Many of their members wore matching uniforms, marched in military-style formations, openly chanted white-supremacist slogans, and invited confrontation with counterprotesters and law enforcement. In some cases, their gear and maneuvers imitated those used by armies of the past, and their weapons, whether firearms or cruder instruments such as shields, bats, batons and flagpoles, were deployed in coordination to intimidate and signal that they were, as they put it, “ready to crack skulls.” The day’s fateful events culminated in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, for which one marcher has been charged with first-degree murder and two federal hate crimes.
.. Most states have constitutional language, criminal statutes or both barring unauthorized paramilitary activity. Every state except New York and Georgia has a constitutional provision, akin to Virginia’s, requiring that “in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” In other words, private armies are proscribed in 48 states. You can’t legally organize with others into battalions to fight those with whom you disagree.
.. 28 states have criminal statutes that prohibit individuals from forming rogue military units and parading or drilling publicly with firearms, while 25 states have criminal statutes that bar two or more people from engaging in “paramilitary” activity, including using firearms or other “techniques” capable of causing injury or death in a civil disorder.
.. By restricting paramilitary activity and the usurpation of military and police powers by private groups, the court orders sought by the lawsuit would restore the long-standing public-private equilibrium disrupted by those who descended on Charlottesville last August.