homepage logo

Violent militia group flag flown by Merrimack GOP in July 4 parade

By DAMIEN FISHER - InDepthNH.org | Jul 14, 2022

The Merrimack Republican Town Committee July 4 parade float with the Three Percenters flag. (Facebook photo)

The Merrimack Republican Town Committee says it didn’t know that a flag displayed on its float during the Fourth of July parade is connected to a violent, insurrectionist militia.

“No, of course not,” said Ginger Heald, the chair of the committee.

The committee’s float displayed numerous flags meant to show historic, patriot flags, Heald said.

The problem is one of the flags is associated with the III Percenters, an anti-government militia group started in 2008 by Mike Vanderboegh, an Alabama-based anti-government extremist who had been involved in the militia movement for many years, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Heald said she had no idea that the flag was connected to the group and said the Merrimack Republican Town Committee does not support overthrowing the government.

“Absolutely not, anyone who knows the MRTC knows that,” Heald said.

Patricia Teden, chair of Merrimack Town Democratic Committee, said the use of the flag indicates how far right the town’s Republicans have become over the last several years.

“They used to be mainstream Republicans,” Teden said.

Republicans in town have traditionally been of the centrist variety, she said, but that started to change along with the rest of the Republican Party in the state. Teden blames the Free State Libertarian movement for pushing the New Hampshire GOP to extremes.

“Because of this marriage of the Republicans and Libertarians, the other Republicans who are ‘good Republicans’ are voting for these bills that are not mainstream bills. It’s just a different world,” Teden said.

Rep. Rosemarie Rung, D-Merrimack said: “Although it is disturbing to see the influence of extremist factions within the Merrimack GOP, voters now have a better idea of the candidates who will be on the ballot in November.”

Heald issued a statement on the flag, explaining that the committee had no intent to seemingly support extremism.

“The flag’s intent was to honor the small percentage of early colonists who stepped forward to begin the fight for liberty against the British during the Revolutionary War. It was their fighting spirit that helped build a modern nation. The intent was to acknowledge their patriotism and sacrifice that led to the liberties and freedoms we all enjoy today. It is reminiscent of the spirit of the American Revolution which is celebrated on July 4th,” the statement reads. “While it’s being reported to have negative connotations related to the beliefs of fringe right wing anti-government militia groups, we want to be clear that was most certainly not the intent of the Committee. Furthermore, anyone who is involved with the MRTC knows that the committee unequivocally does not support or promote any form of anti-government extremism, violence, anarchy, and militia or insurrectionist movements. The MRTC exist to promote traditional republican values especially the original and basic value … Freedom.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the III Percenters are a loosely connected group, with members joining or starting militias, and others taking up more political activism. Members of the III Percenters movement often engage in gun rights activism, and they frequently spread misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The term ‘Three Percenter’ refers to the erroneous belief that only 3% of colonists fought against the British during the Revolutionary War–but achieved liberty for everybody. Three Percenters view themselves as modern day versions of those revolutionaries, fighting against a tyrannical U.S. government rather than the British. With anyone able to declare themselves a Three Percenter, the concept allowed many people to join who were not suited, physically or by inclination, to engage in paramilitary activities. The Three Percenter logo–the Roman numeral III–has become very popular among anti-government extremists,” the Anti-Defamation League states.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, III Percenters groups have been involved in domestic terrorism, bombing an Islamic center, threatening to bomb the campus at Arkansas State University, and plotting to kill federal agency, among other incidents.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *