Frequent school board and assembly agitator Dustin Sherman started a podcast, Forgotten Freedoms, in January to help promote political candidates. So far, the podcast, available on most major platforms, features friendly interviews with Assembly candidates Stephanie Flynn Taylor and Randy Sulte along with school board candidate Rachel Ries and relatively unknown candidates for Alaska governor and the US Senate.
Sherman also provides political commentary on his Sherman Tank 1776 TikTok account, where he has amassed a 24,000+ strong following and often rails against government overreach and the perceived encroachment of civil liberties.
Sherman said he did not hold far-right beliefs in a February 1 podcast where he provided listeners with an arguably inadequate, if not enlightening, 38 minute personal backstory where he also spoke about members of the Anchorage Assembly, Antifa — and made only a brief mention of his time as a member of a militia group describing some admirable charitable work they did.
His creation and use of the “Dustin Sherman for a Better Anchorage” Facebook page last year (now unpublished and unavailable) led to speculation that he may have once considered a run for political office.
It’s notable that members of the Bronson administration and some assembly candidates are Facebook friends with Sherman, but it’s inconceivable why right-wing candidates running for positions in local government would see fit to use Sherman’s platform to promote their candidacies given an online trail featuring many extremist positions and statements. One might think that, given Sherman’s affiliation with a militia-type group, candidates would be hesitant to use his platform to spread their campaign messaging.
If only we were so fortunate.
Founded in 2008, the Three Percenters are far-right, anti-government extremists who are part of the militia movement. Some members organize militias, while others develop non-paramilitary organizations or internet networks. They believe strongly in armed rebellion against perceived government overreach, especially with respect to gun laws.
A policy report: The Three Percenters: A Look Inside an Anti-Government Militia, published by the New Lines Institute last year, identifies the Three Percenter movement as a subset of the larger far-right anti-government militia movement, organized primarily around intense fear and loathing of the U.S. federal government.
The name Three Percenters is based on a false theory that, during the American Revolution, only 3% of the US population served in George Washington’s army. Historians have estimated that the percentage was closer to 15–25%, but Three Percenters are persistent in citing the debunked statistic as evidence the US federal government was tyrannical from the very beginning.
The Three Percenters became more conspicuous at political rallies, protests, and armed standoffs during the 2016 US presidential election, frequently associated with far-right ideas and political candidates. Both liberals and conservatives have slammed the organization, accusing it of being racist, biased, and violent. They have been designated as an extremist group by the Anti-Defamation League and at least seven people linked to the Three Percent movement have been arrested and charged with conspiracy and other counts related to the attempted insurgency at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Militia Watch, an online venture which began as a Medium publication in 2016 following several years of independent research into the world of US militias, reported in 2019 that Sherman hosted a patriot chat video livestream and that he was the creator of Three Percent Nation (sometimes stylized as III%N) a group that claimed to focus on providing relief to homeless veterans around the US. He was also identified as the “commanding officer” for III% United Patriots’ Alaska chapter by Militia Watch.
In 2018, Sherman generously presented a $1,000 check to Sonoma County Vet Connect, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in California that provides assistance for veterans. A caption associated with the photographs identified him as the State Executive Officer of III% Nation and III% United Patriots of California.
In on-again, off-again fashion, Sherman’s social media accounts are sometimes branded with the III% logo and Sherman himself sports a III% tattoo on both arms, which are often visible in photographs and videos. His Twitter account refers individuals to a “Patriot Warrior” website registered in California that is currently misconfigured, which web browsers warn poses a potential security breach to visitors.
A combative Twitter account created in 2019 associated with the Patriot Warrior website has shared conspiracy theories related to Dominion voting machines, the 2020 presidential election, and other far-right conspiracies and rhetoric. The account once referred to former Vice President Pence as a coward and asked when he was going to do something about fraud.
The account has tagged other Twitter accounts belonging to Oath Keepers, the Three Percent organization and 1776 Stonewall. All three accounts were later suspended by Twitter for violations of its terms of service. Posts made by the account in 2019 selling merchandise, lists the website currently available on Sherman’s personal Twitter account.
It is unknown who manages the Patriot Warrior Twitter account.
In a post shared on his Facebook account last month, Sherman acknowledged being “a member of a militia-type group,” and noted that none of his members had killed or seriously injured anyone (good to know) and that he and his militia-type group members had done some charitable work, once having put on a Christmas benefit dinner for 14 families who had lost their homes.
“We did more for them than the entire state of California did,” Sherman stated in his post.
In the same post, Sherman opined that militia groups such as Identity Europa and Patriot Front have no business in the country and represented the epitome of what his group fought against. He also has previously stated in a Facebook post that has since gone missing, that the federal government was behind Patriot Front.
“Those that spew anti-American rhetoric do not represent me or my friends and never will,” Sherman wrote.
There was, according to Militia Watch, plenty of anti-Islam posts scattered around his III%N associated Facebook pages and groups — note the use of the “then I’m a (fucking) racist” macro image used by III%N below.
On his TikTok account, Sherman often rails against tyrannical overreach and what he perceives are threats to freedom and democracy.
“If you want to take my freedom, you better be as passionate about taking it as I am about keeping it,” Sherman told his viewers in a November 24, 2021 video.
In a now-deleted video that was shared to his TikTok account shortly after the attempted armed insurrection of the U.S. Capitol, and after President Biden and Vice President Harris rightfully assumed office, Sherman asked what President Biden would do if “we decided to descend upon Washington D.C. with 100,000 frothy patriots” and kicked his ass out on the lawn.
“What would you do? What could you do?” Sherman asked at the end of the video before breaking a grin.
In a second similar video related to Vice President Harris, whom he referred to as a “camel toe hairy ass,” Sherman wondered what the vice president would do if he and his fellow patriots threw her out of her home and “liberated” her slaves.
Isn’t free speech great?
A January 5, 2021, post made to Sherman’s Facebook account stated that he believed Georgia was a huge setup. “With all the people in DC, what a better way to spark some kind of reaction with those people there,” the post stated, which then asked, “Will we have a shot heard round the world tomorrow? Is Paul Revere riding once again?”
A post made to Sherman’s Facebook account on January 6, 2021, speculated that a rush of a million patriots could take the US Capitol and hold it for the people while would-be occupiers in the Capitol could use Antifa as human shields. A subsequent comment made in response to the post referenced the firing of shots made inside the Capitol, hoping it was “no one we know.”
Interestingly, Sherman said in a Facebook Live video he recorded after January 6, 2021, that he had begun talking more in code. The codes, previously shared to Sherman’s Facebook account but no longer available, are generally alphanumeric and unreadable without the key or cipher.
The practice of using them, said Sherman in his video, began while he was in California.
“There’s not many people locally that have it [the key] but I don’t hand those out unless I see you face to face. I don’t like to send that kind of stuff electronically, umm, I need to know who you are, just because I don’t need that key going somewhere it shouldn’t go,” Sherman states in the video.
It’s not clear what the coded messages shared by Sherman represent, who they are for or why he was concerned about the key becoming potentially compromised.
A July 2, 2021, video shared to Sherman’s TikTok account shows him pictured with Save Anchorage (SA) members Andy Kriner, Deborah Bronson and Stephanie Leigh Golmon Williams. Anchorage Mayor David Bronson also appears pictured with Sherman as well as Americans for Prosperity Alaska State Director Bernadette Wilson, who is also a longtime member of the group.
“A lot of the folks in these pictures were instrumental in getting Dave elected to be our next Mayor,” Sherman narrated.
A livestream recorded by Sherman on March 28, 2018 ahead of the Pro Second Amendment rally, and which was obtained by The Blue Alaskan, reveals that he and his “militia-type” group members participated in a Close Quarter Battle (CQB) training exercise involving roughly twenty people from three or four different groups including Oath Keepers, West Coast Patriots and III% United Patriots (III%UP) — one of the larger III% movements around at the time.
The founder of the Oath Keepers militia and ten alleged co-conspirators will be the first to stand trial on seditious conspiracy charges in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurgency.
In an August 27, 2018 livestream recorded by Sherman, also obtained by The Blue Alaskan, he and an unidentified man spoke at length about African White Genocide that they said was occurring.
Right-wing groups in South Africa and the United States popularized the concept of a white genocide in South Africa, and it is a common talking point among white nationalists. There are no trustworthy statistics that show white farmers are more likely to be slain than the typical South African and the narrative is now often referred to as the white genocide conspiracy theory.
During the same month Sherman posted his livestream, the New York Times wrote that Donald Trump had cited false claims of widespread attacks on white farmers in South Africa, as did the Washington Post, CBS News, AP News and The Guardian. PolitiFact rated Trump’s claim as mostly false, writing that his statement that the South African government was “seizing land from white farmers” was misleading and that his assertion there was a “large scale killing of farmers” in the country was “flat-out wrong.”
Sherman was an active member of the far-right Save Anchorage group, before temporarily leaving the group only to later rejoin on August 19, 2021.
Some members of the group responded favorably to what was described as Sherman’s calling out of East Anchorage Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar during an Anchorage Assembly meeting, and he once offered to help Save Anchorage administrator Russell Biggs “get the dirty details” related to a large public records request.
It’s not clear if Sherman’s offer of help was acted upon. Sherman had also previously shared a video in 2020 containing testimony that he said was related to how COVID-19 mandates affected both he and his wife. “Anything to help,” he wrote, responding to Russell Biggs.
Public testimony Sherman has given in front of the Anchorage Assembly has also been highlighted by Must Read Alaska on YouTube.
Last summer, Sherman hoisted a black flag over his home. As explained by The Courier and numerous other media outlets: “The all-black American flags flown by so-called local patriots appear to mean “no quarter given” and may even imply a willingness to use (lethal) violence against perceived enemies, essentially any non-Trumper who threatens their washed-out, retrograde vision of what the United States is supposed to look like, how they believe democracy is supposed to work, or what they believe freedom is.”
Just so we are clear, the phrase no quarter was generally used during military conflict to imply combatants would not be taken prisoner, but killed.
In an October 2021 interview, Amy Cooter, an expert on US domestic militias and other right-wing “patriot” groups, said that the black flags are one of several possible warning signs, although it doesn’t mean they are going to galvanize into action.
“I do think people who fly it are marking themselves as folks to watch for other signals of radicalization,” she said.
It’s Just Alaska’s Quirky Little Way
Last May, Alaska attorney Scott Kendall identified a man who proudly wore a Three Percenter shirt to a Dave Bronson for Mayor rally. Kendall rightfully noted that the extremist group was violent with ties to antisemitism and the Capitol riots.
Extremism is indeed alive and well in Alaska. We see it in Alaska politicians and candidates for political office in the form of Rep. David Eastman, Sen. Lora Reinbold and U.S. Senate Candidate Kelly Tshibaka, and we witness it at school board meetings, assembly meetings, community council meetings and campaign events.
We see it manifested in the form of an individual who interviews Save Anchorage and Bronson-backed candidates for Anchorage Assembly and school board and who, just five days ago, told their following not to be concerned when they are using social media platforms as an outlet but rather to be concerned when they start disappearing from social media because that means they’re getting organized and ramping things up.
Seems like something we should definitely keep tabs on.