His father founded the Oath Keepers, went to prison. He's running for office as a Democrat

A year after a molotov cocktail attack on an Ohio church that was hosting an LGBTQ+ event, the church files a federal civil rights lawsuit against the group it says ran a months-long harassment campaign against it. Meanwhile, the son of the man who founded the far-right group the Oath Keepers is running for office in Montana — as a Democrat. And a judge in California lets a white supremacist off lightly because he believes prosecutors should be prosecuting leftists, too.

It’s the week in extremism.

Ohio Church, ADL, file suit against White Lives Matter

The Community Church of Chesterland, Ohio, a liberal, pro-LGBTQ+ congregation that was targeted by a campaign of harassment and violence last year, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday against members of a group called White Lives Matter.

Authorities submitted a photo of Aimenn Penny at a March 11, 2023 "White Lives Matter' protest in a criminal complaint.
Authorities submitted a photo of Aimenn Penny at a March 11, 2023 "White Lives Matter' protest in a criminal complaint.
  • The lawsuit, which requests a jury trial against four named and other unnamed members of the group, claims the defendants conspired to violate the church’s civil and property rights by throwing a Molotov cocktail at the church building last March “with the intent to burn it to the ground.”

  • The attack last March came as members of WLM were holding regular protests against the church and other Ohio institutions that expressed support for the LGBTQ+ community by holding drag events. One such event attended by WLM members attracted hundreds of protesters, some of whom chanted neo-Nazi slogans.

  • Two of the named defendants in the lawsuit are serving lengthy prison sentences for their involvement in the molotov cocktail attack.

The church is represented by the Anti-Defamation League and the law firm Jones Day.

The group's “actions in targeting a community church with a hate crime are not just morally abhorrent, they are a clear violation of federal civil rights and property law,” James Pasch, ADL’s senior director of national litigation said Wednesday.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes’ son runs for office

Dakota Adams, a 27-year-old college student and the son of Stewart Rhodes, who founded the far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers, is running as a candidate for the Montana  Legislature — as a Democrat.

  • Adams, who uses his mother’s maiden name, grew up in a home where Rhodes was a frequent, but not constant presence. As USA TODAY detailed in this 2021 story, Rhodes, a Yale-educated onetime attorney, was obsessed with conspiracy theories and with “prepping” for an eventual economic and social collapse.

  • Rhodes, who founded the nationwide organization the Oath Keepers in 2016, was convicted in 2022 of seditious conspiracy for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. He is serving a sentence of 18 years.

  • Adams told the radio station WBUR this week that his upbringing was “paranoia and isolation upon paranoia and isolation.” In his run for the state House, he said he hopes to inspire other young people to “execute a takeover of the political process by sane, ordinary people from the ground-up.”

“Stewart always did see the kids and I as merely extensions of himself,” Tasha Adams, Dakota’s mother and Rhodes’ ex-wife, told USA TODAY Thursday. “He viewed us as his personal property and would often look confused whenever any of us held a separate opinion from him. He just could not comprehend us as individual humans. This idea was concentrated heavily on Dakota being the eldest son. No doubt he does not see Dakota entering into politics as a Democrat as a young man making his own way in the world, but only as the deepest of betrayals.”

Judge frees man in white supremacist beating, says prosecutors ignore Antifa

Late last week a federal judge in California sentenced Tyler Laube to time served for his 2017 beating of a journalist during a protest. Laube, who was a member of a notorious white supremacist group at the time, deserved a light sentence because prosecutors have “ignored” extremists on the far-left including Antifa, the judge wrote in a sentencing memo.

  • As USA TODAY reported on Monday, Judge Cormac J. Carney’s sentencing took place just as the largest criminal case against anti-fascists in US history is in trial 80 miles away in San Diego.

  • Experts questioned Carney’s legal reasoning in letting Laube off the six months imprisonment prosecutors had asked for. “It's very hard for me to believe he (Carney) really has any accurate sense about what the relative prosecutions are of people on the left and the right in these assault cases,” John Donohue, a professor at Stanford Law School told USA TODAY. “That would take a much more sophisticated inquiry than some federal judge just opining off the top of his head.”

Laube is one of four members of the racist fight club the Rise Above Movement who are being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles for allegedly conspiring to riot at various rallies and protests in 2017 and 2018. The leader of RAM is still in custody.

Statistic of the week: 400

That’s how many incidents of threats and harassment were made against local public officials — elections, health, and education officials — in 43 states between Jan. 1, 2020, and Sept. 23, 2022, according to a new dataset from the Bridging Divides Initiative.

USA TODAY has been reporting on the increase in threats against public officials over the last few years. In the first three months of 2024, at least 30 people  in 18 states were federally charged with making threats, according to a team of researchers at the National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education Center at the University of Nebraska Omaha. The researchers said 2023 is on track to surpass 2023, which was a record year.

The BDI dataset specifically looks at local officials, and was compiled from more than 10,000 news articles.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Stewart Rhodes' son Dakota Adams runs for office in Montana