Who are the Three Percenters? What we know about militia linked to 5 Florida men charged in Capitol riot

Orlando-area men arrested for roles in riot

Federal investigators claim five men arrested for their involvement in the riot on Capitol Hill were members of a militia group that held beliefs aligned with Three Percenters.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Federal investigators claim five men arrested for their involvement in the riot on Capitol Hill were members of a militia group that held beliefs aligned with Three Percenters.

“The name Three Percenters comes from a myth that only 3% of colonists rose up against the British, but that they were able to achieve liberty for everyone,” Alex Friedfeld said.

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Friedfeld is an investigative researcher for the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism.

He told News 6 the ideology is often found within militia groups.

“These guys believe that it is their duty to fight back against what they believe is the tyranny of the federal government, and that it is upon them -- it is upon their shoulders -- to act in order to win liberty for the entire country,” he said.

Dept. of Justice documents identify the group B Squad at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Courtesy: U.S. Dept. of Justice) (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

According to federal court documents, FBI agents arrested John Edward Crowley, 50, of Windermere; Jonathan Alan Rockholt, 38, of Palm Coast; and Tyler Quintin Bensch, 20, of Casselberry; Benjamin Cole, 38, of Leesburg; and Brian Preller, 33, of Mount Dora on Wednesday.

Investigators claim all five are members of a militia group called B Squad, which is a local chapter of Guardians of Freedom.

Federal investigators claimed the group adheres to the Three Percenters ideology.

According to Guardian of Freedom’s website, they are “a group of patriots that are willing to do whatever it takes to free our country from the socialists that are trying to take control.”

News 6 contacted the group on Thursday for a comment on the arrests, and no one has responded.

“We have seen a growth in anti-government extremism in the United States, including those who identify as three percenters,” Catrina Doxsee said.

Doxsee is the associate director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

She said her organization tracks domestic terrorism plots and attacks, violent extremism and the groups that are behind them.

She said a lot of the extremism in the U.S. is being driven by white supremacists and anti-government extremists, such as those following the Three Percenter ideology.

“I think it’s important to note that not all individuals who hold extremist beliefs, like following the Three Percenter ideology or ascribing to anti-government ideologies, are going out and joining militia groups,” she said. “Not all of those individuals are involved in violent activity. Many of those individuals that are just expressing their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, the freedom to express their ideology, even if that ideology is something that you and I might find highly objectionable.”

The five men linked to the Central Florida group will be tied in Washington, D.C.

Their arrests bring the total to 35 local residents who have been charged in connection with the Capitol Hill riot.

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About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.