A new paramilitary group is handling security for MAGA events and gathering "intelligence" against Donald Trump's political enemies.
The 1st Amendment Praetorian, whose volunteer members wear black T-shirts with their Roman-helmet logos, were on the lookout for anti-fascist activists at a QAnon conference last month in Dallas, but turned their attention to kicking out reporters after the antifa threat failed to materialize, reported The Daily Beast.
"There's a shadow underbelly to all of our society," said the group's founder, former Green Beret Robert Patrick Lewis. "We can't allow things to continue as they are."
The decorated former staff sergeant says his group consists entirely of military veterans, law enforcement and the intelligence community, and Lewis said their activities are necessary to protect against Antifa massacres in the suburbs and a continent-spanning conspiracy between liberals and Chinese special forces to undermine the United States.
"It does seem like there are groups in this country that very much want to see any number of outcomes of violence," said Lewis, insisting his group was playing defense rather than instigating violence. "I am surprised and happy — pleasantly surprised — that the American public has been able to manage their temper, for the lack of a better word."
However, he seems to believe civil war is inevitable.
"If we do come to a point where there is violence in this country, our adversaries will start to come in and it will become a battleground, the United States will become a battleground," Lewis told the right-wing New Tang Dynasty, an affiliate of the Epoch Times. "I was in the Army, I was a Green Beret, so I've been in war zones. I don't want to see that here. I've got a family, I've got kids. I hope that we can stop it before it comes to that point, but if we don't, there are a lot of people that are not going to go back to sleep, they're not going to sit down, they're not going to allow it to happen."
Lewis has been on the conservative movement's fringes since returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009, but he's worked his way closer to the MAGA mainstream -- and former Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn -- by embracing the QAnon conspiracy theory."1st Praetorian helps us; they now need our help," Flynn tweeted, tagging right-wing broadcasters Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. "Consider donating to support these American Patriots."
Very proud moment from the For God & Country Patriot Roundup. I may be the guy in the picture but the distinction… https://t.co/KTgJutsAGx— Robert Patrick Lewis (@Robert Patrick Lewis) 1622418063.0
Lewis tweeted a photo of himself, Flynn and then-Texas GOP chairman Allen West at the QAnon event last month in Dallas holding a Pine Tree flag, a Revolutionary War relic that's been embraced by Christian nationalists.
"Very proud moment from the For God & Country Patriot Roundup," Lewis tweeted. "I may be the guy in the picture but the distinction was earned by the entire 1st Amendment Praetorian team."
Lewis was present at the "Stop The Steal" rally ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection, although there's no evidence that he went inside the U.S. Capitol -- although he tweeted his apparent support minutes before the perimeter was breached.
"Today is the day the true battles begin," he tweeted at 2:18 p.m. that day.