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Oath Keepers plan to provide protection to Trump supporters during Dallas rally

By NIC GARCIA | The Dallas Morning News | Published: October 12, 2019

(Tribune News Service) — The Secret Service and Dallas Police Department will have a little extra "help" Thursday when President Donald Trump speaks in Dallas – whether they like it or not.

A loosely organized militia made up of military veterans and retired police officers plan to provide protection for Trump supporters from what they consider far-left violent extremists outside American Airlines Center, said Stewart Rhodes, a leader for the group Oath Keepers.

"We're running escorts to and from the rally," Rhodes said. "Our biggest focus is when [rally attendees] leave at night. That's when they're most in danger of being attacked."

Oath Keepers has been described by the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist group, a designation Rhodes rebuffs.

"We're the right wing version of the ACLU. I'm not an anarchist," Rhodes said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News from Minneapolis, where he was coordinating his volunteers before a Trump rally. "It's just slander."

Rhodes said his volunteers who are licensed to carry weapons may be armed, but their weapons will be out of sight.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that members of Oath Keepers were briefly detained after a bystander reported seeing men with weapons at a nearby hotel after the Trump rally. Rhodes characterized it as a misunderstanding.

This won't be the first time Oath Keepers participates at a Trump rally. They were on hand during Trump's February rally in El Paso. And the group has pledged to continue monitoring Trump rallies through Election Day.

Dallas police declined to comment on the role Oath Keepers plans to play next week, referring questions to the Secret Service.

Earlier this week, a tweet sent from the Oath Keepers main account suggested the group would also attend Beto O'Rourke's rally in Grand Prairie. However, Rhodes said his organization will focus on the Trump event.

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