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Home In The Grange

Matt Marshall Washington III Percent
Heath Druzin
Matt Marshall, the founder of the Washington III Percent militia, shows off his sidearm during a militia rally on Whidbey Island, Wash., in October 2020. Members of the militia and other far-right activists have been battling with progressive islanders over the direction of local government, a microcosm of a larger militia and far-right strategy of targeting local elections.

The hubbub began on once-sleepy South Whidbey Island, Washington in 2020, and it began in the unlikeliest of places: a local grange hall. A militia group, the Washington III Percent, quietly took over the small, agriculture-centered community center and started shutting everyone else out. Then they took aim at local schools, where students were demanding more inclusion for LGBTQ+ students and students of color.

It’s a small but revealing skirmish in the larger culture war militias and other far-right groups have been spearheading: taking aim at local elections that fly far under most people’s radars — like school boards — to reshape their communities in their unyielding right-wing mold.