MOORHEAD — A city council candidate is being called out online for sporting a logo associated with right-wing antigovernment groups.
Troy Krabbenhoft filed for Moorhead City Council's open Ward 3 seat on Aug. 9. Krabbenhoft took a photo at City Hall that day with fellow candidate, Marc Hedlund, who is running for the second open seat, Ward 4, and Krabbenhoft shared it on Facebook.
In the photo, Krabbenhoft was wearing a leather vest with a number of patches, mostly all relating to his 25 years in the military, his careers as a police officer and paramedic, and other patches for 9/11 and prisoners of war.
But one patch in particular was noticed by some Facebook users who called attention to its affiliation.
Red and black with the Roman numeral three and the words "oath keeper," the symbol represents Three Percenters, also known as 3%ers or III%s, an antigovernment group with some members behind the 2017 bombings at a mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota, and a women's health center in Champaign, Illinois. Members were also among the crowd at the violent "Unite The Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
Oath Keepers is a radical antigovernment part of the so-called Patriot movement linked to militia groups like III%ers, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a national organization tracking hate groups.
Krabbenhoft, a 51-year-old real estate agent, said he is not affiliated with the group and got the patch as a gift. Krabbenhoft said he did not know the full meaning behind the patch. He said he thought it referred to the percentage of the population serving in the armed forces, and considering his service, he sported the logo.
"I have no idea about that organization at all," Krabbenhoft said.
It's reported that the meaning behind the group's name comes from the belief that only 3% of American colonists fought the British. Members of the group claim its goal is protecting gun rights, but the Southern Poverty Law Center said III% is an antigovernment movement.
The center lists dozens of III% and Oath Keepers groups across the country, including some militias, such as the II% Security Force in North Dakota and the III% United Patriots in Minnesota.
This week, people online were calling out Krabbenhoft, some even saying he should drop out of the council race. He also got a call from Mayor Johnathan Judd who he said told him that he might want to remove the photo because, "It doesn't make you look very good."
Krabbenhoft deleted many of the Facebook comments bringing attention to the III% patch. Local activist Jamaal Abegaz said on Facebook that Krabbenhoft blocked him when he tried asking him about his affiliation with the group.
Asked if he plans to remove the patch and not associate with III% moving forward, Krabbenhoft said yes. But he also said he plans to do more research on the group and said he will remove the patch "if it has anything to do with" III%.
Hedlund echoed Krabbenhoft in saying the situation is a misunderstanding. Hedlund said he doesn't know anything about the III% or Oath Keepers, and claims no affiliation.
He said Krabbenhoft is "not the kind of person involved with these militia groups" and likely "put the patch on not knowing" what it fully represents.
Last year, a sergeant with the Cass County Sheriff's Office faced an internal investigation for posting about Three Percenters on Facebook. But he, too, denied any affiliation with the group.