A European-based anti-refugee group is finding a new home in the United States, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League, and catching fire with neo-Nazis and anti-government extremists.
The group–Soldiers of Odin–launched in Finland in 2015 and is named for a Norse god. Members of the group can often be seen in Finland patrolling the streets, wearing black jackets inscribed with a Viking and the Finnish flag and attempting to be vigilante "eyes and ears for the police," according to the ADL report.
The group represents a backlash to the rising number of refugees being resettled throughout Europe. In Finland, the number of refugees quickly ballooned from just little more than 3,000 in 2014 to 32,000 in 2015. The group has already spread across Europe from France to the U.K.
Now, the Soldiers of Odin are making moves in the U.S.
According to the ADL's report, rumblings from the Soldiers of Odin USA began in February of this year. Unlike Europe, which is facing a massive refugee crisis, the number of refugees coming into the U.S. is still relatively small. And so far, Soldiers of Odin USA has mostly a web presence. Still, ADL estimates that there are at least 4,000 individuals linked to the U.S. group.
In March, the Soldiers of Odin chapter in Denver, Colorado held its first patrol. And the ADL reported that in Montana–where there is not even a refugee resettlement office–the backlash against refugees was so strong that "more than 200 people tried to crowd into a [Flathead County] March 10 county commissioners meeting to express anti-refugee and anti-Muslim sentiments." In March, a Soldiers of Odin group emerged to encourage individuals in the Flathead Valley to protest any Muslim refugee resettlement in the area.
"Europe waited until AFTER she was flooded with refugees to protest in large numbers. We will not make the same mistake in Montana," the group's Facebook page read. "We all know that many of the Muslim refugees are causing massive amounts of crime, in particular sexual assault and rape of women and children. Soldiers of Odin peacefully patrols the streets to protect citizens."
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