In an interview with the Daily Beast, a sheriff who oversees a region that is a hotbed of right-wing militia activity warned that what Americans witnessed on Jan 6th, when supporters of Donald Trump stormed the nation's Capitol, was not a one-time thing and more attacks can be expected.
Speaking with the Beast's Heath Druzin, Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich noted the country is only now beginning to see what militias can do.
According to Druzin, "As sheriff of Spokane County in eastern Washington for the past 15 years, Knezovich certainly knows about extremism. He oversees law enforcement in the heart of militia country, just a short drive over the Idaho border from what used to be the headquarters for the neo-Nazi group The Aryan Nations," with Druzin adding, "As the GOP continues its lurch off the deep end, with even some elected officials participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and state party leaders making common cause with militias, Knezovich, a Republican, is an outspoken voice against far-right extremism."
The sheriff, he notes, is no fan of protests from either the far right or the far left, writing, "Knezovich thinks America will be grappling with extremism for many years to come. But despite his stand against anti-government groups, he has also drawn the ire of social-justice advocates—and praise from some Republicans—for his habit of lumping in left-wing protesters with dangerous, far-right extremists."
"These are tyrants, these are true dictators that want to pull our country apart," Knezovich explained when discussing rightwing militias. "And they want to hide behind, 'Well, America was born out of revolution.'"
According to Kate Bitz, of the anti-extremism watchdog Western States Center, Knezovich is a bit of a mixed bag, but definitely knows what he is talking about.
In an interview, she told the Beast, "Knezovich has really intimate knowledge of just how ugly things can get for local elected officials and law enforcement when anti-democratic groups begin to build real local power. He is a lot more vocal about this issue than many other local elected officials and law enforcement leaders, which is great," before cautioning, "That said, his analysis of our local situation (in Eastern Washington) is very much wedded to this kind of 'both sides' conception of politics. So we've also seen him habitually describe groups that organize for racial justice as being supposedly equally dangerous to law enforcement as the far right."
According to the report, the sheriff stated that more moderate voters need to hit the voting booths come election time, which would help tamp down the rise of extremist politicians who help to incite violence against the very government they are a part of which led to him discussing the Jan 6th riot that occurred after former president Donald Trump incited "Stop the Steal" rallygoers to march on Congress.
"What happened on January 6 was the worst thing that I think I've ever seen happen in my nation, because that threatened the entire stability of this nation," he explained before predicting, "We will live through about 10 years of hard times, because that's the cycle of these things. And we're in at the very beginning of this."
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