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Lone Nebraska official on Oath Keepers’ membership list ‘very surprised’

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Posted at 11:58 AM, Sep 10, 2022

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) — The lone Nebraska official named as part of a deep dive into the leaked membership lists of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group said Friday he was “very surprised” to be the only person named from the state.

Larry Langer, who is a member of the village board in Alvo, a small village midway between Omaha and Lincoln, said he quit the organization six or seven years ago because of some egotistical leaders, but he said he remains committed to the mission of the organization.

The mission, according to Langer, is to remind police officers and military members that their first obligation is to defend the U.S. Constitution.

“I used to belong to them, and damned proud to do it,” he said. “It appears that the Oath Keepers have veered off their mission, at least some of them. That’s the reason we got out of it.”

Langer rejected descriptions of the Oath Keepers as “anti-government,” “extremist” or a “terrorist group.”

‘No radicalism,’ former member says

“These were good people, and people who cared about their community,” he said. “There was no radicalism. If you were radical, you were kicked out.”

The Nebraska Examiner reached out to Langer after the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism, a Jewish organization that opposes anti-Semitism and other forms of bias, issued a report that hundreds of people named on Oath Keepers membership lists nationwide were current or former elected officials, military members and law enforcement officers.

The ADL described the Oath Keepers as an “an anti-government extremist group associated with the militia movement.” The Southern Law Poverty Center, which tracks extremist groups, calls the Oath Keepers “one of the largest far-right antigovernment groups in the U.S. today.”

Some charged with seditious conspiracy

The organization has been in headlines recently after at least 26 of its members were arrested in connection with the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Twelves of those Oath Keepers, including its founder, Stewart Rhodes, face one of the most serious charges: seditious conspiracy, for attempting to block congressional confirmation of the 2020 presidential election.

Oath Keepers were also involved in the 2014 Bundy Ranch armed standoff against the Bureau of Land Management. Armed Oath Keepers roamed the streets during the unrest in 2014 and 2015 in Ferguson, Missouri — an action that Langer said protected businesses in Ferguson.

In 2016, a message on the Oath Keepers’ website stated that there would be “outright civil war” if Hillary Clinton was elected.

The ADL issued its report after digging through leaked membership lists obtained by a journalism collective, Distributed Denial of Secrets.

The ADL said it found 234 Nebraskans on the membership lists among about 38,000 Oath Keepers members nationwide, but it emphasized that those listed may no longer be members, never were members or might have joined without knowing exactly what the organization was about.

Of those Nebraskans, the report identified one person as an elected official, one member of the military, two involved in law enforcement and four first responders.

The initial report did not name any of those eight members, and an ADL spokesman said they were not revealing names of “rank-and-file officers since they are not public/elected officials.”

The lone Nebraska who fit the description of being in a position of trust, such as elective office, police chief or sheriff, was Langer.

Tire pile controversy

Langer has made headlines himself in recent months. He was part of a tire recycling operation in Alvo that was the subject of months of complaints. The operation was ordered by state environmental and fire regulators to clean up its enormous pile of tens of thousands of scrap tires because they posed both a health hazard and a fire threat. The pile had grown to more than twice the size allowed by the state.

Langer blamed the problems on a shortage of truck drivers and because he was suffering from cancer. A recall effort was launched against village board members, which Langer survived (while another board member did not).

The pile was recently deemed cleaned up, about a year after Langer sold his part of the operation to his son.

When contacted Friday about the Oath Keepers, Langer said he was surprised that he was the only person named. He said the vice president of the organization when he was a member was a Nebraskan, though that person wasn’t an elected official or law enforcement executive.

Langer said he didn’t know whether other members of the group, when he was involved, were elected officials or heads of police or sheriff’s departments. But he said many of the members in the webinars he attended were current or former law enforcement officers and former or active duty military.

Those groups have been targets of recruiting by the Oath Keepers, according to the ADL, which says the organization wants to assure that the military and police would resist, as unconstitutional, government orders that they fear could actually occur, such as mass confiscation of guns.

May have ‘gotten radical’

Langer described the military and police as being the only chance to “preserve our country.”

He said he belonged to the Oath Keepers for only four or five months and said the organization may have “gotten radical” in recent years.

Langer said that he and others quit the group because some members seemed to be involved “to bolster their own ego” instead of to focus on the group’s purpose.

He added that despite leaving the Oath Keepers, he is continuing to do what that organization had done — train people on firearms use and survival techniques. The training, done at a former missile base along U.S. Highway 34 near Alvo, includes how to skin a deer, can food and purify water, Langer said.

“The electricity might not run forever,” he said.

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Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: info@nebraskaexaminer.com. Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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