Living out the maxim that no good deed goes unpunished, a local militia group is being criticized for helping evacuate and feed citizens impacted by a California wildfire.
The California State Militia 2nd Regiment turned out to help the people of Mariposa after a fire caused more than 4,000 people to evacuate their homes and burned more than 18,000 acres, according to the San Jose Mercury-News.
The Mercury-News said the politics of those helping matter to some residents it did not name.
“The last thing I’m going to do is take a free tri-tip sandwich from a right-wing extremist group,” one person said.
“We’re very angry that they would choose to come in at a time of real gravity to try to turn this into a political move,” the woman said, claiming this was a recruiting effort.
Militia members helping those facing off the #OakFire? “We’re part of the community…We’re all part of the same unit, and this is what we do.” Local sheriff’s dept sing praises, but others accuse them of exploiting the disaster. https://t.co/ve6Pj85LIw via @ethanbaron pic.twitter.com/KBOFu3gv0v
— Rachael Myrow (@rachaelmyrow) July 26, 2022
Militia member Daniel Latner, 44, who lives in Mariposa County, said nothing could be further from the truth.
“We’re part of the community,” he said. “We’re watching our own community burn down, and even though a lot of the members that came to help, they’re spread out, we’re all part of the same unit, and this is what we do.”
Latner said the group of about 20 that responded to the emergency fed about 20 families and brought a trailer to help with evacuations, although it was not needed.
Latner, who said the group was not armed while on its mission of mercy, said militia members are “on standby” to help.
“We’re just getting a little bit of a break, getting our gear cleaned up, getting showered and getting ready to move out if we can find a place we can help,” he said.
“We are not unsupportive of community groups helping those affected by the Oak Fire, however it is important that we inform the community of resources available to them by the incident and Mariposa County. The control and command structure was put in place for this very purpose and is important for the safety of the public and our staff,” the post read.
“We had received multiple notifications inquiring why we had ‘activated that militia’ this post what intended to clarify that we have not activated them, they are acting on their own courteous accord. We appreciate their efforts and any the efforts of other private groups or entities helping our community,” the post read.
But to some, the politics of the helper is more important than the quality of the help.
“It puts these groups in a positive light and extends to them a type of de-facto authority that they really don’t have under the law, which poses significant issues,” Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“When you have a system that allows unregulated extremists to cosplay at times of disaster, you get, well, unqualified extremists cosplaying at times of disaster,” he said.
Levin was unhappy with the tacit approval given the group by law enforcement.
“If it turns out there’s extremists within those ranks, that’s a critical juncture where people are at their most vulnerable,” he said. “Vulnerable people at vulnerable times require a qualified response, and they don’t need to be exposed to the possibility of extremism.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.