (Jan. 17, 2021 at 11:33 p.m. PST) The Washington Post.
- Texas man at Capitol riot allegedly threatened to kill his kids if they turned him in: 'Traitors get shot' by Jaclyn Peiser (Jan. 19, 2021 at 1:02 a.m. PST) The Washington Post.
- Capitol riot latest: Man who allegedly dragged beaten officer down steps charged by Luke Barr et al. (January 22, 2021, 4:30 PM) ABC News.
- Investigations regarding violence at the Capitol. United States Department of Justice.
- Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Feds: Evidence shows well-laid plan by some Capitol insurrectionists. Politico, 20 January 2021.
- 'Three percenters' truck at Capitol belongs to husband of congresswoman who said, 'Hitler was right on one thing' by Kim Bellware (Feb. 27, 2021 at 5:26 p.m. PST) The Washington Post.
- Three Percenter Truck at Capitol on Jan. 6 Belongs to Hitler-Quoting Rep's Husband by Adam Rawnsley et al. (Updated Feb. 26, 2021 10:10AM ET / Published Feb. 25, 2021 11:33PM ET) The Daily Beast.
- Illinois Republican congresswoman apologizes for invoking Hitler as she faces calls to resign by Veronica Stracqualursi (Updated 3:47 PM ET, Sat January 9, 2021) CNN.
- The Three Percenters Original (archived from January 7, 2021).
- TTPO's Final Statement (Feb 21, 2021) The Three Percenters Original.
- Three Percenters Original (archived from March 1, 2021).
- Three Percent Security Force’s Split Highlights Plague of Infighting (September 06, 2019) Southern Poverty Law Center.
- Office Space (5/5) Movie CLIP - Joanna Quits With Flair (1999) HD (Aug 11, 2015) YouTube.
- “Learn Some F*cking History” by Donna Zuckerberg (Oct 5, 2017) Eidolon.