US militia readies for Clinton presidency, civil unrest as Election Day nears

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JACKSON, Ga., Nov 2 (Reuters) - Down a Georgia country road, camouflaged members of the Three Percent Security Force have mobilized for rifle practice, hand-to-hand combat training -- and an impromptu campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

"How many people are voting for Trump? Ooh-rah!" asks Chris Hill, a paralegal who goes by the code name "Bloodagent."

"Ooh-rah!" shout a dozen militia members in response, as morning sunlight sifted through the trees last weekend.

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Protesters clash with Trump supporters in San Jose
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Protesters clash with Trump supporters in San Jose
Victor Cristobal (C), of San Jose, chants during a demonstration outside a campaign rally for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A supporter for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump covers his ears as he walks past a demonstrator outside a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts after she was surrounded and egged by demonstrators after a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Demonstrators chant around a car during a demonstration against Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump after his campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A demonstrator burns a hat in protest of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump outside a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A supporter (C) of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump collides with another man after he was confronted by demonstrators outside a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A police officer gestures to a supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump after he was harassed by demonstrators at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A demonstrator (L) flips the hat off a supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump after a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump runs after being confronted by demonstrators after a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts after she was surrounded and egged by demonstrators after a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A supporter for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) exchange words with a demonstrator during a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Protesters hold up signs against a police skirmish line near where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a rally in San Jose, California on June 02, 2016. Protesters attacked Trump supporters as they left the rally, burned an american flag, trump paraphernalia and scuffled with police and each other. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Trump protesters demonstrate outside the convention center where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held an election rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Trump protesters attack a Trump supporter (C) as he tries to leave a parking garage at the convention center where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held an election rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Trump protesters confront Trump supporters as they try to leave a parking garage at the convention center where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held an election rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Police move in to disperse anti-Trump protesters as they demonstrate outside the convention center where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held an election rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Trump protesters demonstrate outside the convention center where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held an election rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A youth (C) wearing a Donald Trump t-shirt runs as he is chased by protesters near the venue where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was speaking during a rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters climb atop a car stopped in traffic as a crowd marches near the venue where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was speaking during a rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman wearing a Trump shirt (C) is pelted with eggs by protesters while pinned against a door near where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a rally in San Jose, California on June 02, 2016. Protesters attacked Trump supporters as they left the rally, burned an american flag, trump paraphernalia and scuffled with police and each other. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A Trump hat burns during a protest near where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held a rally in San Jose, California on June 02, 2016. Protesters attacked trump supporters as they left the rally, burned an american flag, Trump paraphernalia and scuffled with police and each other. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman wipes egg off her face after being pursued by protesters while leaving Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign rally on Thursday, June 2, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. A group of protesters attacked Trump supporters who were leaving the presidential candidate's rally in San Jose on Thursday night. A dozen or more people were punched, at least one person was pelted with an egg and Trump hats grabbed from supporters were set on fire on the ground. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Police form a line to contain protesters outside a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday, June 2, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Protesters against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump chase a man leaving a Trump campaign rally on Thursday, June 2, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. A group of protesters attacked Trump supporters who were leaving the presidential candidate's rally in San Jose on Thursday night. A dozen or more people were punched, at least one person was pelted with an egg and Trump hats grabbed from supporters were set on fire on the ground. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
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As the most divisive presidential election in recent memory nears its conclusion, some armed militia groups are preparing for the possibility of a stolen election on Nov. 8 and civil unrest in the days following a victory by Democrat Hillary Clinton.

They say they won't fire the first shot, but they're not planning to leave their guns at home, either.

Trump's populist campaign has energized militia members like Hill, who admire the Republican mogul's promise to deport illegal immigrants, stop Muslims from entering the country and build a wall along the Mexico border. Trump has repeatedly warned that the election may be "rigged," and has said he may not respect the results if he does not win. At least one paramilitary group, the Oath Keepers, has called on members to monitor voting sites for signs of fraud

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Armed paramilitary groups first gained prominence in the early 1990s, fueled by confrontations in Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas, culminating in a militia sympathizer's 1995 bombing of a federal office building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people.

Their numbers dwindled following that attack but have spiked in recent years, driven by fears that President Barack Obama will threaten gun ownership and erode the power of local government. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, estimates there were 276 active militias last year, up from 42 in 2008.

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In recent years, armed groups have confronted federal authorities in a series of land-use disputes in the western United States. Federal officials fear more clashes could come after seven militants were acquitted on conspiracy charges for occupying a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon.

Many fear Clinton would push the county further to the left.

"This is the last chance to save America from ruin," Hill said. "I'm surprised I was able to survive or suffer through eight years of Obama without literally going insane, but Hillary is going to be more of the same."

EXTREMIST GROUPS EMBOLDENED

The Oath Keepers, a prominent anti-government force that sent gun-toting members to the 2014 race riots in Ferguson, Missouri, called on members last week to monitor voting sites on election day for any signs of fraud.

An hour south of Atlanta, the Three Percent Security Force started the day around the campfire, taking turns shooting automatic pistols and rifles at a makeshift target range. They whooped with approval when blasts from one member's high-powered rifle knocked down a tree.

The group operates independently, but is affiliated with a national armed movement that calls for members to defend individual rights in the face of what they see as an overreaching federal government. The movement draws its name from the notion that no more than 3 percent of the American population fought in the Revolutionary War against Britain.

Amid the war games, Hill weighed plans for a possible armed march on Washington if Clinton wins.

He said he doesn't want his members leading the way, but they will defend the protesters if need be. His group will not hesitate to act if a President Clinton tries to disarm gun owners, he said.

RELATED: Hillary Clinton addresses FBI email probe

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Hillary Clinton addresses FBI email probe

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a news conference at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. The FBI dropped what amounts to a political bomb on the Clinton campaign on Friday when it announced it was investigating whether new emails involving the Democratic presidential nominee contain classified information.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, right, accompanied by campaign manager Robby Mook, second from right, and traveling press secretary Nick Merrill, second from left, departs after speaking at a news conference at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. Clinton is calling on the FBI to release more information about its review of emails that may be related to its investigation into her private server.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

DES MOINES, IA - OCTOBER 28: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to reporters following a campaign rally at Roosevelt High School on October 28, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. With less than two weeks to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Iowa.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, center, accompanied by traveling press secretary Nick Merrill, left, arrives to speak at a news conference at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. The FBI dropped what amounts to a political bomb on the Clinton campaign on Friday when it announced it was investigating whether new emails involving the Democratic presidential nominee contain classified information.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton holds an unscheduled news conference to talk about FBI inquiries into her emails after a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. October 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton leaves after an unscheduled news conference on FBI inquiries about her emails after a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. October 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton answers a question during a press conference about the FBI's reopening of a probe into her use of a private email server while secretary of State, in Des Moines, Iowa, on October 28, 2016. The FBI dealt Hillary Clinton's seemingly unstoppable White House campaign a stunning blow Friday by reopening a probe into her use of a private email server while secretary of state. / AFP / JEWEL SAMAD

(JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, left, accompanied by traveling press secretary Nick Merrill, center, departs after speaking at a news conference at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. Clinton is calling on the FBI to release more information about its review of emails that may be related to its investigation into her private server.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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"I will be there to render assistance to my fellow countrymen, and prevent them from being disarmed, and I will fight and I will kill and I may die in the process," said Hill, who founded the militia several years ago.

Trump's candidacy has emboldened extremist groups to speak more openly about challenging the rule of law, said Ryan Lenz, a researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"Prior to this campaign season, these ideas were relegated to sort of the political fringe of the American political landscape," he said. "Now these ideas are legitimized."

Over the past week, some prominent Trump supporters have hinted at violence.

"If Trump loses, I'm grabbing my musket," former Illinois Representative Joe Walsh wrote on Twitter last week. Conservative commentator Wayne Root fantasized about Clinton's death while speaking at a Trump rally in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Back in Georgia, the Three Percent Security Force wrapped up rifle practice in the midday sun. They then headed further into the trees to tackle an obstacle course with loaded pistols at their sides, ready for whatever may come.

"We've building up for this, just like the Marines," he said. "We are going to really train harder and try to increase our operational capabilities in the event that this is the day that we hoped would never come."

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