Thursday, 4 Jun 2020

State militia ‘inundated’ with people wanting to join up during coronavirus crisis and vow they are ready for action

CALIFORNIA’S state militia group say they’ve seen a huge upturn in people wanting to enlist during the coronavirus crisis.

Major Darrel Pague, regiment commander of the California State Militia, says he's been inundated with inquiries and vowed that he and his eight companies are ready to step in and help wherever necessary as the crisis worsens.

And he warned that civil unrest, martial law and cuts in food and gas supply are all possibilities – that people should be prepared for.

“I think this Covid-19 crisis has made people wake up and realize that you have to rely on yourself, you can't rely on government to help you out," Major Pague told The Sun.

"At the beginning of this they were telling us 'Don't wear a mask unless you're sick' and now they are coming out and saying, 'Oh yeah, you should be wearing masks.'

"They're not very organized, I tell people all the time, don't rely on them to be there…everything the government puts their hands on and tries to run – it's just too much bureaucracy, too much red tape, too much c**p.

"You're going to be last in a line. You need to consider yourself, you need to protect your family, your communities, be prepared, get out there and be involved."

Major Pague says he has around 300 to 500 active members of the 2nd Infantry Regiment, who train regularly, across the state of California – but even more inactive members and supporters who could be called upon in a crisis.

"If things were to get really, really bad, I'd say there's probably thousands that if we put the call out we could get together," he said.

And while he was used to getting around 30 inquiries a month from people wanting to join up, he says he and his fellow militia leaders have all received hundreds of inquiries a week since the start of the crisis – so many that his email inbox became full.

State militia groups are self-funded military groups and California's State Militia is permitted by both US and state law.

Major Pague, who lives in the San Bernadino area, California, said most militia groups exist to protect and support their local communities – like a state guard, run by private citizens not the government.

While some associate the word militia with maverick groups seeking to overthrow the government, Major Pague says his group and most other militia groups are not anti-government and exist to protect the constitution.

State militia are often quick to help following natural disasters – as they do not have to wait on a government decision to mobilize them.

He said members of his militia group had already been helping at hospitals and food banks – and that the captain of each company has reached out to their local law enforcement to offer their help if needed as the COVID-19 crisis continues to grip the US.

But he warned people that unless people start abiding to social distancing and shelter in place directives – the local and national governments may be forced to enact martial law.

"I believe in what president Trump said – this will get worse before it gets better," Major Pague, said.

"The incubation period that they're talking about, here in the US, we're just getting to the middle of that portion … and people aren't adhering to the shelter in place rules, they still think they can go do whatever they like.

"If you don't abide by their rules, you're going to make them bring in the National Guard to deal with law enforcement. They will have a lockdown and implement a Stafford Act, a martial law and everybody's going to be upset .

"As of right now, you can go to the store and you can get food, you can fill your gas tank up.

"But if they enact martial law you're not going to be allowed out at all."

He also believes there is possibility of riots and civil unrest as people deal with economic hardship, increased stress levels and lack of supplies.

"If anything in the supply chain gets cut down to where people can't get what they need, they're going to panic, when they can't access  money in their banks or fill their cars up – they're going to freak out," he said.

"And what do stupid people do? They feel they are entitled and they go and steal from other people, people seen as weaker or elderly or young and stuff.

"I hope that doesn't happen but we've seen in history that these scenarios can happen, look at Ferguson, Missouri where people didn't agree on certain things and they went around burning buildings and businesses just to get their point across."

Major Pague said his company – and other state militias around the US – are trained to help deal with civil unrest – and are willing and able to step in and support law enforcement should the need arise.

"We do do a lot on how to deal with civil unrest such as scenarios mapped up and stuff like that… how to deal with things with weapons and also hand to hand because you may not be able to use a weapon in certain situations," he said.

"You have to learn how to keep somebody down without hurting him hopefully and subdue them and keep them under your control, put them in zip tie handcuffs or whatever if they're being unruly.

"But we're not going to do anything against our law enforcement."

While the California State Militia hopes that the upturn in inquiries will lead to more members – Major Pague said they have to be careful to background check everybody.

All new recruits must undergo a stringent background testing, interviews as well as completing FEMA training – before undertaking in-depth training with their local company.

"We are very well trained. As an organization, we train monthly, every third weekend we spent a whole weekend," Major Pague said.

"It's like in the reserves of the military, we go out and spend a whole weekend out there, turning out different scenarios and then in between that squads do homework."

He said they had to be careful as they do often attract inquiries from conspiracy theorists or people with bad motives.

“We are trying to change the perception of the word militia," he said.

"Of course there are bad militia groups out there that stand for different things but we have strict rules, guidelines and operational procedures.

"People in our organization are not allowed to do rogue things. We're not anti-government and the organization is non-partisan.

"We would never try to over throw the government – that's stupid. Even though we have hundreds of members we don't stand a chance. The role of the modern day militia is that we're the state guard.

"We don't like to be labelled as a paramilitary group – that's against the law – we are an elite community emergency response team.

"We're not there to replace the military but we are here to protect our communities and our state.

"Of course if the government decided to come through here and take all our weapons from us, they might have a bit of a problem, but that's not what we're looking at here, we want to be partners not foes."

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