As publisher of Prescott eNews, I am pleased to welcome Jim Arroyo, and the Chino Valley Chapter of the Oath Keepers to our growing roster of videotaped podcasts. The Chino Valley group has been active since 2015, and is affiliated with the national Oath Keepers, a patriot group of former law enforcement and military personnel who have sworn to defend the constitutional rights of the American people and serve as “guardians of the Republic.” The “oath” they have sworn to keep is the oath they once took as police officers and soldiers to “support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.”
The Oath Keepers was founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, a former US Army paratrooper and graduate of Yale Law School. Simply stated, the mission of the Oath Keepers is to protect the constitutional and natural rights of the American people from government overreach and abuse of power. Although originally founded for former police and military personnel, associate membership is open to all who support the mission. Key principles are set forth in the Oath Keeper’s Declaration of Orders We will Not Obey. These refusals include carrying out any order that violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms, refusal to confiscate food and emergency supplies from the people, and refusal to support foreign troops such as UN peacekeepers on American soil.
The Oath Keepers have been denounced by leftists and statists for holding anti-government views. In fairness, the organizing principles and mission of the Oath Keepers do express skepticism toward unchecked government power. But the same can be said for the writings of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and other founders of the American Republic. Within America’s founding documents is a healthy distrust of government power and the potential for abuse. A government of limited powers is foundational to the American tradition of personal freedom and representative government.
In 2019, members of the local Oath Keepers founded the Yavapai County Preparedness Team, to emphasize their role as first responders in the event of natural or man made disasters or a breakdown in civil order that overwhelms the police and military authorities. Are these realistic possibilities we should prepare for?
In answering this question, one should consider the bare shelves at grocery stores during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider the forest fires and evacuations in California and elsewhere. Or the riots and looting that have engulfed major American cities as a result of racial tensions and the breakdown of civil order. And what is the possibility of another pandemic or a cyberattack on vital infrastructure or an international financial collapse? Can we honestly say such catastrophic events are so unlikely they should not be prepared for?
In the event of a crisis, just how safe is our food and medical supply chain? Can we safely assume the government will always be there to provide essential services? In a time of natural disaster or civil disorder, can we take for granted that a call for help to 911 will always bring a prompt response?
The Oath Keepers and the Yavapai County Preparedness Team believe that the evidence is all around us that natural and man made disasters are inevitable. We cannot stop them from happening. But we can be prepared. We can free ourselves from total dependence on government services. We can educate ourselves and our neighbors on the resources available to survive and overcome the challenges of a temporary societal breakdown.
At Prescott eNews we believe that the Oath Keepers and the Yavapai County Preparedness Team represent a grassroots effort by local citizens to create structures in our community that will allow us to help ourselves, our families and our neighbors in a time of crisis. We are committed to providing a platform for this vital public service.
We do so with full awareness that the Oath Keepers, like many other patriot groups supporting constitutional values and American heritage, have come under attack from the left. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have described the Oath Keepers as a far right, armed militia group given to anti-government conspiracy theories.
Since 2016, I have attended a number of Oath Keeper meetings in Chino Valley and been invited to speak during political campaigns. To my knowledge, many other local officials and candidates including Rep. Noel Campbell, Sheriff Scott Mascher, Sheriff-elect David Rhodes, County Attorney Sheila Polk, County Supervisor Craig Brown and Representative-elect Judy Burgess have all spoken and been warmly received at Oath Keeper meetings. Representative-elect Quang Nguyen, a Vietnamese refugee, recently spoke to a standing room only crowd about his life under communism and his support for the Second Amendment. I have heard nothing to suggest that the Chino Valley Oath Keepers are a militia group or anti-government conspiracy theorists or are opposed to the government. In fact, they begin every meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance “to the United States of America and the Republic for which it stands.”
I have also examined the By Laws of the Oath Keepers and find that under Section 8.02(a), that anyone who advocates the overthrow of the United States government is explicitly excluded from membership. Under Section 8.02(b), anyone who advocates “discrimination, violence or hatred” based on “ race, creed, nationality or color”, is ineligible for membership. In short, I find no basis to believe that the Oath Keepers are anything other than what they claim to be, i.e. a law abiding group of patriots dedicated to defending the constitutional rights of the American people and serving as first responders in time of crises.
Unless and until we see convincing evidence to the contrary, the Oath Keepers and the Yavapai County Preparedness Team are welcome members of the Prescott eNews family of contributors. Beginning today, readers can find their weekly videocasts here.