A far-right group created by anti-government activist Amon Bundy is rapidly growing nationwide and beginning to enter Canada, according to a new report from the Institute for Human Rights Research and Education (IREHR).
The rapid growth occurred despite legal issues faced by some of the top people’s rights leaders and continued even after some of the organization’s groups were removed from Facebook. The group has grown by about 53% over the past year, largely due to persistent anti-public health sentiment, according to the document.
People’s rights began in the more Republican Idaho region, which remains one of the states with the lowest vaccination rate in the country, with only 43% of its residents having a complete vaccination schedule against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The group now includes activists in 38 states, according to the report.
“I think the report underestimates their public power, because they’ve also forged alliances with different groups ranging from the Tea Party to the Proud Boys and anti-vaccine groups,” said Chuck Tanner, director of research at the International Institute for Human Rights. “In certain places they can mobilize at levels that have an impact on policy.”
People’s rights began in 2020 amid a wave of opposition to public health measures implemented at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Founded by Bundy, the group frequently organized protests in public health districts, state capitol buildings, schools, and outside government officials’ residences. The Institute for Human Rights and Human Rights’ report analyzed internal membership data from the People’s Rights Network.
Bundy, who is known for leading a group of armed activists in occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge in 2016 and is now one of several candidates in the Idaho gubernatorial race, did not immediately respond to phone messages or emails. Emails from The Associated Press seek comment.
Last year, the organization had just under 22,000 members nationwide, according to a report by the Institute for Human Rights and Human Rights and the Montana Human Rights Network. Now it’s grown by about 53%, according to a new IREHR report, so it has more than 33,000 members, including 400 official leaders in 38 states. The number also includes Canada’s more than 100 members – most of them are in Ontario – even though most of their political ideology centers on a marginal interpretation of the US Constitution and Christian nationalism, according to the report.
“Coffee fanatic. Gamer. Award-winning zombie lover. Student. Hardcore internet advocate. Twitter guru. Subtly charming bacon nerd. Thinker.”