For many NPR listeners, the revelation by Lawrenceville auto mechanic Jimmy Arno was a shocker.
It came near the end of a 6-minute interview with “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep in a segment on voting sentiment in toss-up states called “Divided States.” Arno, a supporter of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, bemoaned the state of society and said he feared for the future.
“I want grandchildren, but the way this country is now, I don’t want to do that to these children,” he said. “If you go to a movie theater you are liable to get shot, if you go a mall you are liable to get shot. … If you go to Atlanta or a major city you are liable to get shot or attacked.”
Arno’s family made the news earlier this year when a 30-year-old woman dressed in conservative Muslim garb grabbed an American flag from their front yard and assaulted them. The motive for the attack was unclear, although some reports suggested the attackers mental health may have been an issue.
What Arno said next may have caught some off guard. He said he was considering joining a local militia group.
“Should martial law, civil war, whatever, break out in this country, they will uphold the Constitution and rebuild our laws,” Arno said.
Inskeep pressed: What war?
“The war that’s going to break out when Hillary Clinton is elected, if that happens,” he said. “Your patriots are going to overthrow the government.”
You can hear the full interview here.
Militia groups — particularly those who identify with the so-called “three percenter” movement — have been making news in Georgia over the past year. A group calling itself Georgia Security Force III%, lead by former Marine Chris Hill, were the camouflaged and heavily armed security for a series of pro-Confederate flag protests at Stone Mountain.
Those protests were in reaction to called to remove Confederate symbols from public spaces after a self-described white supremacist alleged killed nine people in a mass shooting at a black church in Charleston.
More recently, Georgia Security Force members staged protests against a proposed mosque in Newton County. For more on the extremist element aligned against the proposed mosque, click here.
In 2015, the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based non-profit that monitors extremist groups, identified nearly 1,000 “anti-government” groups in the nation, 22 of which are based in Georgia.