Jim Urquhart had a tense introduction to the Oath Keepers in early 2015, but a medical emergency helped the Reuters journalist establish a level of trust with members of the one of the most prominent militias in the US.
Months later, that trust helped Urquhart gain access to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, where Ammon Bundy and others engaged in a 41-day standoff with the federal government.
In the wake of that encounter in Oregon, Urquhart met with members of the Oath Keepers and groups like it numerous times.
“I have since attended tactical defense training sessions, fired guns and camped out with members of those groups in Oregon, Idaho and Montana,” Urquhart writes.
“I’ve also spent time with men and women who didn’t identify with any specific group but a larger movement that they say is defending the U.S. Constitution.”
Urquhart listened with some empathy as these groups’ members described their concerns about the state of country, and, as someone who grew up in Utah, he felt some measure of familiarity as he spent time with them in the wilderness of the northwest.
Bundy and six others who were present at the Malheur Refuge were acquitted of conspiracy charges at the end of October, a ruling that has lent credence to much of what these militia groups believe.
“The groups see the ruling almost as a green light to further question government,” Urquhart writes. “They say they are even more confident in the constitution and all the more eager to protect it. They believe no matter the outcome of the presidential election, there’s going to be social strife and they’ve won the right to fight against it.”
In the photos below, a selection of images captured by Urquhart during his time with these groups, reveals what day-to-day life is like alongside these groups and their members.
Ammon Bundy talks to occupiers in an office at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, January 6, 2016.
Supporters of those arrested after the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge attend a rally in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 5, 2016.
Brandon Rapolla, a founder of the Pacific Patriots Network, leads a firearms handling and safety class in Grants Pass, Oregon, March 26, 2016.