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Leak: Far-Right Militia Members Among MN’s Cops, Military, Politicians

Plus Jack Jablonski's big reveal, Jensen dangles a baby, and a growing vegan bakery empire in today's Flyover.

An Oath Keepers billboard in Pine City, Minnesota, circa 2015.
Wikipedia Commons

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Oath Keepers Leak Includes Data on MN Membership

Oath Keepers, the far-right, anti-government militia group believed to be a key player in the January 6 insurrection, experienced a massive data leak, the analysis of which has been shared via the Anti-Defamation League. Now outed members, both former and current, are rushing to disavow the group while googling what exactly it was they signed up for years ago. Watch groups had estimated that membership was probably around 5,000, though the data leak suggests it’s more like 38,000—about 514 of them from Minnesota. Six work in law enforcement, three are military, and one is an elected official. (Update, Sept. 8: It’s GOP state Rep. Donald Raleigh of Blaine, Minnesota Reformer reports.)

One person named in the leak, South Dakota state Rep. Phil Jensen, says he signed up for membership without fully understanding what the Oath Keepers were about. He told the AP that he paid for a one-year membership in 2014, though he claims he never received any additional info from them, never attended any meetings, and is not a current member. “Back in 2014, they appeared to be a pretty solid conservative group. I can’t speak to them now,” he said.

The Oath Keepers have a long history of vigilantism, providing paramilitary presence at protests, political galas, and alt-right events. Members were seen patrolling in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 after the police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager. They were also at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, offered protection to GOP trickster Roger Stone during his trial, and provided security at the Stop the Steal event in 2020. Earlier this year their founder, Stewart Rhodes, was indicted for seditious conspiracy. Over two dozen other members have either been convicted or await trial regarding the events of January 6. Former Oath Keepers spokesman Jason Van Tatenhove described the group to the Southern Poverty Law Center as actually “selling the revolution.”

Jack Jablonski Comes Out

In 2011, Benilde-St. Margaret’s hockey player Jack Jablonski was checked from behind during a game, resulting in a spine injury that would leave him paralyzed from below the chest. Just 16 at the time, “Jabs” became an instant source of inspiration, and the headline updates over the past decade have mostly been positive—graduating college, getting a PR job with the L.A. Kings, even predicting he’ll walk again. The pandemic turned out to be a dark time for Jablonski, The Athletic’s Micahel Russo writes. Not because of his paralysis, but because of his secret: Jablonski is gay, a fact the 26-year-old shared Wednesday via Russo and social media.

At his lowest, Jabs tells Russo, he considered “driving my chair in front of a car and just stopping it all because of how lonely I felt and how sad I was.” Today, as friends, family, players, and the NHL itself celebrate his coming out, Jablonski reports he’s in a much better place, one from which he’ll provide even more inspiration: “It’s just a fresh start and happiness in a world of hockey where gay people don’t exist.” Click here to revisit Racket’s deep-dive feature into Minnesota’s push to make hockey more inclusive. 

Jensen Drops Bizarre Baby-Cradling Ad to Further Deny Abortion Stance

GOP gubernatorial candidate Dr. Scott Jensen would really like you to forget about all that stuff he said before Roe v. Wade got overturned in June. Back then, before it became a massive political liability for a state-wide candidate, Jensen supported banning abortion, and even enlisted a lifelong anti-abortion crusader, Matt Birk, as his running mate. These days, as his poll numbers plummet, Jensen’s stance is… well, it’s whatever he panic-attempts to explain while foisting a wriggling baby toward the camera. The clip is, uh, really something else:

Here’s Jensen’s full, bizarre abortion quote to MPR back in March:

“I would try to ban abortion, I think that we’re we’re basically in a situation where we should be governed by… there is no reason for us to be having abortions going out. We have tremendous opportunities and availability of birth control. We don’t need to be snuffing out lives that if left alone will produce a viable newborn, that may go on to be the next Albert Einstein. We can be so much better than we’ve been. We do not need to be having Hillary Clinton casually discuss the value and the reasonableness of late third trimester abortions, when you’ve got literally, you’ve got a life that’s a few inches away from passing through a birth canal and being the source of tremendous love. And we’re saying no, if mom changes your mind, she can go ahead and slice and dice it and be done with it. I don’t think that’s where we want to be.”

Vegan East is Opening a Bakery in South Minneapolis

The Twin Cities has an under-the-radar burgeoning vegan chain restaurant. Vegan East has announced that it’s opening a fourth location in 2023. This bakery-focused spot, at 5501 S. 34th Ave., will be on the outskirts of the Nokomis neighborhood. Sheila Nelson founded Vegan East in 2016 as a cottage food enterprise whose sweet treats could be found online and at pop-up events. Six years later, she has a brick-and-mortar business in White Bear Lake, northeast Minneapolis, and the Wedge neighborhood. While those three locations serve soups and sandwiches in addition to baked goods, this new spot will focus on the original sweets that launched her business. “Sheila started out doing cakes and cupcakes, and we’re gonna be going back to our roots with this,” Reid Nelson, Sheila’s husband and Vegan East co-owner, tells Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.