Safety commissioner warns lawmakers of ‘right wing groups’ while admitting no present threats in Vermont

Vermont’s public safety commissioner on Thursday briefed the General Assembly about “dangerous right-wing extremists” and said to stay vigilant, but admitted law enforcement knows of no specific threats currently within the Green Mountain State.

“There is a heightened state of alert and concern that we have not seen since 911,” Schirling said in the Zoom call with about 180 lawmakers from the House and Senate.

The occasion for the call is the unprecedented claim by the FBI early in the week that extremists have been planning armed protests for all 50 statehouses ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration. Despite the nationwide alarm raised by the claim, police in Vermont say they have no knowledge of an armed protest planned for Montpelier.

Vermont General Assembly

Michael Schirling, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety

At multiple points in the safety briefing, Schirling assured lawmakers Vermont is not the target of any specific threats.

“There are no known legitimate or viable threats to any target or person in Vermont that are known right now,” he said.

Schirling also affirmed that the 51 Vermonters who took a bus from Burlington to Washington, D.C., for the “March to Save America” on Jan. 6 were not involved in the riots at the U.S. Capitol Building, but were peaceful citizens.

“I should note that there’s no indication that folks that were on that bus to D.C. pose any kind of risk, or participated in any way — based on what we know today — in the incursion and insurrection into the Capitol,” he said.

One of the bus riders, Steve Bellows, told True North Reports he witnessed suspicious individuals near the Capitol wearing armor and riot gear who did not look like Trump supporters. He also heard people within the crowds yelling they had spotted Antifa infiltrators. In fact, members of Northeast Antifa told The Commons weekly newspaper in Brattleboro this week that some Antifa were present at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but only to “gather information.”

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice charged left-wing activist John Earle Sullivan, aka Jayden X, with “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds” and “interfering with law enforcement engaged in the lawful performance of their official duties.” The complaint alleges that Sullivan, who is from Utah, wore a ballistics vest and gas mask, entered the Capitol Building through a broken window, and even filmed the killing of 14-year Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt by a Capitol Police officer. Sullivan, the founder of Insurgence USA, a riot group created in response to George Floyd’s death last year, has also admitted on video to posing as a Trump supporter. Video footage Sullivan took of the siege has gone viral on the internet.

Schirling nonetheless emphasized that right-wing extremist groups are the groups that pose a threat. The year 2020 was characterized by left-wing anarchy groups burning, looting and occupying major cities including Seattle, Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., Oakland, Calif., and Kenosha, Wis., among others.

“We have previously done briefings for legislators over the course of the last six months or so relative to increasing concerns about, in particular, right wing extremism,” Schirling said. “So you’ve heard from us about things like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, the Boogaloo movement, QAnon, the Three Percenters, among others. Those loose affiliations or organizations — depending on how you want to characterize them — are central to many of the threat streams that are circulating in the United States.”

While Schirling did not give any example of a specific threat from the national scene, he assured lawmakers they “do exist in every state in the Union.” He also called on Vermonters to contact authorities if they see anything suspicious.

Since Jan. 6, when hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters protested peacefully in Washington, D.C., many politicians and media have attempted to label all Trump supporters as violent extremists.

Schirling described how Parler, a social media website that markets itself as a beacon for free speech, was taken down by larger internet companies for allegedly harboring extremist plots. Now many social media users are trending towards using Gab.

“In addition to the platform shift, the tone and focus of the threats has shifted as well,” he said, “for not only including folks claiming to want to target government assets, courthouses, statehouses, things like that in each of our states, but also turning their ire towards law enforcement, toward the media in an even more intense way.”

Vermont conservatives have been demonstrably pro-police, especially after law enforcement became political targets during violent riots in several American cities throughout 2020.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of FBI and Vermont General Assembly

11 thoughts on “Safety commissioner warns lawmakers of ‘right wing groups’ while admitting no present threats in Vermont

  1. Re: “Vermont’s public safety commissioner on Thursday briefed the General Assembly about “dangerous right-wing extremists” and said to stay vigilant, but admitted law enforcement knows of no specific threats currently within the Green Mountain State.”


    “There are no known legitimate or viable threats to any target or person in Vermont that are known right now,” he said.

    Funny. On a local blog from the admittedly progressive Left I read the following:


    “I had a dream Trump was on trial for sedition,” Baldwin tweeted Friday, which would have been King’s 92nd birthday. “And outside the courthouse, a noose was hung from a makeshift scaffold. The noose was made of recycled Covid masks.”

    Good morning newsreaders . January 18, 2021
    Every plan comes together Alex . The trial will be in the US Senate . Trump loves rallys in his honor . January 6, 2021 was the last one in DC , He did fly to texas so the US air marshals can bring him back from Florida on Conair as soon as he is convicted . Trump had a few executions his last few days in office .
    Hang him high from the very place sleepy Joe and Kamala took the oath of office on January 20, 2021 at 12 noon .


    Go figure.

  2. Schirling and Chairman Phil can stick it in their ears! I will not be intimidated by their latest threat, the creation of this agency. Ironic that it has a name like that of similar government entities in socialist countries.

  3. How did we get to the point in the United States where the people who support the Constitution get labeled right wing extremists. When all we want is that that founding document not be desecrated, as it affirms every citizens rights. What it means is the left wing is stripping our rights.

    • How did we get to this point in the United States?

      As long as you continue to ask, I’ll continue to give you an answer.

      “It’s little wonder, then, why those on ‘the Left’ of our political spectrum express such rabid support for more government, not less? It is their livelihood.”

      In other words, the majority of people in this country will spend our money until we run out of it. And when we run out of money, we become the same wards of the State they have become, we lose our incentive to be productive, to be self-sufficient citizens. This is what has happened in every socialized totalitarian government in history. There are no exceptions.

      This is what Benjamin Franklin warned against when he said:
      “I agree to this Constitution, with all its Faults, if they are such; because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”

      The Left clearly doesn’t understand that when we lose our incentive to be productive, they run out of money too, especially the wealthiest among them, because they have the most to lose.

      What happens then is anyone’s guess. But something tells me we’re going to find out soon enough, and I can only hope limited government conservatives, those who realize how amazing our Constitution really is, don’t do anything stupid, as many did when they stormed the Capitol last week.

  4. This is all about keeping the pot boiling so the emphasis is off the real bad guys. Even though there are “no credible threats” that right wing extremists will be showing up in VT, per Mr. Schirling, the modus operandi is to keep the thought process percolating that some of the 70+ million deplorables are just a heartbeat away from causing mayhem and destroying Montpeculiar.

    Remember the “gun rally” last year in Virginia? The Governor (Virginia) said all the radical right wing gun owners were coming to the Capitol and everyone’s life was in danger. It was the deplorables coming to town!

    In the end there was not a single incident; NOT ONE! These responsible gun owners, 26K+ of them, brought their guns with them and didn’t cause a single issue. They even picked up any trash, etc., whether it was their own or someone else’s. They were model citizens questioning the draconian new gun laws that the Governor and the liberal legislature enacted with no empirical or historical data justifying their implementation. These were simply good citizens exercising their constitutional rights. Oh, by the way, they are just some of whom makes up the 70+ million conservative voters in this country!

    The left continues, without reflection or pause, to refuse to call out the real domestic terrorists (ANTIFA/BLM) who killed a number of police officers, injured hundreds more, killed citizens and destroyed billions of dollars in property this last summer across the U.S. Liberal politicians think that if they ignore any discussion on the rioting across the country, calling it “peaceful demonstrations”, and continue harping on how bad the 70+M Trump supporters are, they can swing the narrative and convince people it is really these right-wing activists who are the problem, not the “peace loving” ANTIFA/BLM rioters. Good luck on that one.

    The above video just confirms who some of the aggressive instigators are in all the recent rioting. There are extremists on all sides of the spectrum, left and right, but ignoring the proven violent purveyors of hate and discontent (ANTIFA/BLM) is a disservice to the responsible citizens and taxpayers in this country.

    The liberal press is equally complicit in making the news versus reporting it by taking the emphasis off the proven perpetrators on the “left” and embellishing the narrative that those on the “right” are where the real threat lies. Just the inverse of what really happened across the country in 2020.

  5. Consider that more than 40% of Vermont’s workforce is now employed by the government, healthcare, and education sectors, all regulated and requiring of legislative support and taxpayer funding.

    Add to this cohort the 19% of Vermonters employed by Non-Profit, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Vermont nonprofits paid nearly $2 billion in wages, translating into an estimated $34 million of personal income tax revenue for Vermont’s state and local governments, and over $334 million in federal tax revenues. And these NGOs exist, in large part, because their revenues and distributions are subsidized by taxpayers too.

    It’s little wonder, then, why those on ‘the Left’ of our political spectrum express such rabid support for more government, not less? It is their livelihood. And when limited government fundamentalists, those who support constitutional free markets, liberty and freedom, challenge Leftist ‘big government’ tenants, Leftists respond as would any wild animal cornered by predators.

    When confronted by this social-economic circumstance, ‘the Left’ inevitably proposes a false dichotomy. It’s bravado – that it is the limited government fundamentalists who are the cornered wild animals, not ‘the Left’. This is why we see Leftist government officials persistently citing “dangerous right-wing extremists” for their demise when the inevitable social-economic dysfunction their policies create continues to increase. It is the nature of any ‘collective’ to spread the blame and avoid personal responsibility and accountability. This is why ‘the Left’, represented today by Safety Commissioner Schirling (a life-long government employee), dreads Liberty and Freedom in the first place.

    • Jay,

      Thank you for waking up the rest of Vermonters, who have been screwed over for decades by you know who.

      The same is true in SOCIALIST Norway, where more than 55% of the jobholders are on a government payroll, and where the LABOR party always wins.

      It does not matter WHO votes, it matters who stuffs the ballot boxes and COUNTS the votes.

      GWSA is just the latest tool to wield power and command/control to further nail Vermonters to the Cross.

      • Willem, this is the conversation I hope TNR readers can handle, even enjoy learning. Yes, we’re getting into the economic weeds and I know we lose readers after a few sentences. Nonetheless, I remain hopeful, because, if we are to know what politicians are leading us down a rabbit hole, we have to understand basic economics…. which is why our public education system doesn’t teach this stuff – another rabbit hole for another discussion at another time.

        The comparison between public sector employment and private sector employment is an important one. And Norway is an interesting comparison. But while Norway has the highest public sector employment in Europe, 16% per capita, Vermont’s government, healthcare and education sectors alone represent 18.5% employment per capita, not counting Vermont’s non-profit sector. Yes, there is overlap in Vermont’s government, healthcare and education sectors and its non-profit sector. But Vermont’s non-profit sector is currently one organization for every 160 people in the State, twice the U.S. national average.

        Another important comparison though is the productivity index. Vermont per-capita GDP was $54,510 in 2019, which is $10,731 lower than the US average per-capita GDP. In fact, while Vermont’s GDP per capita is increasing, even the highest recorded to date, it still ranks 50th in the U.S. Norway’s 2020 GDP per capita was $67,989 compared to an average per capita GDP of $65,241 in the U.S.. While the U.S. and Norway are statistically the same, Vermont is at the bottom of the relative heap.

        Here’s the deal most people don’t realize. And the Pilgrim’s, believe it or not, were the first folks to figure this out on a collective basis. Productivity correlates directly with ‘Self Determination’, and ‘Self Determination’ correlates directly with private ownership and control of property in a free market economy. The more a State government takes out of the private economy, the less productive that economy becomes. Always has. Always will.

        And, yes, to all of the naysayers out there. Correlation and Causation are the same in this instance because human nature is human nature. Self-Determination Theory demonstrates this over and again and, if we are to thrive, we must understand the wonder of governance the Founders of the U.S. actually created for us before it’s too late.

  6. If right wing conservatives did anything, it would be a reason for safety forces to “go big”, just to show how awful/dangerous those conservatives are.

    The best approach would be not to give them any reason.

    Regarding INFATA/BLM leader John Sullivan, seen, on video, instigating others to storm the CAPITOL, and gloating about it, was turned in to the FBI by his own brother, who called him a leader in the INFATA movement.

    Sullivan was charged with various crimes, but was released without even having to post bail!

    Previously, on video, Sullivan had instigated violent riots in California and Utah.
    It looks like he found his calling.

  7. Perhaps we should have a rider on the forthcoming vaccine passport or on the enhanced drivers license, you know that state if you have ever voted for a Republican, Then we can ban them from protesting or coming into the state.

    It’s a bit more sophisticated than paint R’s on foreheads, or burning people at the stake……

    Vermont conservatives have been pro-police, oh the horror……

    Yet Antifa, who have ransacked Europe for decades and the united states for the last year, “were only in Washington DC to gather information” Please tell me you don’t believe that do you? It was the Trump supporters. yeah right.

    I know when Trump came to Vermont. A quiet line of people a mile long, standing patiently. While everyone was shouting, yelling protesting, talking on line about buying tickets so nobody could see him. Police and security, every 100 feet, two men, lights, police cars, it looked like the city was being taken over by terrorists.

    How did so much hatred get developed so early?

    All most people knew was he was rich and liked his name in gold on buildings.

    But some had been getting other information, see that smart phone had been spreading “news”, it’s the greatest propaganda tool ever invented. How was there a “spontaneous” protest of pink hats on Trumps inauguration.

    It’s not the American people, the Republicans causing trouble. it’s the organizers. Any time you find some organizers…you’ve found some trouble.

  8. It’s progressive public officials like this excuse for a “commissioner for public safety” that provide an expedient reason for people to move out of Vermont. They will keep leaving. Shame on our fake-Republican governor for hiring this unprofessional puppet.

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