Source: Bucks County Courier Times
A group claiming to be a political nonprofit based in Bucks County appears to have at least “dabbled” in the right-wing militia movement, according to a domestic extremism researcher.A report on the Proud American Patriots Network published late last week details the group’s digital footprint that gives credence to concerns that it was a militia group planning to gather at a local school district meeting last month.Yet the leader of PAPN, Warwick resident and military veteran T.J. Kosin, said the report doesn’t tell the whole story.A PAPN Facebook post raised alarms the weekend before an Aug. 25 Central Bucks School District meeting where a possible mask mandate was to be discussed.A flurry of social media posts began to spread, accusing the group of being related to the alt-right Three Percenters militia, an organization that splintered and dissolved after members were arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6.Kosin denied any ties to the Three Percenters and the militia movement as he called off plans to meet several hours before the school board meeting.He said conclusions that the group would show up with weapons or military gear outside of the school meeting room were exaggerated by “mass hysteria” online.Yet Jared Holt, a resident fellow at the Digital Forensic Research Lab, has been following the network for months and says the group’s assertions that PAPN is simply a political nonprofit are misleading at best.”What I found was that this was a group that, despite its forward-facing appearance as a political nonprofit, at least spent its early days dabbling in the militia movement,” Holt told this news organization last week.Holt monitors extremist message boards for potentially illegal militant groups, which is how he came across PAPN earlier this year.A handful of users posted links that directed to PAPN’s website, pa-pn.org, 85 times as late as June on the militia recruitment forum, MyMilitia.com. A user by the name of CPT SeaDog posted in a Georgia-based sub-forum of MyMilitia stating that PAPN was “trying to get away from the stigma associated with the term ‘militia’ although that is exactly what we are,” Holt wrote in his report.Holt said he can’t be certain who SeaDog is, but an image of the user’s posts in Holt’s report show the user identified as some kind of PAPN leader.As previously reported by this news organization, documents shared under Kosin’s name on a website called FlipSnack listed him as the PAPN president.PAPN also directly referenced the “Three Percenters Movement” in an earlier copy of its bylaws posted on FlipSnack before the meeting backlash last month.“The Three Percenters movement is not just you and me. They are our Sheriffs, Police Officers, Firefighters, Medics, Nurses, Teachers, Doctors, IT folks, librarians, grocers, farmers; they are in ALL professions. They are members of OUR community,(sic)” the bylaws state.Founding the PAPN and its early ties to the Three PercentersKosin said Monday afternoon that there is a connection between PAPN and the Three Percenters Movement, but it’s much more complex than what Holt found online.PAPN was initially started around June or July 2020, after Kosin said he left a Three Percenters group that he felt was becoming more extreme.The Three Percenters Movement, according to Kosin, was a kind of loose collective of smaller organizations that didn’t have a central leadership as much as they gathered around a broad “constitutionalist” philosophy.“Everybody has got to stop lumping us into one category, because that’s where we get frustrated and that’s where we feel the media is out to get us,” Kosin said.Holt said that description is not inaccurate.PAPN initially refused this news organization’s request for comment beyond a general statement about the social media backlash last month, which Kosin said Monday was largely due to feeling that he would not be treated fairly. Kosin said he was a member of a Three Percenters group until last summer, when the leaders in that group appeared to be moving away from community outreach and toward more militant counterparts.“I took a state logistics officer position, and as soon as I was offered the position they asked me to come up with contingency plans in case Biden was elected and decided to declare martial law,” Kosin said during a phone interview.Kosin said he thought the position would have been to organize responders to help in natural disasters, and he left shortly after.He did not name the specific group he belonged to during the interview.Other members followed Kosin, and PAPN began setting up chapters across the country.As PAPN began the process of filing for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status as a political organization, the group hadn’t entirely cut itself off from the Three Percenters Movement as a whole.After Jan. 6 Capitol riots, some PAPN members want to ‘be more radical’According to Kosin, the references to the Three Percenters remained since in documents and included Three
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